Senior Republicans are rushing to distance themselves from remarks made by Congressman Todd Akin in a television interview as he explained his views on abortion.
His reference to “legitimate rape” has sparked a furious reaction in the US.
He was asked by an interviewer: “Are there any circumstances in your mind in which abortion should be legal?“
Todd Akin replied: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, you know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be for the rapist, not attacking the child.”
The ensuing row has forced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to denounce Akin’s views and clarify his campaign’s abortion stance at a time when he would prefer to focus on the economy.
It has also highlighted a split between him and his newly-announced running mate Paul Ryan, who, unlike Romney, privately opposes abortion in the case of rape.