WASHINGTON — Sen. Susan Collins and other Maine politicians joined the chorus of people denouncing Missouri Rep. Todd Akin for his comments on abortion and rape victims, with Collins calling the statements “deeply offensive and hurtful.”

On Sunday, the Missouri Republican and Senate candidate suggested in a television interview that women who are the victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant due, in part, to the ability of women’s bodies to biologically prevent such pregnancies.

The comments, which were in response to a question about why he opposes allowing abortions even for rape victims, sparked an immediate backlash from both sides of the political aisle.

“Congressman Akin’s comments are not only outrageous and bizarre, they are also without any factual basis,” Collins said in a statement Monday afternoon.

“His comments are deeply offensive and hurtful to all women, especially survivors of rape and sexual assault.”

Three of Collins’ would-be colleagues in the Senate also strongly criticized the Missouri representative.

Charlie Summers, the Republican candidate seeking to win Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat this November, called on Akin to step down from his House seat.

“As a husband and a father, I found Rep. Akin’s comments shockingly offensive, reprehensible and indefensible,” Summers, the current Maine secretary of state, said in a statement. “They are beneath the dignity of the United States Congress and he should resign effective immediately.”

Cynthia Dill, the Democratic nominee for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat, tried to use the incident to rally her party’s base, calling Akin’s comments “just the latest GOP far-right attack on women in this country.”

“I have said this before and today it bears repeating: The far-right ideology has taken over our national government, it has seized the Congress, and Democrats need to come together and fight it,” Dill said.

Former Gov. Angus King, who is running for Snowe’s seat as an independent, also denounced the comments.

“It’s a ridiculous and offensive statement to everyone,” King spokeswoman Crystal Canney said Monday.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

[email protected]