(CBS) — Missouri GOP Congressman Todd Akin is apologizing for his controversial comments on rape, after coming under intense fire from both sides of the aisle, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, President Barack Obama, and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Asked Sunday if he would support abortions for rape victims, Akin said “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.”
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports those comments have given new life to Akin’s opponent in the race for U.S. Senate in Missouri, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, and has put the GOP on the defensive.
Both Democrats and Republicans had blasted Akin for his comments, even after he apologized.
“He has retracted that statement at this point, but it is an indication of a mindset on this issue which is troubling. It is so antithetical to any basic understanding of medical science,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said at an unrelated event in Chicago.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both criticized Akin’s comments, as well.
“The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape,” Obama said. “The idea that we should be parsing, and qualifying, and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people, and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”
Romney said Akin’s words were “insulting, inexcusable and – frankly – wrong.”
Akin apologized for his comments on Monday in an appearance on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, saying rape is “never legitimate.”
“It’s an evil act. It’s committed by violent predators,” Akin said. “I used the wrong words the wrong way.”
Akin said he won’t step down from Congress, or drop out of the race for U.S. Senate in Missouri.
“The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I’m not a quitter. My belief is we’re going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God, we’re going to win this race,”
Before the controversy, recent polls had shown Akin leading McCaskill in the race for U.S. Senate in Missouri.
McCaskill was quick to pounce on Akin’s gaffe, calling his comments “archaic” and “ill-informed.”
“This statement is kind of a window into Todd Akin’s mind,” McCaskill said on MSNBC on Monday.
Akin has been favored to defeat McCaskill, an incumbent democrat in a red-leaning state. Now, with his campaign in crisis, Akin is backpedalling fast.
“I made that statement in error. Let me be clear. Rape is never legitimate. I also know that people do become pregnant from rape, and I didn’t mean to imply that that wasn’t the case. It does happen, and it’s also terrible,” Akin said Monday.
With the Romney campaign trailing nationwide in the battle for women voters, it’s exactly the kind of controversy the Republican presidential hopeful doesn’t need. While campaigning with running mate Paul Ryan again Monday, Romney said his administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape.
Several prominent Republicans are demanding that Akin quit, including former Missouri U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
If you’re wondering how many rapes result in pregnancy, a variety of women’s groups estimate five percent, but that’s really an educated guess since many sexual assaults aren’t reported.