And now another Republican male politician has talked himself into the abortion controversy. Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock declared during a Tuesday night U.S. Senate debate that a woman who gets pregnant by her rapist is carrying a “gift from God” and thus must have the child.
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” he said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock, who became visibly emotional while speaking, supports abortion only to save a mother’s life, not in cases of rape and incest.
It didn’t take long for the BlogTweetTalkingHeadCosmos to erupt, with Democrats implying that Mourdock’s God is pro-rape and reminding voters, especially women, that Missouri Rep. Todd Akin opined in August that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. That assertion cost him dearly in money and support — with Mitt Romney and several top GOP leaders vainly suggesting he quit the race to oust Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He refused.
Mourdock’s Democratic rival, Rep. Joe Donnelly, quickly entered the fray after Tuesday’s debate. “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen — ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape,” he said in a statement.
Lest anyone think he actually believes rape is God’s gift, Mourdock issued his own vehement post-debate clarification: “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.”
It’s safe to assume almost no one considers rape a gift of any sort, and that many reasonable people, even those who back full abortion access, understand what Mourdock meant, however clunky his syntax and however much they disagree with him.
But Romney — who despite a recent surge in the polls still lags among women — was taking no chances with Akin’s headline-grabbing successor, given his own history of multiple positions on abortion. “Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” said campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. The candidate supports abortion in cases of rape and incest, as well as to save a mother’s life.
Still, Romney remains tied to Mourdock in an Indiana TV ad that began running Monday. The on-camera endorsement makes no mention of abortion. Instead, Romney touts Mourdock as the would-be president’s 51st Senate vote to undo Obamacare, and as a foe of Capitol Hill’s Democratic agenda. It is not known how much longer the ad starring Romney will remain on the air.
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads the Democratic National Committee, has already suggested that Romney pull the TV endorsement and slammed Mourdock’s statements as “outrageous and demeaning to women.”
It is a Newtonian truism in politics that where there is blowback, there will be pushback. In this case, Mourdock defenders are rallying behind the embattled candidate who lost three earlier races for Congress before winning a post as Indiana Treasurer, from which he launched a tea party-backed victory over longtime Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar, for whom bipartisanship was a virtue.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, who heads the Susan B. Anthony List and a PAC that supports antiabortion Republicans, contended that “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.”
She also assailed Donnelly for calling himself “a pro-life candidate” during the debate. “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.” On Monday, Indiana voters began seeing a $40,000 TV ad buy from the group making just that point against the Democrat.
And so it goes … and so it goes. This is hardly the last of the Mourdock saga.