John Cornyn, the Texas senator who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, issued a statement this morning in support of Indiana Republican senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who is under fire for saying “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,”:
Richard and I, along with millions of Americans — including even Joe Donnelly — believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it’s come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life.
Cornyn is referring to the fact that Mourdock’s Democratic opponent, Indiana congressman Joe Donnelly, also describes himself as pro-life (although like Bart Stupak, Donnelly voted for Obamacare). Last year, Donnelly supported a bill backed by Todd Akin that banned government funding for abortions except in certain cases such as “forcible rape.” (Donnelly’s spokeswoman later made clear he didn’t approve of making the “forcible rape” category.) From an August Associated Press report:
Donnelly, [Mike] Pence and Akin joined 224 other House lawmakers, most of them Republicans, on a bill last year that would have cut off federal aid for abortion-related services for statutory rape and incest.
The bill established a separate category for “forcible rape” and allowed the services to continue for those. Following a massive outcry, lawmakers backtracked and restored the original language that did not differentiate among the types of rape.
. . .
The campaigns for both Pence and Donnelly said the men did not know the “forcible rape” language was in the bill when it was first introduced and opposed the measure until it was removed. …
“Joe is pro-life and supports legislation to ensure that no federal dollars go toward funding abortion-related services. That was the original intention of the bill, not to redefine rape,” said Donnelly spokeswoman Elizabeth Shappell.
For his part, Pence has issued a statement pushing Mourdock to apologize, saying, “I strongly disagree with the statement made by Richard Mourdock during last night’s Senate debate. I urge him to apologize.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to further stir up the controversy around Mourdock’s comments. Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said this morning, per CNN, that “This is a reminder that a Republican Congress working with a Republican president Mitt Romney would (feel) that women should not be able to make choices about their own health care.” (Romney does not agree with Mourdock that abortion should be illegal in cases of rape, and his campaign spokesperson said that “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views.”) DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has made this statement:
Richard Mourdock’s rape comments are outrageous and demeaning to women. Unfortunately, they’ve become part and parcel of the modern Republican Party’s platform toward women’s health, as Congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan have worked to outlaw all abortions and even narrow the definition of rape. As Mourdock’s most prominent booster and the star of Mourdock’s current campaign ads, Mitt Romney should immediately denounce these comments and request that the ad featuring him speaking directly to camera on Mourdock’s behalf be taken off the air.