INDIANAPOLIS - Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Indiana, said in a debate on Tuesday that "even when life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."
The remark drew criticism from his Democratic opponent, congressman Joe Donnelly, as well as from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's camp - even as Mourdock defended his words.
During the debate in New Albany, Indiana, Mourdock, Donnelly and Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning were asked about their views on abortion.
"The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother," Mourdock said. "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen."
Mourdock, the state treasurer who is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, ousted longtime Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary earlier this year. He is locked in a tight race with Donnelly ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Mourdock's comments "outrageous and demeaning to women."