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US Presidential Debate Clinton, Trump open with sharp exchange on abortion

Unlike the fiery attacks of the first two debates, Clinton and Trump had a sharp but issues-based exchange on abortion.

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US Republican candidate Donald Trump speaks during the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 19, 2016 play

US Republican candidate Donald Trump speaks during the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 19, 2016

(AFP)

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton clashed on abortion rights on Wednesday as they opened their third and last U.S. presidential debate with a substantive policy discussion on the Supreme Court and the top issues it faces.

In contrast to the fiery personal attacks of the first two debates, Clinton and Trump had a sharp but issues-based exchange on abortion, gun rights and immigration to start the 90-minute showdown.

Clinton promised to appoint justices who would uphold a woman's right to abortion laid out in the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision, while Trump promised to appoint what he called "pro-life" justices who would overturn the decision.

Under current law, Trump said, "You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby."

"Honestly, nobody has business doing what I just said, doing that as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth," Trump said.

Clinton said Trump's "scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate."

"This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make and I do not believe the government should be making it," Clinton said.

Trump said he would appoint a Supreme Court justice who would protect American gun rights.

He has said in the past that Clinton wants to "essentially abolish" the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing a right to bear arms.

Clinton said she supports gun rights, but wants additional regulations on guns, citing examples of children being hurt or killed in gun accidents. "I see no conflict between saving people's lives and defending the Second Amendment."

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