ST. LOUIS (KFVS/AP) - Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri's GOP Senate candidate, has questioned whether women can become pregnant when they're raped.
Akin said in an interview with St. Louis television station KTVI released Sunday that pregnancy from rape is "really rare." A video of the interview is posted on the station's website.
Akin has said he opposes most abortions, and said in the interview that if a woman is raped, her body "has ways to shut that whole thing down."
Akin has served six terms and has said he's Missouri's most conservative congressman. He's running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill's campaign said Sunday that "Akin's record is riddled with policies and votes that hurt women."
Akin said Sunday the punishment for rape should be focused on the rapist and not "attacking the child."
Akin released the following statemement after appearing on KTVI's 'Jaco Report' that was broadcast in St. Louis on Sunday morning:
"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. 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. 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. 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.
"But I also believe that this election is about a wide-range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. We've had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats' failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead."
Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this report.