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Meet 8 Romney-Backed Senate Candidates Who Would Force Victims to Have Their Rapists' Babies

Indiana's Richard Mourdock, who believes pregnancy caused by rape is a "gift from God," has plenty of company.
 
 
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Photo Credit: A.M. Stan

 

With all of the excitement attending the recent comments of Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, that a pregnancy conceived in rape is a "gift from God," much of the political class is shaking its collective head at the refusal of presidential candidate Mitt Romney to revoke his endorsement of Mourdock -- or at least to pull his endorsement ad for the former state treasurer from the Hoosier state airwaves.

What they’ve missed is the fact that, in today's Republican Party, Mourdock’s position is the new normal. Among the handful of Republican senatorial candidates who echo Mourdock's contention that even a rape-induced pregancy is sacred are several who, like Tom Smith in Pennsylvania, are polliing well against their Democratic opponents. 

Of the 33 Republicans running for U.S. Senate this cycle, all but three are anti-abortion, and among them, at least 10, including Mourdock and pariah Todd Akin, oppose any exceptions in cases of pregnancy by rape and incest. (It's even more troubling that the incest portion of this position has gotten little attention; should an 11-year-old girl really be required to bear her father a child?) After all, the position they've taken is simply that stated in the GOP platform, adopted at the Republican National Convention where Romney accepted his party's presidential nomination.

That very month Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, told WJHL-TV, a Virginia station: “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” Ponder that: rape as "a method of conception." Kind of like in-vitro, but without the consent.

Nearly all of the Republican presidential primary candidates take the same position: that a rape-induced pregnancy is the will of the Creator. They signed a pledge in Iowa that said as much, and Romney gratefully accepted the endorsements of pledge-signers Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. 

Against some stiff odds, the Republican Party is smelling winds of change that would render it control of the upper chamber this year, which would require a net gain of four seats. Romney doesn’t dare risk harming a single candidate, or his own chances of winning the votes of religious-righters, which he could if he withdrew his support from any of them..

Rape-Baby Senate Candidates

Here are eight additional GOP Senate candidates who think a woman or girl who is impregnated by rape or incest should be made to have her attacker's baby. We offer you some choice quotes from news reports and from the Republican Senate candidates themselves.

1. Josh Mandel, Ohio.

Mandel, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, will campaign in Ohio with Romney running-mate Paul Ryan this weekend. In a spot interview by Marc Kovac of Ohio Capital blog conducted the day after Mourdock made his infamous comments, Mandel confirmed his no-exceptions anti-abortion position. While Mandel declined to comment on the Mourdock statement, he did offer this:


KOVAC: But it’s true that you do not have an exception when it comes to abortion. You’re pro-life in all cases--

MANDEL: I think it’s important to protect the life of the mother, and I’m proud to be pro-life.

KOVAC: Even in the possibility of rape?

[MANDEL DOESN’T SPEAK, BUT NODS]


Very clever, don't you think, the way Mandel avoids being quoted by bobbing his head up and down on the rape question?

2. Pete Hoekstra, Michigan

The Detroit NewsaskedHoekstra, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, to respond to remarks by Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin that women’s bodies have the ability to “shut down” the process of conception during a “legitimate rape":

But Hoekstra spokesman Greg VanWoerkom said Hoekstra rejects Akin's remarks, describing them as being in "poor taste."

He then accused Stabenow of trying to raise money off the controversy. Hoekstra is against abortion in cases of rape and incest, but makes an exception for the life of the mother, VanWoerkom said.

Democrats note Hoekstra has sponsored several congressional "personhood" bills to ban abortions and outlaw some forms of birth control.

Romney endorsed Hoekstra's 2010 gubernatorial primary bid against Rick Snyder, who won both the primary and the election.

3. Deb Fischer, Nebraska

During a debate with Democratic opponent Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Republican senatorial candidate Deb Fischer articulated a position in line with Mourdock’s, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald:

"I am pro-life," Fischer declared. She said the only exception she approves of is the life of the mother. She did not include exceptions for incest or rape. Fischer distanced herself from Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's controversial comments about women's bodies being able to reject pregnancy as a result of rape.

Fischer has been endorsed by Republican former presidential candidate John McCain, the senator from Arizona, and addressed the Republican National Convention in Tampa this year.

4. Tom Smith, Pennsylvania

Challenging an anti-abortion Democrat in Sen. Bob Casey, Republican candidate Tom Smith opted to one-up his opponent with a bear-your-rapist’s-baby position, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Asked about his stance on abortion during a stop in Harrisburg, Smith said he opposed it in all circumstances, including rape and incest.

He then seemed to equate the trauma of a pregnancy brought about by rape with a woman's deciding to have a child outside marriage.

Smith backtracked under later questioning, saying that the situations were not exactly the same but that "a life is a life, and it needs to be protected."

5. Ted Cruz, Texas

The ever-crafty Ted Cruz, darling of the Tea Party and the religious right, has managed to avoid having a lot of pro-rape-baby statements floating around out there. However, the Texas Tribune reported Cruz’s position this way:

In their fierce battle for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, Dewhurst and Cruz, the former state solicitor general, both promoted their anti-abortion credentials, saying only when a mother’s life was in jeopardy should a pregnancy be terminated.

A contest for who can be the hardest on rape and incest victims! (Fought to a draw.)

Romney allied with Cruz to make the false claim that President Barack Obama sought to remove work requirements from welfare programs, and delivered a much-ballyhooed address to the Republican National Convention.

6. Michael Baumgartner, Washington

Challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell for Washington state’s seat is Michael Baumgartner, who takes up the bishops’ staff on the matter of rape, incest and abortion:

"I am still a Catholic. I still believe life begins at conception. That is consistent with my Catholic beliefs. And I believe we must protect life."

When challenged by reporter Josh Felt to clarify his views, especially in light of Todd Akin's remarks about how women were unlikely to become pregnant by a "legitimate rape," Baumgartner e-mailed Felt to suggest that the journalist "go f*ck yourself." Not sure how that sounded in the original Latin. 

The Romney campaign has apparently not weighed in on Baumgartner's comments.

7. John MacGovern, Vermont

In Vermont’s U.S. Senate contest, the choice is between Sen. Bernie Saunders, a socialist independent, and MacGovern, a Republican right-winger. Slate’s Will Saletan reports:

In Vermont, the state right-to-life committee certified Republican nominee John MacGovern as “fully pro-life.” When MacGovern was asked whether “a woman should be forced by the government to give birth to a rapist’s baby,” he answered: “I’ve always in my career and to this day been loyal to the principle of life. I’m pro-life. I’m profoundly pro-life. I’m pro-life to my core.”

8. John Raese, West Virginia

Incredibly, Republican candidate John Raese, in his race against anti-abortion Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, uses the fact that he has two daughters to justify his opposition to allowing abortions for girls and women who are impregnated through either rape or incest. From On the Issues:

I am pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and ends at natural death. I have two daughters, and every parent and grandparent who has seen an ultrasound or a sonogram of their child or grandchild already has an inherent problem with abortion. In the womb is where human life is at its most innocent and vulnerable stage, and I will proudly stand against the destruction of innocent human life unless the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

Raese has enjoyed the support of Romney endorser Ted Nugent, who infamously threatened violence against Obama -- remarks that Raese defended. Romney never disavowed the Nugent endorsement, which his campaign actively sought.

Adele M. Stan is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., who specializes in covering the intersection of religion and politics. She is RH Reality Check's senior Washington correspondent.

 
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