U.S. Senate Candidate in Hot Water Over Comments on Rape

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It seems like déjà vu: a U.S. Senate candidate in a tight race makes a controversial statement about rape, setting off an awkward need for a response from the Republican presidential nominee.

This time it was Richard Mourdock in a Tuesday night debate against his opponent Democratic Representative Joe Donnely. He said that, "Life is a gift from God. Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Mary Beth Schneider is a political reporter at the Indianapolis Star.

"Everyone sort of did a double take — did he just say that?" Schneider says. "It was the only thing in the debate that people were talking about or commenting on immediately. And so it did indeed take over any reaction or any story about the debate their might have been." 

Indiana is a conservative state, so all three candidates — including a Libertarian — are running on pro-life platforms. And yet, it seems that Mourdock took things too far.  

"If he had just stopped, even after saying that he would not make an exception, except for the life of the mother," Schneider says. "Instead he went on to explain, and bring God into it. And a lot of people were taking his comments as saying that God somehow intended the life to happen through a rape. Now, Mourdock is saying that it's sick and twisted that anybody thinks that. But regardless, within about an hour or two, Mitt Romney was disavowing these comments." 

Schneider does not think that Mitt Romney is vulnerable in Indiana, but if Mourdock and Romney are linked outside of Indiana, this could effect the preferences of women voters — a very important constituency. 

As for the Senate race narrowing? Schneider says, "I don't know if there's even room for it to narrow. Everybody thinks that this is going to come down to turnout."


Mary Beth Schneider

Comments [12]

Regardless of the intent of Mr. Murdock, it is clear that he does give voice to his party agenda which is that the Federal government should not be burdened by involvement in individual rights EXCEPT for the rights of women. Whether by rape, incest or poverty, unwanted pregancies bring unwanted babies whose life struggle is to overcome the odds of poverty, neglect, prison and education. Mr. Murdock gives passionate voice to the idea that life begins at conception, but fails to provide voice to the responsiblilty of our community to provide a path for these babies by voting against a welfare safety net, taking funds away from Planned Parenthood,failing to connect the overwhelming increase in the population of prisons with the birth of unwanted babies. If this party wants to champion a zero tolerance for abortion, then I say, put your money where your vote and heart are; sign up to adopt 10 unwanted children a year and thus make them wanted. Pay for their educations, mentor them in life and work, pay for their health care, provide food and shelter for them until they are 26 years old. Vote 'Yes!' for libraries, increased teacher salaries, welfare reform, more education for young parents, and more funding for prisons. If you take on the responsibilties associated with your belief that meaningful life begins at conception, then I will be more able to understand your point of view on this important issue. Until then, I can only see your point of view as one way that you intend to return the women in the United States to the status of an under class under the banner of religeous zealotry.

Oct. 25 2012 04:50 PM

If all life is sacred....why are these same politicians in favor of the death penalty?

Why do they kill people to show that killing people is wrong?

Why do we engage in wars that ultimately kill many innocent civilians and children?


Oct. 25 2012 09:46 AM
Ed from Larchmont

What Mr. Mourdock said is exactly correct: it was not God's will that the rape take place, of course. But a child can not be conceived without the will of God, God creates the soul from nothing at the instant of conception. So the conception of a child is allowed by God, is part of God's will.

Let's leave the situation of rape alone for a time, and address the many, many children who are killed from ordinary relationships.

Oct. 25 2012 05:52 AM

It is very tempting to let lunatic rants from some commenters go unnoticed.

But the slander from "Nikos Retsos" retired professor from Chicago, should not be allowed to stand.

Prof. Retsos begins with the vile and incomprehensible presumption that Mr. Mourdock regarded rapes as "a gift from God." Mourdock didn't say that, he didn't mean that, and he didn't intend that.

Prof. Retsos then cites Warren Jeffs as a polygamist leader of the Mormon church. Which is a lie; Warren Jeffs has been thoroughly and comprehensively disowned and excommunicated by the Mormon church.

Together, those two ludicrous misapprehensions lead Prof. Retsos to the conclusion that, "If Murdock's God offers rapes as gifts, and if the Mormon's God endorses the sexual assault of teenagers as a spiritual way to the Promised Land, the voters should cast their votes on November 6, 2012, for someone whose God has better morals."

What I see here, in this and similar comments, is that there is an astonishing double standard as to hate-speech which would never be tolerated if aimed at women, or religious or racial minorities, or any of the favored political sects among public radio's administrators. But which is routinely tolerated when aimed at Republicans, or even a real live religious minority like the Mormon church, which happens to not be one of the favored minorities.

Oct. 24 2012 05:23 PM
Beth Katz from Bloomingdale, NJ

The only take away from yet another moronic statement regarding abortion from the Republicans is this: In this day and age a bunch of old white men should not be telling women what they can and can't do with their bodies. Period.

Oct. 24 2012 03:35 PM
Nikos Retsos from Chicago

Would Richard Mourdock consider the raping of his wife, and -if that results in a pregnancy- the baby born as a gift from God? Or is it rape a gift from God only when it happens to the sisters, wives, and daughters of others?

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, a sect whose polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who heads a breakaway Mormon sect, was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage girls he claimed as "spiritual" brides. (Reuters, August 9, 2011) Romney may be forced to distance himself from Mourdock now to avoid any public backlash to his campaign, but at heart he will remain his buddy!

That tells us something about Romney that we didn't know, and much more about the social values of hard-core republicans. If Murdock's God offers rapes as gifts, and if the Mormon's God endorses the sexual assault of teenagers as a spiritual way to the Promised Land, the voters should cast their votes on November 6, 2012, for someone whose God has better morals. Nikos Retsos, retired professor,

Oct. 24 2012 01:45 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

God might intend for Murdock to lose his chance to win a Senate seat

Oct. 24 2012 12:13 PM

The prioritizing of stories at The Takeaway is remarkably similar to that of Salon.com or MSNBC.

The Mourdock/Senate candidacy, and more particularly one stray comment within it, would not be so newsworthy, to most Americans. But since left-wingers feel that it can be used, not just to swing a close race for Senate in Indiana, but also be used to advnace a kind of "Romney War on Women" meme, well... we see what happens.

One might be able to argue that this is a story, like other political events are stories. One might be able to argue that there is nothing technically wrong with what was reported in the story.

But what is striking to me, is the emphasis that "Mourdock" as a hot late-campaign story is getting, at the most devoted left-wing advocacy sites. Day after day, week after week, the layout and decisionmaking on stories at The Takeaway looks very much like Salon, and MSNBC.

So a story like Richard Mourdock's Senate race in Indiana is pounced on. But Elizabeth Warren's Senate race in Massachusetts is ignored.

You see, it is not (simply) a matter of any gross errors in your reporting that betray The Takeaway's left-leaning bias. It is a matter of off-mic editorial judgments, story selections, production, and a host of other decisions. Liberal radio. Created by urban liberals, for urban liberals.

Oct. 24 2012 11:56 AM
Angel from Miami, FL

Why must the government get out of our personal lives yet dictate what its citizens can do with their bodies? Why must the government register its voters much more stringently than it does its gun-owners? Someone needs to get their platform straight.

Oct. 24 2012 11:02 AM

I am pro-choice. While I disagree with this candidate, he was clearly saying he considers any pregnancy/life a gift from God - NOT condoning rape. This is a case of desperate dems twisting words.

Oct. 24 2012 10:18 AM
Bethany from Bronx

When Murdock is raped and becomes pregnant (obviously not going to happen, lucky for him), then he can choose to believe that this is a gift from god. But if I am raped and become pregnant, he actually believes that I should also consider that it is a gift from HIS god, too?? And is the rape also HIS god's will?? Scary!!

Oct. 24 2012 09:41 AM

Any calls for President Obama to disavow his record of actual votes on late term abortion and will Democrat candidates be asked to distance themselves from him or is this self righteousness media attention all one way?

Is this really about abortion or about the Democratic Party and many in the media selectively using any hot button divisive issue to win an election?

Oct. 24 2012 09:34 AM

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