Am I really the only liberal pro-choice atheist who respects and even applauds Richard Mourdock’s heartfelt statement about his belief that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape?
“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.”
No, I don’t agree with Mr. Mourdock (the Republican candidate for U. S. Senate in Indiana), but his statement is not just honest and well-considered — it’s apparently also the honest, heartfelt belief of 20% to 30% of all Americans.
If you believe in God (I don’t), and if you believe that only God can create life, and if you believe that life begins at conception, then you must agree with Mr. Mourdock that God has chosen to create the life that results from the evil act of rape or incest. You might believe that God will accept , respect or forgive a woman’s decision to end that pregnancy — or, like Mr. Mourdock, you might not.
But your beliefs are your beliefs, and no matter how much I disagree with your beliefs, and no matter how strongly I believe that your beliefs should not be imposed as the law of our land, I respect your beliefs, and your right to speak about them.
Yes, Mr. Mourdock’s statement came after what seemed to be a never-ending sequence of absurdly ignorant, insensitive, and offensive statements about rape and abortion by other Republican candidates. If he’d asked for advice from political consultants, they would have urged him not to mention the word rape, certainly not in the final moments of a critical debate when running for the U.S. Senate. They might even have shared Steven Colbert’s advice: if you’re a Republican candidate thinking about using the word “rape” in a sentence, you should instead take a sharp pencil and jam it into your eye.
But apart from the idea that government should interfere with a woman’s decisions about her own health, I find nothing offensive about Mr. Mourdock’s words or sentiment. I would never vote for him, but I wish we lived in a world where candidates could speak honestly about their deeply-held, carefully-considered beliefs without being ridiculed.
And I wish I weren’t so hypocritical to think this for two weeks, but only write this on Election Day.