By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri released new ads on Wednesday attacking Republican challenger Todd Akin's views on emergency contraception and his comments that women can naturally fend off pregnancies caused by "legitimate rape."
The commercials, featuring interviews with two rape victims and one survivor of a violent sexual assault, were posted on McCaskill's campaign website and began airing on television on Wednesday.
The ads mark McCaskill's most aggressive effort to highlight the comments Akin made in August about "legitimate rape," which thrust their pivotal U.S. Senate race into the national spotlight. At the time, Akin said women have a biological defense against pregnancies that might be caused by such rapes. He later retracted the comment and apologized, but refused to leave the race.
Akin, a six-term congressman, said earlier in August he opposed the so-called morning-after contraception pill, calling it a form of abortion. He made no exception for rape victims.
In the new commercials, a woman who was violently sexually assaulted said Akin "showed his true colors" in alluding to "legitimate rapes." She said that as a woman of faith she could forgive Akin, but as a voter could not forget what he said.
Another woman raped during a home invasion said she took emergency contraception, which Akin "would criminalize." She said "at the worst moment of her life, no woman should be denied that choice."
Another woman, who identified herself as a pro-life Republican and a rape victim, said she declined to take the emergency contraception pill but that the decision should remain hers, not anyone else's.
Akin spokesman Ryan Hite said on Wednesday that Akin was on record opposing the morning-after pill. But Hite said he had not "delved into" Akin's position in the case of rape and could not comment further.
McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said opposing emergency contraception for rape victims "is so far to the extreme and is really troubling for Missouri."
On Wednesday, Akin took the offensive against McCaskill on the subject of tax returns. He called for the release of the past five years of tax returns filed by her and her husband. So far McCaskill has released only her own, most recent tax return.
Akin has not released any returns, but would do so if McCaskill released the past five years of tax returns, Hite said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and David Brunnstrom)