(CNN) – U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who won Missouri's GOP Senate primary earlier this month and will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November's general election, said Sunday that he misspoke when he claimed "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy.
Answering a question about whether or not he thought abortion should be legal in the case of rape, Akin explained his opposition by citing unnamed bodily responses he said prevented pregnancy.
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"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said of rape-induced pregnancy in an interview with KTVI. A clip of the interview was posted online by the liberal super PAC American Bridge.
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin continued. He did not provide an explanation for what constituted "legitimate rape."
He added: "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
In a statement Sunday, Akin wrote that he misspoke in the interview. He maintained his opposition to abortion for victims of rape.
"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 wrote. "Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve."
"I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue," Akin continued. "But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election."
Statistics on pregnancies that result from rape are difficult to produce, since rape is a crime that often goes unreported. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, along with Planned Parenthood, each estimate that 5% of rapes lead to pregnancy. A 1996 study from the Medical University of South Carolina found the same percentage, adding that 32,101 pregnancies occurred annually from rape.
Akin, a six-term U.S. congressman, touted his socially conservative values on the primary campaign trail, and gained the support of 2008 presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He was one of the first members of Congress to join the Tea Party Caucus in 2010 and has easily won re-election in recent years.
The lawmaker raised a notable $2.2 million this cycle, as of July 18.
Akin - who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee - has long held a hard-line stance on abortion. He is opposed to abortions in all circumstances, and has said he also opposes the morning after pill, which he equates to abortion.
McCaskill, who is up against Akin in November's general election, almost immediately struck upon her opponent's comments Sunday, writing on Twitter: "As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM."
She later released a statement condemning her rival as "ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape."
“The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive," she continued.
McCaskill's website also splashed Akin's comments across the homepage, and included a link where supporters could donate money to McCaskill's campaign.
Republicans consider McCaskill, first elected in 2006, highly vulnerable in her re-election bid for a second term. Ahead of the GOP primary, a Mason-Dixon poll showed the senator falling behind each of the three main GOP competitors in hypothetical match-ups among registered Missouri voters.
A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney wrote that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, did not share Akin's sentiments on rape.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote.
CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.
Ohh you misspoke..you being a complete idiot is ok then. No big deal if you misspoke. You are exactly what's wrong with country, you say something so wrong that you should be forbidden to reproduce to help keep more idiots from you getting "missvoted" for.
And this moron sits on the House Science Committee?! We certainly need his keen scientific mind in the Senate.
"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,"
Yeah, now we all know the "empathy" you have for all women, just like all the GOP males.
And we still doubt that this is the way Republicans think? Amazing! And then to say he misspoke? Preposterous.
That's not misspeaking, that is full on Ace Ventura talking out your rear end.
I can not believe that Republican men, such as Akin are running our country! We need to get rid of them.! What we really need to do is have congress consist of 1/2 women and 1/2 men Equally. These men, who think they are so smart are ignorant beyond belief!
He is RIGHT ! He does NOT get pregnant if he legitimately gets raped by some guys ! Why the discussion ? ;-)
This is stupid. Cannot be defended. We need every last vote in congress and Whitehouse to overturn Obamacare monstrosity. We do nt need and cannot afford more 'I am not a witch' moments this election cycle.
The republican brand is worthless and idots like this prove it. This country needs a two party system with both parties with decent educations. Where to they find guys like under a rock?
Rep. Akin is absolutely wrong with his off-the-cuff myopic comment! Please vote these guys out and replace them with people who have enough drive and compassion to research their comments before they say such hateful things. Peer-reviewed evidence can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8765248.
I believe his comb-over can induce abortions.
Yes he is a legitimate idiot!
Doh! How totally ignorant is this guy???
This neanderthal is why abortion foes will never have any forward movement. I am against using abortion as a means of birthcontrol, but with idiots like this in Congress there will never be a meaningful conversation.
A real and true monster. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is nothing more and certainly nothing less than a real life Monster.
The republican brand is worthless and idots like this prove it. This country needs a two party system with both parties with decent educations. Where to they find guys like this under a rock?
and this guys is in congress? i have high hopes for this country.... /sarcasm off.
What in the hell does "legitimate rape" mean?
Unbelievable. That a man with such a gross level of incompetence is put in a position to pass regulations regarding my own health... I'm literally at a loss of words. This is just obscene.
No WONDER women don't need contraception. Thanks for clearing that up!!! This guy has my vote fore SUPERMORON!!!
THIS GUY IS IN OFFICE? HE HAS THE BRAIN OF A 4 YR OLD
Jacob Zuma was cleared of raping his housekeeper after claiming it was consentual. When the victim revealed her HIV status, he dismissed the disease as being able to wash immediately to avoid contracting. Jacob Zuma is now president of South Africa where rape and violation of women's rights runs quite rampant. If he was American, he would probably be a conservative Repuplican.
No WONDER women don't need contraception. Thanks for clearing that up!!!
this guy is a clear example of completely out of touch and i hope voters in his district get rid of him
... sometimes I am convinced I will vote Republican in the next election ... but then it seems like a Todd Akin always comes along and sets me straight ...