A Republican US Senate candidate has come under fire for suggesting that pregnancies caused by rape were "something God intended to happen".
Richard Mourdock, standing in a key race in Indiana, made the remarks in a debate with his Democrat opponent.
His comments come two months after those of Missouri Republican Todd Akin, who said women's bodies had ways of preventing pregnancy after rape.
Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is known to disagree with both candidates.
His campaign says that a Romney administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.
Mr Romney and President Barack Obama have entered the last two weeks of their campaigns for the presidency.
There are also 33 Senate seats up for grabs in the 6 November poll, and the Republicans are hoping to win control of the chamber.
'Out of touch'Mr Mourdock was asked during a debate with Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly whether he believed abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realise that 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," he said.
Democrats moved quickly to condemn the comments.
"As a pro-life Catholic, I'm stunned and ashamed that Richard Mourdock believes God intended rape," said Indiana party chairman Dan Parker, quoted by AFP news agency.
"Victims of rape are victims of an extremely violent act, and mine is not a violent God. Do we need any more proof that Richard Mourdock is an extremist who's out of touch with Hoosiers [Indiana residents]?"
The Indiana seat was held safely at the last election by veteran Republican Richard Lugar, but he was ousted by voters in a Republican primary in May.
Mr Mourdock is backed by conservative groups including the Tea Party and has pledged no compromise with the Democrats if he is elected.
The controversy over his remarks on rape echo the row that erupted in August when Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said that in cases of "legitimate" rape, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down".
At the time, Mr Romney and other senior Republicans urged Mr Akin to stand aside, but he refused, saying he misspoke and asking to be forgiven.
He has lost millions of dollars of funding as a result of the gaffe.