UK & World News
Republican: Rape Baby Is 'Gift From God'
A Republican politician has described pregnancies after women have been raped as a "gift from God".
Richard Mourdock, a US Senate candidate from Indiana, made the remarks at the end of a debate when he was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
He replied: "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realise life is that gift from God.
"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that's something God intended to happen."
Mr Mourdock is locked in a tight race with Democrat Joe Donnelly, who said after the debate that he does not believe "my God, or any God, would intend that to happen".
Indiana Democratic Party chair Dan Parker added: "As a pro-life Catholic, I'm stunned and ashamed that Richard Mourdock believes God intended rape."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought to distance himself from the controversial remarks.
His spokesman Andrea Sail said: "Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments and they do not reflect his views."
With the presidential candidates neck and neck, women voters in key swing states could decide the November 6 election, and a fresh row over abortion would distract from Mr Romney's focus on the sluggish US economy.
The Democratic National Committee quickly moved to connect Mr Romney to Mr Mourdock and sent out a link to a television ad where he endorsed the Senate candidate, although the video does not mention abortion or other social issues.
Mr Obama has long accused Mr Romney and other Republicans of having extreme views on abortion and women's rights.
Mr Romney, who has vowed to be a "pro-life president", has previously said he opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother's life.
His current presidential platform supports overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion, letting states decide on the legality of the practice.
Mr Mourdock's comments come two months after Republican Todd Akin, a Missouri GOP US Senate candidate, said women's bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape."
Those remarks dominated the US news cycle for days, provoking an avalanche of condemnation from both parties and calls by Mr Romney and other Republicans for Mr Akin to quit the race.
He refused to step aside, potentially damaging Republican hopes of wrestling back control of the 100-member Senate from Democrats in congressional elections, which will also be held on November 6.
The race for the White House is now entering a crucial stage with the two candidates frantically campaigning as the vote looms in just under two weeks.
Mr Obama is embarking on a 48-hour sprint through Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and Florida. He will also head to Virginia and Ohio, where Mr Romney will be campaigning.