Richard Mourdock’s comments on rape and abortion stir controversy
Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who upset longtime incumbent Dick Lugar during the Republican primary, was asked about his views on abortion during a three-way debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning on Tuesday night.
Mourdock said, “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”
CBS News reports that Democrats “pounced” on these remarks, including Donnelly, who is a pro-life Catholic and said “I believe life begins at conception” during the debate, but supports the rape and incest exceptions. (For the record, Libertarian Horning also described himself as pro-life during the debate, saying that it was a mistake to view abortion as solely a women’s issue when men are obviously involved in the process of conception as well.)
“The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen – ever,” said Donnelly in a statement. “What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”
This is shockingly dishonest and disingenuous from Donnelly. He’s often criticized Mourdock for going too hard on Lugar during the primary, ostracizing the incumbent Senator instead of honorably disagreeing with him. Well, it’s time to swallow a long drink of your own medicine and practice some honorable disagreement yourself, Mr. Donnelly. Mourdock did not say that God commissioned rapes, or that the victims somehow deserved what happened to him. He was clearly talking about the divine intention behind the resulting life of the child. There’s no need to resort to political dirty tricks to “Akinize” him.
Indeed, virtually every media account of the exchange has mentioned Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. CNN slips him in halfway through its account of the Indiana Senate debate. But Akin made a remarkably foolish comment about the mythical ability of women’s bodies to repel the sperm from rapists. Mourdock uttered no such foolishness. He spoke honestly about a difficult moral issue, and while the belief he came to hold is a minority view, it’s not a wild fringe belief held by only a few extremists. Many pro-lifers have grappled with the difficult proposition of ending a human life (and Joe Donnelly clearly stated that’s what he thinks abortion entails) due to the circumstances of the conception, which are obviously beyond the control of the baby.
Since every media outlet is quoting Donnelly’s post-debate statements attacking Mourdock, it’s fair enough to consider Mourdock’s post-debate “clarification” as well: “What I said was, in answering the question form my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.”
You can judge Mourdock’s sincerity, and the full scope of his comments on abortion, for yourself, alongside the debate presentations of Donnelly and Horning. The full Senate debate video is below; the abortion discussion begins about 42 minutes in.
It is possible to disagree with Mourdock without trying to stuff him into a rickety political construct that includes Todd Akin, for the sole purpose of scoring a few cheap rhetorical points. (In the interests of full disclosure, I personally support the rape exception for abortion, but I have asked myself the same difficult questions Mourdock discussed.)
Mitt Romney has endorsed Mourdock, but his campaign issued a brief statement saying “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views.” That may or may not constitute the Romney campaign politically “distancing” itself from Mourdock, but it’s a fair statement of differing views – Romney does support the rape exception for abortion.
Meanwhile, Joe Donnelly claims he’s a pro-lifer who believes life begins at conception, and supports the Catholic church’s right to resist ObamaCare in the name of religious liberty. That makes him a wild-eyed extremist maniac who wants to wage “war on women” by Barack Obama’s standards. Is anyone asking Obama to denounce Donnelly and distance himself from this anti-woman fundamentalist?
It’s tough to say what the political impact of Mourdock’s debate performance will be. The race is pretty much a tie between him and Donnelly, with Horning holding a possibly tie-breaking 5 percent of the vote. The pro-life community in Indiana has come out strongly in support of Mourdock, castigating Donnelly for trying to “make rape a political issue,” as Indiana Right to Life PAC Chairman Mike Fichter told LifeNews.
“Richard Mourdock showed Hoosiers that he will stand up for all innocent, human life once elected to the U.S. Senate. Richard recognizes what our Founding Fathers wisely proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence,” Fichter continued. “They declared that we are endowed by our Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Rape is a vile act, committed in evil. When a pregnancy results out of this horrific crime, every bit of care and love must be shown to the victim. We believe that life begins at fertilization and with fertilization comes the right to life as affirmed in the Declaration of Independence.”
Fichter went on to note that elsewhere in Indiana on Tuesday night, two-time abortion survivor Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived after a rape attack, was addressing a Right to Life group. Others have noted that actress Angelina Jolie adopted a child conceived in rape.
Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, noted the deliberate attempts to link Mourdock to Akin for political profit, and said it was “unfortunate that some in the media and certain political leaders would take the heartfelt words of Richard Mourdock, which were based upon his belief that all life matters to God, and attempt to distort them.”
And Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser had some tough words for Democrat Joe Donnelly: “Richard Mourdock said that life is always a gift from God, and we couldn’t agree more. To report his statement as an endorsement of rape is either willfully ignorant or malicious. Congressman Donnelly should not underestimate our ability to understand Mourdock’s meaning. During the same debate, the Congressman once again claimed that he was a pro-life candidate. Actions speak louder than words, and Joe Donnelly’s vote forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions under Obamacare is all Hoosiers need to know about where Joe Donnelly really stands.”
That’s really what this all boils down to: Barack Obama is the worst abortion extremist on the American political landscape, and he has a proven willingness to use his power to force his views upon you. He’s not only brought the government into your bedroom; he’s installed taxpayer-funded vending machines next to your nightstand. Every Democrat in the Senate gives Obama more power, if he wins re-election. That’s not a chance anyone who is even marginally pro-life should be willing to take. Some pro-lifers may strongly disagree with Richard Mourdock… but all have reason to fear Barack Obama and his Party.