Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock became the latest Republican to wander into eyebrow-raising territory when it came to the discussion of rape and abortion during a Senate debate Tuesday night.
Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.
“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Here’s video of the line:
(Full context of the remark is below.)
Democrats seized on the remarks following the debate. Perhaps anticipating the impact they might have, Mourdock tried to backpedal in the minutes following the debate.
“Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that anyone could suggest that. That’s a sick, twisted - no, that’s not even close to what I said,” he told reporters, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.
But he reaffirmed his view that conception is determined by a higher power.
“It is a fundamental part of my faith that God gives us life. God determines when life begins,” Mourdock said. “I believe in an almighty God who makes those calls. … There are some things in life that are above my pay grade.”
Many anti-abortion advocates believe it’s wrong to make a distinction between pregnancies. Mourdock expressed a more extraordinary view: that a higher power planned for a woman who is raped to conceive if she is impregnated by her rapist. Mourdock added that he does support abortion rights for women whose pregnancies endanger their lives.
Mourdock won the nomination for Senate by defeating veteran Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. Mourdock’s victory came with the help of tea party conservatives, who were frustrated with what they said was Lugar’s moderate stances on fiscal and other issues.
His view on conception is in keeping with the conservative wing of the GOP as well as the Republican Party platform, which makes no mention of abortion rights exceptions at all. It’s a stance that has risen to prominence this cycle, and seemingly each time Republicans who believe abortion should be illegal in the case of rape or incest explain their views, it draws negative headlines. In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin’s famous “legitimate rape” line came as he was trying to explain why he opposes abortion rights for rape victims. Reverberations from that hit the presidential race after Paul Ryan — who shares in the belief that rape victims shouldn’t be allowed access to abortion — was forced to distance himself from Akin and promise to follow Mitt Romney’s more moderate stance if elected vice president.
Mourdock’s words could echo into the presidential race as well. Romney endorsed Mourdock and is currently starring in an ad on Mourdock’s behalf running statewide in Indiana:
After the debate, Donnelly said Mourdock’s words on stage were disturbing.
“The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen—ever,” Donnelly said in a written statement. “What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”
Here’s the whole abortion Q and A from the debate:
Eric Kleefeld contributed.
This post has been updated.