Frankly, I’m a little surprised by all the outcry against Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.
Here’s what he said:
“I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have, for to have an abortion, is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize 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 happen.”
If it weren’t for the statement about divine intent, he might almost be able to squeak by. I disagree with everything in this remark, but it’s sadly mainstream as Extremely Pro-Life statements go. So why all the indignation just now?
Voters in Indiana aren’t choosing between pro-life and pro-choice candidates. Both of the major Senate candidates are pro-life, one with perhaps more exceptions than the other.
As Dave Weigel of Slate noted, the Democrat in the race, Rep. Joe Donnelly, joined Missouri Rep. Todd Akin in sponsoring a House bill last year to create a separate category of “forcible rape.” Donnelly’s spokeswoman said in August that he was unaware of the language at the time and urged its removal afterward.
But listen to Donnelly now: “I think rape is a heinous and violent crime in every instance. The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen -- ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”
Look, this isn’t just the war on women. This is the war on grammar. It requires unconscionable grammatical contortions to think that Mourdock is saying rape, not just pregnancy from rape, “is something that God intended to happen.”
I am fine objecting to what Mourdock said. We don’t need to go beyond that.
There are few less productive exercises than watching Senate candidates argue about Who Can Best Divine What God Wants When Rape Is Concerned or murmur into microphones about the sanctity of life and how best to respect rape survivors.
You know how best to respect people? Let them make their own choices, guided by their own beliefs -- which may or may not match yours.
Excerpted from Alexandra Petri’s blog at washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost