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'Legitimate rape' comment by GOP's Todd Akin shakes up Missouri Senate race (+video)

Amid furor over Rep. Todd Akin's comment – that women's bodies are almost always able to prevent pregnancy in cases of 'legitimate rape' – Democrats have new hope of defending their most vulnerable US Senate seat.

Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri GOP US Senate candidate, talks about rape on a St. Louis television station Sunday.
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With one off-key comment by the Republican nominee, the Missouri Senate race has taken a dramatic turn – and suddenly, Democrats are thinking they might be able to save their most vulnerable Senate seat.

Rep. Todd Akin (R) told a TV interviewer Sunday that women’s bodies are almost always able to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” The six-term congressman, who faces first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November, was responding to a question on a St. Louis television station about abortion.

Pregnancies from rape are “really rare,” Congressman Akin said, basing this view on “what I understand from doctors.” He opposes abortion in all instances, including for pregnancies that result from rape.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said on KTVI-TV. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."

After immediate expressions of outrage from women’s groups and Democrats – including Senator McCaskill, who blasted Akin on Twitter – the congressman said he “misspoke.”

“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,” Akin said in a statement. “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.”

Sunday night, the Romney campaign said Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, disagree with Akin and that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape.

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