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The Republican candidate for the US senate in Indiana caused outrage by saying that if a woman is raped it is part of God’s will.

Richard Mourdock, who is a favourite of the conservative Tea Party movement, made the comments during a debate on abortion.

He had been locked in a close battle with Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly but these remarks could amount to political suicide:

“I believe that life begins at conception,” Mourdock said. “The only exception I have, to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it, myself, for a long time, but I came to realise life is a 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.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who on Monday launched state-wide ads endorsing Mourdock, immediately distanced himself from the comments.

The Republicans need a net gain of four seats in the elections on November 6 to take control of the US senate.

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