Richard Mourdock is taking a lot of heat for comments he made tonight about whether he believes abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. Mourdock’s a Republican running for Senate in Indiana. Here’s what he said during a debate with Democratic nominee Joe Donnelly:
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happened.”
As a general rule, Republicans running for office should probably stop talking about abortion, rape, or any other horrible topic that has its own creepy subreddit. If asked, start talking about the deficit or something. Seriously—it’s not worth it.
Mourdock’s position on abortion here is the natural extension of being against abortion. In fact, I’d argue his is the more intellectually tenable anti-abortion argument, if you accept the premise that life begins at conception (which isa big if). If a fetus is a human being entitled to all the protections and rights that entails, how do you justify abortion in cases of rape or incest? Again, from a pro-life perspective, allowing abortion in those instances still counts as ending a human life. Those pro-lifers who support exceptions aren’t really, truly, 100 percent pro-life, according to this line of thinking.
But as a political matter, most voters don’t think about abortion in those terms. Over the years politicians have had to cut deals and compromise on issues such as the rape or incest exception in order to make progress elsewhere, leaving us with a patchwork of positions that have to be defended politically but don’t hold water otherwise.
In effect, the abortion exception is a political creation, not an intellectual one. Which is where Mourdock gets into trouble. Sure, he might have the stronger moral case, but…this is politics, and a Senate campaign two weeks before election day isn’t exactly the ideal time or place to sort this out.