News & Politics

Romney's Senate Candidate: Pregnancy by Rape is God's Will

Tea Partiers cheered when Richard Mourdock defeated Sen. Richard Lugar in the GOP primary, and Romney ran to endorse. Now, two weeks before election day, the War on Women is front and center.

Just as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney thought he had that pesky War on Women problem under control, a new front was opened Tuesday night in a debate between Indiana’s candidates for U.S. Senate. Richard Mourdock, explaining why his anti-abortion position allowed no exception for rape victims, contended that sometimes such a pregnancy is just what God ordered up.

“I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said, according to a report in the Evansville Courier Press. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” (Video at the end of this article.)

And right now the airwaves
of the Hoosier state are saturated with political ads, including one featuring Romney speaking directly to the camera with an endorsement of Mourdock (video at the end of this article). The Republican Party, meanwhile, has been nuturing hopes to reclaim the Senate, needing a net gain of four seats in order to do so. Mourdock's race against Rep. Joe Donnelly has looked like a close one, according to the limited polling available in Indiana, and it's possible that Mourdock's comments just cost him the contest.

Romney’s Mourdock problem is compounded by the G.O.P.’s Todd Akin problem. It was Akin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, who claimed that women rarely were impregnated by what he called “legitimate rape.” But unlike Mourdock, Akin has never enjoyed the support of the institutional Republican Party, allowing Romney some distance from him.

Mourdock's stance on rape and pregnancy essentially amount to his belief that women who have been raped should be forced to bear the rapist's chlld, a position that inconveniently calls to mind the legislation co-sponsored by Romney running-mate Paul Ryan that would revoke Medicaid funding for abortions for some rape victims, unless they could prove they had been "forcibly" raped. 

Both presidential campaigns reacted quickly to the comments made by Mourdock tonight, with the Romney campaign seeking to distance its candidate from the former Indiana state treasurer, and the Obama campaign pouncing.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote that Mourdock’s comments “do not reflect” Romney’s views.

The Indiana paper, meanwhile, reported that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod wrote: “Mitt’s man Mourdock apes Akin in Indiana debate, reflecting a GOP that is way out of (the) mainstream.”

And the Democratic National Committee quickly released a statement from Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz demanding that Romney yank his endorsement ad for Mourdock.

Like Akin in Missouri, Mourdock won his spot on the ticket as a Tea Party-backed insurgent candidate. It was Mourdock who ended the decades-long career of Sen. Richard Lugar via a primary challenge that was backed by the astroturf group FreedomWorks that is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Just last week, Mourdock raised eyebrows when he made a campaign stop at Fairhaven Baptist Church, known for its belief that children should be "paddled" for punishment, and the subject of allegations of child abuse by former members.

Here's Mourdock speaking Tuesday night about rape and abortion during an Indiana senatorial debate.

Here's Romney's endorsement ad for Mourdock.

Adele M. Stan is a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.

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