The Latest | Southern California breaking news and trends

Assembly member Norma Torres blasts male colleagues, invokes Akin in abortion debate

Pomona assembly member Norma Torres used Todd Akin's
Pomona assembly member Norma Torres used Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments as a weapon against male colleagues on Thursday.
The California National Guard/Flickr

Outrage over Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin's now-infamous "legitimate rape" comments spilled over onto the floor of the California Assembly on Thursday during an already-inflamed debate on an abortion bill when Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, responded to pro-abortion statements by her Republican colleagues.

Torres invoked Akin's words that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

"Women continue to be oppressed by the ignorance that our bodies can simply get rid of something a male has inserted inside of us that we did not want," said Torres.

When several colleagues began groaning at the reference, Torres immediately spat, "Don't 'awwww.' Don't say 'awwww.' Really, you're shocked? I am shocked that we're having this discussion on the floor."

A fellow Democratic lawmaker, Assemblyman Charles Calderon of Whittier, suggested Torres focus her remarks on the bill. The Pomona democrat shot back that she "refuse[s] as a woman to be shut down by you or any other man in this Assembly."

The bill would investigate whether nurse practitioners can safely perform a common method of abortion.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, carried the bill in the Assembly. She noted that it was former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, a Republican, who supported ending back-alley abortions when he signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act in his first year in office, 1967.

The bill, SB623, passed 46-24 and returns to the Senate for a vote on amendments.