Republicans' Shocking Positions on Rape and Pregnancy Aren't Outliers -- They're Central to the GOP Agenda
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 the Republican Party of today, Mourdock’s position is the new normal.
Even Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, held a no-exceptions abortion stance -- at least until Romney, who would allow exceptions for rape and incest, elevated him to the national ticket. As reported by TPM:
“I’m very proud of my pro-life record,” Ryan told WJHL-TV in Virginia in an interview aired Thursday. “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”
Nearly all of the Republican presidential primary candidates take the same position: that a rape-induced pregnancy is the will of the Creator -- and they signed a pledge in Iowa that said as much. Of the 33 Republicans running for U.S. Senate this cycle, all but three are anti-abortion, and among them, at least nine oppose any exceptions in cases of pregnancy by rape and incest. (That the incest portion of this position has gotten little attention is even more troubling: Should an 11-year-old-girl really be required to bear her father a child?)
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.
The party’s cruel platform
If you still have any doubts, just look at the abortion plank in the Republican Party Platform, as reported by the Associated Press:
The party states that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."
Note the lack of any exceptions.
With the takeover of the G.O.P by the religious right, beginning in 1976, the party’s position on abortion has been on a slow and steady march toward deepening misogyny. Women are to be punished not just for choosing to have sex, but for being sexual beings at all -- for having vaginas, if you will.
The critical Christian right vote
Although evangelical Protestants, who now comprise 26 percent of the U.S. population, were not always so draconian in their views on abortion, the movement’s alliance with the Roman Catholic Church -- which prohibits any exception, even to save the life of the pregnant woman -- has led to the present-day, Dark Ages dictates of the religious right on matters of women’s sexuality and sexual vulnerability.
Among the most influential of the groups comprising the Christian right is the Family Research Council, led by Tony Perkins. Here’s an excerpt from a pamphlet (PDF), The ‘Hard Cases' of Abortion: A Pro-life Response, published by FRC:
If we constantly reaffirm the value of life and the state’s duty to protect all life from the moment of conception, then we will see the number of pro-life supporters rise in the years to come.
Only an uncompromising, no-exception approach, that refuses to support or veto for legal toleration of the intentional killing of innocent human beings, can offer the educational potential to restore reverence for the sanctity of life of every age and condition.