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Richard Mourdock draws firestorm over comment on rape resulting in pregnancy

October 24, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
Plenty of politicians seem to be afflicted with foot in the mouth disease this campaign season. The latest is Richard Mourdock, a Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Indiana, who said pregnancy resulting from rape can be something God intended.

The uproar over his comment was predictable. Fellow Republicans, including Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney, rushed to distance themselves from him. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Mourdock's comments "outrageous and demeaning to women" and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said "Enough is enough. The Republican party needs to stop the coddling and take a stand against the horribly offensive and dangerous views of the Tea Party and their extreme candidates," according to a report on FOX news.

Despite all the noise over what he said, I don't think Mourdock was saying anything all that shocking, though he probably should have been savvy enough to know how his words would be interpreted. Mourdock, quoted by FOX news, explained his comments thusly: "God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."

I didn't think either Mourdock or Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, who made the infamous "legitimate rape" comment a few weeks back, were condoning rape. Their stance is also the official position of the Roman Catholic Church, which believes life begins at conception and forbids abortion in all cases. Like Mourdock, the Catholic Church doesn't condone rape but it does teach that human life in all its forms, no matter the manner of conception, is sacred and ending it unnaturally is a sin. Its position is essentially "two wrongs don't make a right" and that aborting the unborn child isn't going to help end the mother's pain and trauma.

Other denominations have varying views on abortion, though some also take the Catholic position. I'm not sure what denomination Mourdock or Akin might be. Other conservative candidates and probably some Christian denominations who profess to be pro-life qualify that teaching somewhat by saying they favor abortion only in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is threatened. Mourdock is apparently to the right of those conservative candidates and condones abortion only in cases where it is necessary to save the life of the mother, a position to the left of the Catholic Church, which doesn't condone abortion even then.

With all due respect to Wasserman Schultz and Murray, I'd far rather hear what candidates actually believe than to hear a lot of carefully spun sound bites. Indiana voters have a right to judge Mourdock on his merits and to know what they're getting if they send him to the Senate. Some will hate what he said; some will applaud it. But on voting day, they won't be able to pretend they don't know who he is or how he's likely to vote in the Senate.


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