Rape row politician disappears

The would-be American senator who claimed women's bodies were able to prevent pregnancies if they were raped has gone into hiding amid a storm of protest over his remarks.

Anti-abortion Republican Todd Akin was asked in an interview if he would support terminations for rape victims.

He replied: "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."

His campaign spokesman said he was making no public appearances and did not plan any further comments on the issue. He cancelled a scheduled radio interview.

The six-term congressman is the Republican nominee for US Senate in Missouri, opposing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the November election.

The election is one of this year's most closed watched races as it represents one of the Republicans' best chances of defeating a Democratic incumbent as they try to gain control of the Senate.

After his remarks Mr Akin released a statement saying that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not say specifically which points.

His comments brought a swift rebuke from the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his choice for vice president, Paul Ryan.

The Missouri Senate race is one of the more hotly contested, with control of the Senate up for grabs. Ms McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, is considered vulnerable because of her strong ties to President Obama - she was an early supporter in 2008 - and the fact that Missouri is considered an increasingly conservative state. She called Mr Akin's comments "offensive."

Mr Akin, 65, a former state politician who first won election to the US House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.