A row has erupted in the US after a congressman said women's bodies were naturally able to prevent pregnancy in the case of "legitimate rape".
Todd Akin, who is also running as Republican candidate for the Senate, made the comments in a TV interview to explain his strict views on abortion.
He later said he had "misspoken" but his Democratic rival said the comments were "beyond comprehension".
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he disagreed with the view.
During the interview for KTVI-TV, Mr Akin was asked about his no-exceptions view on abortion, a highly charged issue in the US, and on whether he would like abortion to be banned even if the pregnancy was the result of rape.
He replied: "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
"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."
'Flat-out astonishing' Flat-out astonishing'
The interview has sparked a furious reaction in the US, with critics attacking both Mr Akin's scientific view and his reference to "legitimate rape".
Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill said it was "beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape".
"The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
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