WASHINGTON - A US Republican congressman has sparked outrage with comments that women's bodies could prevent pregnancy in case of "legitimate rape".
"The views expressed were offensive," US President Barack Obama told reporters, Reuters reported.
"Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."
Missouri congressman Todd Akin has earlier said that women have biological defenses to prevent pregnancy in case of "legitimate rape".
"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare," Akin, who is running for a Senate seat, said when asked if he would back abortion even if pregnancy was the result of rape.
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," said Akin, who is vying against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill on November 6.
"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."
The Republican hopeful was forced to apologize following widespread condemnations from the political spectrum and women's groups.
Akin said he misspoke when he made the comments, but said he had no plans to resign from the Senate race.
"I'm not a quitter," Akin said on a radio show hosted by former Governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite of religious conservative Republicans.
Akin said he was talking about "forcible rape".
"Rape is never legitimate," he said.
Akin, a six-term congressman from the St. Louis suburbs, won the Republican nomination to oppose McCaskill just two weeks ago after a hard-fought three-way primary race.
Republican politicians were also quick to distance themselves from the congressman's comments on rape.
"Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," White House candidate Mitt Romney told the National Review online on Monday.
Romney's campaign also issued a statement saying he and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, support abortion rights for rape victims.
Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape, his spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.
In Tampa, where Republicans are preparing their annual convention next week, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell condemned Akin's comments as "absolutely wrong.
"They appear to be based on bad science, bad facts, he told Bloomberg.
McDonnell argued that any discussion of rape "absolutely should condemn violence in every form against women.
"So while many of us strongly support the right to life, we also strongly disagree with these comments as representing policies that the pro-life community should embrace."
Republican Senator Scott Brown called on Akin to resign.
"As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong, Brown, who is locked in a tight race against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, said in a statement on his website.
There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking, he said."Not only should he apologize, but I believe Representative Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri.