This shit keeps happening. First we had Todd Akin saying a “legitimate rape” can’t establish a pregnancy, so there’s no such thing as a rape exception for abortion law. Then we had Roger Rivard telling us how “some girls rape easy,” and we can’t trust a young woman who reports a rape. Now we have Richard Mourdock explaining very earnestly how there can be no rape exception because pregnancy by rape is God’s intention. We have all these Republican Congressional candidates saying these horrifying things about rape, pregnancy and women’s reproductive freedom, and they all think that if they just explain themselves a little harder, then we’ll see they’re decent guys who don’t hate women at all.
They are mistaken. Their further explanations merely dig them deeper into that hole.
Indiana candidate Mourdock has put himself in the national spotlight with this business:
Mourdock was asked during the final minutes of a debate whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
He replied: “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.”
“I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”
He wants us to know he’s put a lot of thought into this. With that in mind…
Mourdock explained after the debate he did not believe God intended the rape, but that God is the only one who can create life.
“Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don’t think that,” Mourdock said. “Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said.”
Sperm and egg have no consciousness, but rape is not an accident. Let’s not forget: rape is a decision that one human being makes against another. So…how does God’s intention for a viable pregnancy match up with God’s total non-involvement with the rape that brought the sperm into contact with the egg?
He continued to run his mouth today, and yet his struggled-out position isn’t looking any better:
U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R-IN) refused to apologize for suggesting that pregnancies that result from rapes are a “gift from God,” during a press conference on Wednesday morning. Instead, he doubled down, claiming that while God would not condone rape, life that results from the violent act is a gift: “Life is precious, I believe it is a gift from God, I believe that God would never want anyone harmed, sexually abused, raped.”
He’s very, very determined to make us understand that he knows rape is a bad thing and God is not behind it. At the same time, he still wants us to know that the embryo conceived by rape was totally God’s idea.
I guess the idea is that some guy, who likes to hurt women, decides, totally without God’s input, to commit a rape. He chooses his victim, he approaches her, isolates her, carries out the attack, all without God’s help. While he’s brutalizing this woman, God sees what’s going on, and he doesn’t like it! But he decides that that moment, and that violent encounter, is a good time to create the beginning of a new human being.
In that case, God isn’t much of a planner.
Mourdock continues to generate word salad:
“I spoke from my heart…when speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I cannot apologize,” Mourdock explained, though he expressed regret that some people misunderstood what he said and claimed that the controversy demonstrates “what’s wrong with Washington today.” He also reiterated that he still does not believe that women should be able to obtain abortions in cases of rape.
“The one exception I see for abortion is for that choice when the doctor realizes that the woman’s life is in danger,” he said. “I said life is precious. I believe life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I ashore [abhor? --ed.] and that anyone can come away with any meaning with what I just said is regrettable and for that I apologize. I know the reverence I have for life.”
So, he is aware that rape is an act, and not just a bout of bad weather. He also acknowledges that occasionally, a woman cannot continue a pregnancy without running a very high risk of dying—which is better than some anti-choicers do—and rates the woman’s life as more important than the fetus, so he has some level of compassion for the woman, or at least some sense of what other people expect of him.
Let’s pause here for a moment: if every conception is a gift from God, then why do untenable pregnancies happen? If no meeting of sperm and egg ever happens without God’s permission, then where is God when that woman’s pregnancy goes horribly wrong? I guess he hasn’t yet worked the kinks out of the process of giving life.
Does Mr. Mourdock remember that the reason why “exception for rape or incest” keeps coming up in the abortion debate is that most women don’t want to have their rapists’ babies? If the pregnancy from rape is a gift from God, just who is the recipient of that gift? If a woman is seeking an abortion after a rape, then she clearly doesn’t see her pregnancy as a gift. Even for the women who birth and raise the babies, I think they would have liked it a lot better if God had given the rapist a panic attack before he came within arm’s reach of her.
Let’s go out on a limb and suppose the “gift” of this miraculous life isn’t necessarily for the woman whose womb is now occupied by a rapist’s spawn. Let’s say God is actually giving a gift to society by arranging for another woman to add a child to the ranks. If the woman doesn’t want to raise a child, the anti-choice is always eager to remind us that the woman can “just” adopt the baby out. After the rapist chooses her as his victim, then God makes it all better by choosing her for the honor of going through the risks and restrictions of pregnancy so that her country gets another citizen.
I suppose Mr. Mourdock’s answer would be that the way the woman feels about her pregnancy has no bearing on the value of God’s gift. It doesn’t matter what she wants, or, she doesn’t really know what she wants, or, if she’s denied the option of abortion, she’ll grow to love that baby.
If God is so totally uninterested in the woman’s desires for what happens in her life and how her body is used, then…how are we so sure he didn’t ordain the rape? The abortion debate is ultimately a question of the rights and responsibilities of women who do not want to be pregnant. In all his “struggling” with himself over this question, did Mr. Mourdock ever stop to ask how a coerced pregnancy makes the woman feel? Even the healthiest pregnancy takes a chunk of time out of the woman’s life and her body never quite goes back to the way it was before. Whether she adores or abandons the baby, the process takes a psychological toll. The idea of a God who hates rape but loves forced pregnancy is kind of an oxymoron, to be honest. I don’t want that God dictating the laws of my country.
Alyson Miers is the author of Charlinder’s Walk.