ST. LOUIS — Missouri Rep. Todd Akin apologized Monday for his televised comments that women's bodies are able to prevent pregnancies if they are victims of "a legitimate rape," but he refused to heed calls to abandon his bid for the Senate.
Appearing on former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's radio show, Akin said 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."
Calls for Akin's exit from the race grew Monday, with at least two Republican senators — Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — saying he should resign the party's nomination.
But Akin, who has served six terms, pledged to continue the race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
"The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I'm not a quitter," he said. "And my belief is we're going to take this thing forward and by the grace of God, we're going to win this race."
Asked in an interview Sunday on KTVI-TV if he would support abortions for women who have been raped, 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."
Later Sunday, Akin released a statement saying that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not say specifically which points were in error.
"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's statement said.
Akin also said he believes "deeply in the protection of all life" and does "not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."
Brown, considered to be one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans in the November election, said Akin's comments were "outrageous, inappropriate and wrong."
An official with the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee said the group's head, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, called Akin on Monday to tell him that the committee had withdrawn $5 million in advertising.