By now you’ve heard about Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock’s statement about abortion in the case of rape, made while debating his opponent for the position of Indiana’s junior U.S. senator.
Asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Mourdock said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that 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.”
This received, rightfully, a great deal of scorn, upon which Mourdock tried to make things better.
After the debate, Mourdock tried to clarify his remarks, saying it was “sick” and “bizarre” that his comments would be interpreted as though he were saying God intended rape. “What I said is God creates life. As I person of faith, I believe that,” Mourdock is quoted as saying in The Indianapolis Star. “Does God want people raped? Of course not.”
While that raises theological problems (if an omnipotent God doesn’t want rape, why is there rape?), it doesn’t make anything the least bit better. That he thinks it does is telling.
Rape is an invasion. When you are raped, your privacy is violated. Your bodily intgegrity is violated. Your body is entered without your permission and held captive to another’s will. And yes, I’m talking about all kinds of rape, not just the legitimate, forcible, rape kind of rape.
Suggesting God would want this for anyone is abhorrent. Suggesting that God wouldn’t want that–but would want something with many commonalities with rape to happen right after someone has been raped and to continue for months is equally abhorrent.
Yes, an unwanted pregnancy has many commonalities with rape. When you’re pregnant, you lose your privacy and your bodily intergrity. Medical intervention, even of the preventive sort, is always intrusive. Coming after a rape, gynocological intervention takes on a particularly invasive character, especially when it’s unwanted.
Whether you consider an embryo or fetus to be human or not, it cannot be nurtured outside the body. In the case of rape, that means that one more person (using the most pro-life wording) is invading the victim’s body. In this case, however, the captivity goes on for most of a year.
An unwanted pregnancy is not rape, but it is like a rape in many ways. When a pregnancy follows a rape, it is an extension of the betrayal and the trauma of the rape itself. Any individual victim may decide for their own reasons that they want to carry that pregnancy to term, but none of them should ever be pressured to do so, much less forced.
Telling the world that your god wants rape babies may or may not be telling the world your god wants rape. People tie themselves into knots to believe stranger things. Telling the world you’re insisting a rape victim should be retraumatized because your god wants the baby is appalling.
More than that, it is telling the world that your god has no use for the person wrapped around that uterus except as a mobile incubator. “Oh,” said your god, “I don’t care about that rape thing. I don’t care if you’re scared or hurt or have PTSD or would rather die than have to deal with reminders of your rape for months and months. I want a baby.”
Even if that god existed, even if he weren’t just a handy excuse to believe what you already believe without taking responsibility for it, following such a god would be a grossly immoral act. That anyone seeking public office would stand up and say all this as though it were a good thing tells us how far we have to go as a country. We can start by telling Mourdock he doesn’t have the moral authority to make any decisions for the rest of us.