Asked tonight at a debate about abortion in cases of rape, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Now, after the debate, Mourdock said in a statement, “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.”
The immediate reaction has been: Hello, Todd Akin 2.0. The Associated Press write-up prominently brings up Akin:
Mourdock’s comments come two months after embattled GOP Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said during a television interview that women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.” . . .
It was not clear what affect, if any, the comment might have on Mourdock’s campaign in the final two weeks before the Nov. 6 election. Akin has repeatedly apologized but has refused to leave his state’s U.S. Senate race despite calls to do so by leaders of his own party, from GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on down.
And Mourdock’s comments have already become national-ticket news: BuzzFeed reports that Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul e-mailed, “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views” and that “Saul did not respond when asked if Romney continues to endorse Mourdock.”
I’m not sure why Mourdock thought it would be helpful to bring up God in this context; personally, as someone pro-life and religious, I think when talking about something as painful as pregnancy in the case of rape, it’s best to talk about how the unborn child is a human being, regardless of the horrific circumstances of conception, and leave aside politically irrelevant speculation about what God does and doesn’t do.
But nor do I see his comment being equal to Akin’s. Akin, asked about abortion in the cases of rape, responded, “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” That comment was offensive because it implied there was illegitimate rape, and suggested (erroneously) that almost never would a raped woman become pregnant.
Mourdock’s comment didn’t get into whether rapes could be illegitimate (instead calling rape a “horrible situation”), nor did he claim that biologically, raped women were very, very unlikely to become pregnant. Instead he, sounding very emotional, talked about a child being a product of rape but also a product of God’s grace. Again, I don’t think it was helpful for him to speculate on that. But it wasn’t equal to Akin’s remark.