Richard Mourdock, a GOP Senate candidate from Indiana, has made waves in his race by saying he opposes abortion for cases of rape because the pregnancy “is something that God intended to happen.”
The remark, which bears a striking similarity to Senate candidate Todd Akin, who said that legitimate rape victims cannot become pregnant, was met with criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Richard Mourdock’s comment came during a debate with Rep. Joe Donnelly. A questioner asked the two and Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning for their views on abortion. While all three said they were against abortion, Mourdock went further:
“The only exception I have 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. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party endorsed candidate, had unseated longtime Senator Richard Lugar in a Republican primary in May.
As he battled Donnelly for the seat, he has taken jabs about the Democrat’s stance on abortion. Mourdock claimed that by supporting the Affordable Care Act, Donnelly lacked strength on the issue.
In the debate, Donnelly took the strong tone on abortion that Mourdock accused him of lacking.
“I believe in pro-life,” Donnelly said. “I believe that life begins at conception. The only exceptions I believe in are for rape, incest and the life a mother.”
Richard Mourdock later tried to clarify his comments, claiming that others had twisted his words, CBS News noted. He said that God does not intend sexual assaults, clarifying:
“What I said was, in answering the question form my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.”
Donnelly also took the opportunity to follow up Mourdock’s words at the debate, releasing a statement that read:
“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.”
Others joined Donnelly in criticizing Richard Mourdock. Shripal Shah, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the statement gives voters a glimpse of how the candidate sees the world
“Richard Mourdock’s disturbing comment about rape is a window into Mourdock’s extreme view of the world, ” Shah said. “Indiana can’t afford to send a self-proclaimed ‘zealot’ and Tea Partier like Richard Mourdock to the Senate.”
Mourdock’s stance is not unusual for the Republican Party, CBS News noted. The candidate’s remarks are similar to those made by then-presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a strong pro-life conservative.
“I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you,” Santorum told CNN‘s Piers Morgan in January. “We have to make the best of a bad situation.”
The GOP also approved a platform at this year’s convention in Tampa that called for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Nowhere in the language did it make an exception for cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother, CBS News noted.
Mitt Romney, who had endorsed Mourdock, released a statement condemning the comments. Romney also cut an advertisement that began running in Indiana this week, The Huffington Post noted.
Mitt Romney’s own stance differs from Richard Mourdock, allowing for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
“Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.