In defense of Richard Mourdock
It seems that GOP candidates still have not learned that they are better off not speaking about rape and abortion. Just weeks after Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comment, another conservative has stated his views on the issue - this time Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock:
“I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view but I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Now, I should get one thing out the way here. I personally find Mourdock’s comments to be callous, and as someone who does not personally believe in a deity, I could never imagine telling a woman who was impregnated by a rapist that it was “God’s will” to carry to term a baby fathered by a vicious attacker and forced on her through the most violent of means. It seems remarkably insensitive and lacking compassion.
But it’s not at all inconsistent or illogical given the thinking of pro-lifers. If you’re someone who genuinely believes that life begins at the moment of conception, it doesn’t matter to you the circumstances. I’ve always thought it to be very dishonest for “pro-life” candidates to be against abortion, but leave exceptions for rape and incest. If you believe that unborn fetuses have full human rights, then the only possible time you could be okay with ending that life is if another life is at stake or if you believe it is compassionate due to severe birth defects. And even then, that’s debatable.
The real problem is not Mourdock’s statement, and by no means should he “apologize” for it. He meant every word and it was in fact incredibly honest and consistent, things often lacking in politics. Rather, we owe him thanks. What he has revealed is the logical conclusion of the pro-life argument. It is not abortion being rare, but being totally illegal, under any circumstances. And this is not because of any scientific or medical basis, but purely based on a concept of divine will and one’s personal religious sentiments. This clearly runs counter to a country that is secular, at least in theory.
I know libertarians will disagree on abortion. Personally, as I’ve said before, I’m sympathetic to the pro-life argument - but only to a point. We live in a country that believes in the separation of church and state, and this concept is crucial to the continued liberty of all Americans, regardless of faith or non-faith. People who see fit to make laws based on their personal religious beliefs are incompatible with this framework. So no, Mr. Mourdock, you should not apologize, except to those on your side that now have to defend making rape victims keep their babies. Instead, thanks for reminding all of us why yourself and other social conservatives should not be in power.