The Democrat Running Against the GOP's New "Rape Gaffe" Candidate Co-Sponsored the "Forcible Rape" Bill

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 23 2012 10:22 PM

The Democrat Running Against the GOP's New "Rape Gaffe" Candidate Co-Sponsored the "Forcible Rape" Bill

Congratulations, Richard Mourdock! You've gone viral.

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.
“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
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It's impossible to imagine Mourdock being asked the question had Todd Akin not slip-slided into the "legitimate rape" controversy, which allowed reporters to dig into this stuff. But Akin's comment posited that the female body had hormonal powers that "shut down" the conception process during stressful sex. That's junk science. Mourdock's comment is a perfectly coherent pro-life statement. If you think life starts at conception, well, then, it starts at conception.

Democrats are already on the attack, because (asked by the NRSC) Mitt Romney cut an ad on Mourdock's behalf. They've scored a point already: Romney has said he disagrees with Mourdock. (About what? It's intentionally murky.) But if we're going to treat this logically, we should note that Rep. Joe Donnelly, the conservative Democrat challenging Mourdock, co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011. That was the bill that, in initial drafts, created a distinction between "rape" and "forcible rape." You've got a Republican candidate who believes that life starts at conception and won't make allowances for abortion, and a Democrat who believes that life starts at conception and HEY LOOK OVER THERE.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.