(WASHINGTON) — Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who opposes abortion in most cases, including rape, said in a television interview Sunday that it is “really rare” that victims of “legitimate rape” get pregnant.
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin, who is running against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in an interview on the Jaco Report on KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
He added that if the woman does become pregnant, “the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
McCaskill called the comments “offensive.”
“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” she said in a statement. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”
Akin later released a statement saying he “misspoke” and that he has “deep empathy” 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,” he said. “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.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Dylan Byers, CNN