BOSTON - Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren are both rejecting comments by a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri who said women's bodies are able to prevent pregnancies in cases of what he called "a legitimate rape.
Sen. Brown has called for the resignation of Todd Akin, who said women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in "a legitimate rape" and conception is rare in those cases.
"As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong," said a statement from Brown. "There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking."
Warren called the comments "reprehensible," and said Akin is in line with a Republican agenda to limit health care, deny women equal pay and cut Planned Parenthood funding.
Rep. Todd Akin, a six-term congressman running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill for Senate, was asked in an interview on St. Louis television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.
"It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant.
"Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri," said Brown.
Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not specify on which points or comments.
"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said.
Akin also said in the statement he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."
Akin's comments brought a swift rebuke from the campaign of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Romney.
"Gov. Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, in an emailed statement Sunday called the comments "offensive."
"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," McCaskill said. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
This month, Akin won the state's Republican U.S. Senate primary by a comfortable margin. During the primary, Akin enhanced his standing with TV ads in which former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee praised him as "a courageous conservative" and "a Bible-based Christian" who "supports traditional marriage" and "defends the unborn."
Akin, a former state lawmaker who first won election to the U.S. House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.
Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, on Sunday called Akin's remarks "flat-out astonishing."
"That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims. ... That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women," she told AP Radio.
Akin was interviewed on KTVI's "The Jaco Report," and also talked about numerous campaign issues, such as voter ID laws, the economy and Medicare. KTVI said the interview was conducted earlier in the week.