Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., a U.S. Senate candidate, quickly backed off comments that aired earlier Sunday in which he said that a woman's body "has ways" to prevent pregnancy during rape and that such pregnancies are "really rare."
Akin, a six-term congressman running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview that aired Sunday on St. Louis 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 added of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant.
He said in an e-mailed statement later Sunday: "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."
McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, said in an e-mailed statement: "It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so 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."
President Obama and Mitt Romney spent a quiet Sunday attending church with their families in Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire, respectively, resting up for the campaign's final 11 weeks .
Both men sent top advisers to the Sunday talk shows, where they sparred mainly over Medicare and taxes.