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Mourdock's divine rape stance could shake up Senate race

Mourdock's divine rape stance could shake up Senate race

NEW ALBANY, Ind. | Republican Richard Mourdock opposes abortion even in cases of rape because such pregnancies are God's will, he claimed during Tuesday's final U.S. Senate debate.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said, choking back tears.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly did not directly respond during the debate to Mourdock's belief in the divinity of pregnancy by rape. Donnelly said he opposes abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the health of a pregnant woman.

Following the debate, Donnelly said, "The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen — ever."

"What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape," Donnelly said.

Mourdock said after the debate his only point was, "God creates life." 

"God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does," Mourdock said. "Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."

Rape, pregnancy and abortion have been tricky issues for Republicans this election season. Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin lost nearly all mainstream Republican support after he said earlier this year that a woman's body can "shut down" to prevent a pregnancy caused by "legitimate rape."

It remains to be seen whether Mourdock will face the same backlash. In a television ad released Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called on Hoosiers to elect Indiana's two-term state treasurer to the Senate.

Aside from abortion, Donnelly and Mourdock reiterated familiar campaign themes during the one-hour debate at Indiana University Southeast.

Donnelly declared himself "a strong independent voice fighting for you" and touted his record of bipartisan cooperation during three terms in the U.S. House.

Mourdock attacked Donnelly for sacrificing his principles on the altar of party loyalty and repeatedly linked Donnelly to Democratic President Barack Obama, who is not expected to win Indiana on Nov. 6.

Despite their differences, the Republican and Democratic candidates both said they support gun rights, oppose gay marriage and are in favor of term limits.

A poll released Tuesday found Donnelly and Mourdock statistically tied in their race to replace Republican Dick Lugar in the U.S. Senate.

Libertarian Andrew Horning was the choice of 8 percent of likely voters in that poll and throughout Tuesday's debate reminded Hoosiers they don't have to "settle" for Mourdock or Donnelly.

"You can say no to all of the above and vote for something other than the two-party system," Horning said. "We can do better than this."


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