Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock ignited a firestorm Tuesday night, when he said that “life is a gift from God,” and that pregnancy resulting from rape is “something that God intended to happen.” The media immediately jumped to attention, forcing Mitt Romney’s campaign to disavow the comments, saying that they “do not reflect” Romney’s views. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte canceled her trip to campaign with Mourdock today, and Mourdock himself held a press conference this morning to try to quell the firestorm.
But Mourdock has never kept his pro-life position a secret, so what he said wasn’t all that surprising and actually pretty consistent with the beliefs of most pro-life conservatives. Here’s the full quote:
“This is that issue that every candidate for federal, or even state, office faces, and I too stand for life. I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view and I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have [for abortion] is in that case [where] the life of the mother [is threatened]. I struggled with it for a long time, but I came to realise that life is a 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.”
Anyone is free to disagree with Mourdock’s position — and to make him explain and defend it — but the media’s surprise and outrage, disguised under the mask of “journalistic objectivity,” is disingenuous and irresponsible.
The whole faux controversy underscores the general cowardice with which both parties and the media approach the issue of abortion. The focus on exemptions for “rape and incest” allows Democrats and Republicans to avoid sounding “extreme,” while also pandering to pro-life constituents.
On the left, Democrats are happy to focus on “exemptions,” and avoid standing up for the broader principle that a woman should get to choose what she wants to do with her body. Republicans, on the other hand, proudly claim they are pro-life, but are happy to concede exemptions for rape and incest — a position that should prompt questions about why they oppose abortions at all.
The real questions when we talk about abortion are a) when life begins and b) whether the government should restrict a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the question of why a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy is, or should be, irrelevant.
*This post was updated at 2:36 p.m.
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