US politician lies low after 'inexcusable' rape comment
on 20/08/2012 17:49:06
Anti-abortion Republican Todd Akin was asked in an interview if he would support terminations for rape victims.
He replied: "It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Today his campaign spokesman said he was making no public appearances and did not plan any further comments on the issue. He cancelled a scheduled radio interview.
The six-term congressman is the Republican nominee for US Senate in Missouri, opposing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the November election.
The election is one of this year's most closed watched races as it represents one of the Republicans' best chances of defeating a Democratic incumbent as they try to gain control of the Senate.
After his remarks Mr Akin released a statement saying that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not say specifically which points.
"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," the statement said.
He added 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."
His comments brought a swift rebuke from the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his choice for vice president, Paul Ryan.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," a spokeswoman said.
Mr Romney went further in an interview with National Review Online, calling Mr Akin's comment "inexcusable".
"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said.
"Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
The Missouri Senate race is one of the more hotly contested, with control of the Senate up for grabs. Ms McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, is considered vulnerable because of her strong ties to President Obama - she was an early supporter in 2008 - and the fact that Missouri is considered an increasingly conservative state.
She called Mr Akin's comments "offensive".
"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," she said. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
Mr Akin, 65, a former state politician who first won election to the US House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.