Hang onto your lacy unmentionables, Kathy, cause I’m fixing to defend Richard Mourdock. As most people have probably heard by now, the Indiana Tea Party Senate candidate explained during a debate Tuesday that the only time he believes abortion is appropriate is to save the life of the mother, and to underscore this position, he tearfully added that “even in the terrible situation of rape [life] is something God intended to happen.” (I picture Debbie Wassermann Schultz hearing this news and sobbing incoherently with joy, like Emma Thompson at the end of Sense and Sensibility.) After the debate, Mr. Mourdock tried to say that he didn’t mean God wants women to be raped, but a whole lot of folks are refusing to believe him.
Except me. The current rector of All Saints Episcopal is a very thoughtful man named Jim Flowers, and if I understand his sermons correctly, God does not, like a petulant Pat Robertson, send tornadoes or tsunamis to punish us when we are naughty. But (here’s the important part) when these things do happen, and we come together as a community and help one another, now THAT is where God is present. This is an appealing idea and has the double benefit of both reassuring us that God did not deliberately slaughter 250 people in Alabama with His awesome tornado power while also encouraging us to give to the tornado relief fund.
And it seems to me that is is all poor misunderstood Mourdock was trying to say with the rape baby thing. In the middle of this heinous, violent crime, sometimes we find a precious innocent baby. And that is where God is present.
Because Mr. Mourdock is one of those who believes that life begins at conception. And thus his rape baby vision leaves out the nine long anguished months of growing the baby, the risk to the woman’s bodily health let alone mental health, and the far more intricate complication that nine months from now, this is not going to be just some generic Baby to be handed off to one of those omnipresent loving childless couples, but a combination of her genetic material and the rapist’s. Do you want really to give up your son or daughter? She’s yours! Look, I think she has your hands! But then she is also his. Can you ever forget that?
Has Mr. Mourdock given a moment’s thought to all this? He claims to have struggled, so I guess he has. When you have convinced yourself that life begins at conception, and that ending any pregnancy is murder, you cannot make exceptions for the circumstances of the conception. It’s a shame the woman was raped, but now she has to suck it up and deal. I appreciate his consistency, but I do not see the presence of God here.