Antichoice Mask Slips

So what bad luck, eh? In a second close and crucial U.S. Senate race, the Republican nominee says something shocking about the law and ethics of abortion in cases of rape, and the Liberal Media looks likely to devour him over it. This time it’s Richard Mourdock of Indiana, whose primary victory over long-time Senator Richard Lugar wasn’t initially thought to endanger GOP control of this seat. Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM has the basics on what Mourdock did to himself in a televised debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly:

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock became the latest Republican to wander into eyebrow-raising territory when it came to the discussion of rape and abortion during a Senate debate Tuesday night.

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.”

In an indication that Mourdock’s grasp of theology isn’t much deeper than his understanding of how to disguise offensive views, he tried post-debate to make a distinction between the idea of God ordaining rape–that would be “sick, twisted,” he said–and the idea of God ordaining the impregnation of rape victims, who must then carry the pregnancy to term under state compulsion in Mourdock’s vision of a good society.

What’s interesting about all this isn’t what Mourdock believes–his position on abortion without exceptions for rape and incest is, after all, enshrined in the Republican National Platform and until a few weeks ago was the longstanding personal position of the GOP’s vice presidential nominee. As Irin Carmon of Salon noted immediately, Mourdock and Akin have let slip the mask of the antichoice movement, which in the past has been so good at distracting attention from its ultimate aims while shedding crocodile tears over late-term abortions or public funding or other ancillary issues.

What are you if you think a woman’s right to her own body should be entirely subordinate to the possibility of an hours-old fertilized egg, and thus want to ban emergency contraception, as Akin does? What are you if you essentially render a pregnant woman an an incubator, as Akin did when he described pregnancy as, “All you add is food and climate control, and some time, and the embryo becomes you or me”? What with all of the double-talk, I’ll be plain. You’re a misogynist.

For the most part, serious antichoicers try not to discuss in public their ironclad conviction that once sperm meets egg, a woman becomes nothing more than a procreation machine, with not only abortion but most forms of what the rest of us understand to be contraceptives off the table because someone somewhere thinks they might interfere with a fertilized ovum.

So Mourdock’s misfortune, like Akin’s, isn’t a matter of bad luck, much less of media persecution over “gotcha questions” or policy details, but instead an example of exposed deception over something very basic to a candidate’s claim to want to represent the citizenry, including the half that happens to be composed of women.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.