Rape has become a hot topic this election season, with conservative candidates attempting to clarify whether they support a rape victim's right to abortion — or even her right to live if a pregnancy threatens her health. This is because the Republican Party's platform states its opposition to abortion in all cases, whether because of rape, incest, or even to save the pregnant woman's life or health (Jill Filipovic at the UK's Guardian has an excellent summary of various rape-related commentary from right-wing Republicans).
The latest controversy erupted in Indiana, when Republican Richard Mourdock opined that "… life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen."
Eric J. Scheidler, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action League, applauded Mourdock, stating in a press release, "Senate candidate Richard Mourdock is to be commended for upholding the humanity of children conceived in rape in yesterday's candidates' debate. God's words to the prophet Jeremiah belong to these children, too, as they do to all of us: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." Of course God knows and loves these children, innocently conceived in violence."
The Pro-Life Action League is a Christian group that believes that "sidewalk counseling [outside of abortion clinics] is the most important pro-life work God has given us to do" and is known for its use of street signs displaying gruesome images of aborted fetuses. Critics of the signs say that they are upsetting to children.
To suggest that in recognizing the humanity of these children, Mourdock is somehow condoning rape is not only offensive to decency and common sense, it betrays the pro-choice movement's growing desperation, as more and more Americans begin to recognize the humanity of unborn children and the injustice of killing them, whatever the circumstances of their conception.
Are those criticizing Mourdock trying to suggest that babies conceived in rape are not loved by God? That he does not intend for them to receive His gift of life? Are they ready to point their fingers at all those conceived in rape -- people like Angelina Jolie's lovely adopted daughter Zahara -- and say, 'God didn't intend for you to have life?'
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to distance himself from Mourdock's remarks, but continues to endorse him. This has led to a new advertisement from the Democratic National Committee:
Although he said that he will follow Romney's stance on abortion that allows for exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, has a record of opposing abortion in all circumstances.