Richard Mourdock, Abortion And Rape – Oh My!

Richard Mourdock, Abortion And Rape – Oh My!

By: Amanda Fox

Richard Mourdock

Richard Mourdock, Indiana senatorial candidate, has created quite a storm of controversy with his statements concerning – wait for it – rape and abortion. By now, many have read or heard about his statement in which he described the children of rape as a gift from God. Context is everything when you examine a statement like that, and while it is hard to equate anything that has to do with a loving creator to one of the most base and vile crimes imaginable, we have to be fair when we look at what he said and what he means.

My first reaction was shock and disgust when I read the headline  ‘Pregnancies by rape are something God meant to happen’. So I dug deeper to see what the full context was. Surely he couldn’t be so thick as to say something like that knowing the furor created by the likes of Akin and company when defending their pro-life stance. The full quote reads as:

 
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realise 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.”

If you’d like a fuller look at it, here is the clip in question so you can decide on the context of his statement for yourself.

Mourdock courted and attained the endorsement of the Tea Party. His stance that life begins at conception and on abortion have been known since 1992 in his first failed electoral bid. He is not in support of abortion in cases of rape and incest as stated above. If you backtrack and look at his earlier statements more critically, even in what he describes as “crisis” cases, he leans toward abortion not even really being an option.

Was he wrong to say what he did about abortion? The simple answer is no. He was speaking to his Christian beliefs and view of the issue. His stance was never a secret coming into this debate, election, or any other election he’s been in. He is entitled to be pro-life and state his opinion and reasoning the same as all pro-choice people are. The problem is in the way he said what he did when he got into God intending for rapes to occur.

Even some fundamentalist Christians have backed off of him because they point out that while they may also be pro-life, you cannot equate something as vile as rape with being a gift from God in any context. Saying that God intended rape to happen – well that is a whole different can of worms.

Personally, speaking as the child of a rape, I find it extremely difficult to say that anything that has to do with such a crime of violence is a gift from god. I cannot believe a just God that is all powerful would use rape as a tool to create life. I’ve asked several Christian friends if they believe God ever intends for people to be raped. Each said no. How can anyone say that violence begets love? God, one would think, can do just fine without propagating rape.

Nearly the entire Republican party is distancing them self from him – including Romeny and Ryan who have held the same exact stance on abortion recently until realizing it was political suicide to toe that hard of a line. A number of pro-lifers have put space between them self and him because dammit – you just can’t say what he did the way he did! For Mourdock, this is likely  the end of the race.

So, being fair as we stated we would be above, it is difficult to find a way to defend Mourdock. You can only say “maybe he meant . . .” so many times. Could he have misspoken as so many others before him have? Sure, it is a possibility, but that whole addition of involving rape being the will of God makes it hard to find any way to say he misspoke. Maybe nerves got the best of him and diarrhea of the mouth took over? Maybe. Maybe to a lot of things.

Here’s the thing though – we can’t go on maybe with Mourdock. This is a man that has spoken out previously that all abortion is wrong and didn’t soften his stance until this upcoming election. This is a man that wants to do away with Social Security and welfare and turn over all social services, and government money to run those services, to churches. This is a man that has spoken out against equality measures repeatedly on the basis that he feels they are contrary to his religious beliefs.

In fact, nearly every social issue he has voted on or spoken of boils down to the way he interprets what the Bible says is the way he should vote. For a man that relies on the Bible and his interpretation of the word of God for nearly all of his political decisions, we can only draw the conclusion he knew what he was saying and meant what he was saying. At any rate, Mourdock later released the following statement after the poo hit the fan:

“What I said was, in answering the question from my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.”
And what he said, one more time:

“. . .  I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

 

Does he mean that God is “gifitng” raped women with a child that will remind them of rape every single day? It’s really hard to figure out. Backtracking is just making it worse. He’s become a punchline on FB status updates and is already being memed to the Nth degree.

This is going to go down as yet another cautionary tale that you have to stop and think before you speak. If he did in fact stop and think and that is what he intended to say, have pity on him. Not enough to vote for him, but show the guy pity for having the view that violence and love are intertwined.

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  1. Anni Bricca says:

    Great piece, Amanda. thank you. This is a classic case of church and state. Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs.

  2. Amanda – in many ways I agree with you, except for one: Mourdock is biblically correct in his statements and opinions. The bible does claim that god knows and plans how all lives will begin. If christian dogma is correct that means not only is the pregnancy part of a divine plan, but so was the rape, the incest, the sexual abuse, the death of a mother during the pregnancy, or any of the other horrors that can come along with it.

    This is one of the reasons I take such issue with religious moderates: They act as if the bible doesn’t say the horrible things it actually does, they are kinder people than the dogma indicates they should be, and in the process they lend an undeserved air of respectability to the hateful, vile teachings of their supposedly-holy book.

    In point of fact, the entire thrust of your article is about discarding parts of the bible you disagree with (which is what the entire concept of “interpreting” the bible is about) and demonstrate that you figure out your ethics and morals not by using a bible to guide you, but by using your own ability to reason and think. The bible was not even necessary to begin with.

    So yes, men like Mourdock are nuts, but keep in mind that does not mean they aren’t acting exactly in accordance with scripture. It’s not really Mourdock that is the problem. It’s religion. Without that scripture he would have no reason to think of, say, the rape and impregnation of one of his daughters, followed by her death in childbirth, as a gift from a god figure.

    • AmandaFox says:

      Andrew – I am aware rape is in the Bible along with many horrible things and we can say that it is all God’s plan if we want to. There are some who choose to. If that is the way a person wants to interpret it as rape being divine in nature that is their choice to do so. Many would argue that isn’t the way it is to be interpreted and that it falls upon the vile crimes. It’s about perspective. My main bone of contention isn’t that he said what he did – he has every right to say it regardless of how poorly worded it was or offensive it was. My problem is politicians that keep trying to drag the Bible – or any holy tome – into how they formulate their political platforms that impact people of all faith systems, not just their own. This is not a nation run by the Hebrew Holiness code of the Old Testament or even the laws of the New Testament. So while he may be speaking in strict accordance to the what the Bible says, as you pointed out, it doesn’t matter. It has no place in government and shouldn’t even come up as a response to any question.

      I don’t look to discard parts of the Bible I disagree with, I discard it in it’s entirety. My belief is that if you need a book to tell you that certain things go against humanity, you’ve got problems. I agree with what you stated religious moderates to a tee. I am a fan of having faith or spiritual beliefs or a one on one relationship with a higher power, but the hierarchy that defends these views, such as what Mourdock stated, I do find disturbing. I find any system that tells us such things need to be viewed as a gift From God or whoever one prays to as a part of the divine plan to be disturbing. I find it disturbing we have these people that can’t check their personal beliefs at the door when they head in to vote or debate legislation and follow the utilitarian value of the best for the most in accordance with what it takes to represent the full spectrum of constituents they have rather than only those that think like them.

      It’s ingrained in the system and aside from voting what I feel is best and drawing attention to these types of things I’m at a loss for what to do. Say I’m crazy, but if we allow any religion, no matter how popular it is, to define our laws in one instance we’ll do it in two. Or three. We’ll continue to allow it to happen. We’d scream if anyone started using Sharia law as a reason for how they formulate their policy making decisions, this should be no different. Thanks for the insightful comment.

    • Andrew, we all know how silly it is when a football player thinks God made the field goal attempt go wide (or go through, depending on which team). The Bible does not suggest that God determines the path of a football any more than the Bible suggests that God determines a sexual assault. It’s just that while the former suggestion is silly, the later is downright scary, and I don’t understand how such a person is able to hold public office.

  3. Another excellent article, Amanda. I’m again impressed by the way that you manage to maintain balance and respect, yet get to the heart of the matter, especially on an emotive topic like this.

    Mourdock was clearly off the charts in his first statement “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen”. Now I guess we can try to do our best to give him benefit of the doubt, to try to get to the bottom of what he “intended to say”, or what he “meant to convey”. It’s astounding, though, when you consider that these guys are supposedly well rehearsed in what they are going to say, and all the more so coming after the controversy over statements by other such as Akin. We can all make the mistake of saying things in a way that we didn’t intend, but these guys are supposed to be so well prepared that it seriously makes you wonder if the first statement made is the one that comes from true inner beliefs, and the follow up statements are ways to ameliorate the fallout.

    Anyway, most of recognise that God doesn’t create life, at least not in that direct sense of individual conceptions – biology does. If sperm doesn’t meet egg, conception doesn’t take place. If sperm does meet egg, conception (usually) takes place. God isn’t in charge of every sexual act, or even every sperm meeting egg. The best that we might be able to say (for those who believe in God) is that somewhere behind it all God is the designer of life, and in that sense it is God who gives life.

    Perhaps the best position of all that we could take is to interpret Mourdock’s statement as meaning that all life is precious, and that we should appreciate all life, even life that derives from such terrible circumstances.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see much of this “best interpretation” in Mourdock’s later explanations.

    As you point out, it is of great concern that so many who run for political office base their political decisions and their efforts to implement policies driven by their personal religious beliefs rather than a recognition of a diverse society. As you so aptly put it, those who seek to represent us need to “check their personal beliefs at the door when they head in to vote or debate legislation and follow the utilitarian value of the best for the most in accordance with what it takes to represent the full spectrum of constituents they have rather than only those that think like them”.

    Thanks for showing us your perspective on this, and for amazing ability to be as gracious as possible while cutting through to the most important issues.

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