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Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights, said she wasn’t shocked by Mr. Mourdock’s comment because it was in line with Republican doctrine.

“This appalling agenda is an entrenched part of Republican politics — and women voters know it,” she said. “That’s why in two weeks, they’re going to turn out to reject Republican attempts to roll back the clock on our basic freedoms.”

But the push for a full-abortion ban plays well with many conservative religious groups. Joshua Mercer, executive director of the Candidate Fund, said Mr. Mourdock’s abortion stance lines up with Catholic doctrine.

“There can be no doubt that Catholics in Indiana have only one pro-life candidate for the United States Senate. The men and women of are proud to stand with Richard Mourdock,” Mr. Mercer said.

Whether the rest of the Indiana electorate will support the Republican is uncertain. Michael Wolf, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, says the focus on Mr. Mourdock’s remark interferes with his attempt to portray himself as a moderate.

“Beyond the substance of the statement and its effect on voters, Mourdock has just punted his postprimary narrative of moderation,” Mr. Wolf said. “The news cycle and airwaves will be eaten up with this, rather than his appeals for the moderate Lugar voters he needs in a tight race.”

Mr. Mourdoch defeated six-term Sen. Richard G. Lugar in the party’s Senate primary earlier this year.

The Mourdock controversy comes about two months after the GOP was forced to deal with Republican Senate candidate Rep. W. Todd Akin of Missouri, who was widely condemned for saying that victims of “legitimate” rape are unlikely to become pregnant.

Mr. Akin, who defied calls from many party leaders to step down from the race, has slipped significantly in most polls since his comment and now trails Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

In Indiana, with both parties desperate to capture the state’s open Senate seat, don’t look for the issue to die down anytime soon.

“Victims of rape are victims of an extremely violent act, and mine is not a violent God,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, who describes himself as a pro-life Catholic. “Do we need any more proof that Richard Mourdock is an extremist who’s out of touch with Hoosiers?”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.