U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann declined to say whether she agrees with an Indiana candidate's claim that pregnancies that result from rape are God's will.

During a debate with her Sixth Congressional District challenger Jim Graves Thursday morning, Bachmann repeated her conviction that abortion should be banned. The only exception, she said, should be should be if the life of the mother is at stake.

"I'm 100 percent pro-life," Bachmann said during Thursday morning's Sixth District Congressional debate on Minnesota Public Radio. "I believe that life is precious from conception until natural death. I believe it should be protected, and I believe that there needs to be an exception for the life of the mother, but other than that--"

"But not of rape?" asked NPR reporter Kerri Miller, who was moderating the debate between Bachmann and her Democratic challenger Jim Graves.

"I stand by the position I've held for 40 years, which is the position of the Catholic Church," Bachmann said.

Miller asked whether Bachmann agreed with Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's claim that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."

"That isn't what's at issue," Bachmann replied. "The issue is, what is the position on this issue of abortion. It's not a small issue. It's a big issue. Because in the last 40 years, 52 million Americans that aren't here today because of abortions. … It isn't just these really rare cases that we deal with, it's the big overall issue of abortion and the legality of abortion."

Miller asked again whether Bachmann agrees with Mourdock.

"What I agree with is that I'm 100 percent pro-life and I agree with the position of the Catholic Church on this issue," Bachmann replied.

Bachmann also repeated her support for a constitutional "personhood" amendment that would ban abortion. Asked how such an amendment would affect couples seeking in-vitro fertilization – a process that can destroy or risk human embryos -- Bachmann said she might consider "waivers."

Her challenger, hotel magnate Jim Graves, said abortion is an issue between a woman, her doctor and her God.

"I have a granddaughter, and God forbid anything ever happen like that," he said. "I don't want the government to be involved in that process. I'm a strong believer that we need to come together as a country, and when a woman is in a very difficult situation, that's between her family and her God. I'm not going to get involved in that. Not while I'm involved in that."

Asked about Mourdock, Graves said, "I don't share his thoughts whatsoever."