Knowing the Mind of God
In the midst of the campaign, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape and incest. He responded negatively with this explanation: “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something the God intended to happen.” Apparently, Richard Mourdock knows the mind of God.
In the midst of the campaign, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape and incest.
He responded negatively with this explanation: “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” Apparently, Richard Mourdock knows the mind of God. As a theologian, I find this notion interesting and I would like to pursue this conversation with Mourdock. What exactly is the basis of this knowledge? How does he know that the fact of a pregnancy due to rape is God’s will?
Maybe these candidates should get their assertions straight. Mourdock’s statement is the flip side of Senate candidate Todd Aiken’s “in legitimate rape, women don’t get pregnant” position. If rape victims don’t get pregnant, then Mourdock doesn’t have to worry.
Then here in Washington State, Congressional candidate John Koster weighed in on the subject, also opposing abortion in cases of incest and rape: “…incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare. But the rape thing [sic], you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption and doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But, on the rape thing [sic], how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and take the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” (Seattle Times, Nov. 1, 2012)
Let’s begin with the rarity of incest. The lifetime numbers for children under eighteen who are sexually abused is 1 in 3 females and 1 in 8 males.
Nearly half of the sexual abuse of children is incest (see below). So that means 1 in 6 girl children and 1 in 16 boy children are victims of incest. Hardly rare.
And then the “rape thing”? Pretty important to the over 620,000 victims of rape in the U.S. last year.
But the real issue in all of the sentiments expressed by these male politicians is this: there is a glaring absence in their assertions --- the woman who has been sexually assaulted and finds herself pregnant by her assailant. She does not appear in their discussions; her voice is not heard.
Her bodily integrity has been violated once by a sexual assault. To deny her a choice in dealing with the consequences violates her once again. A rape survivor is struggling to regain control over her life, her space, her body, her self. The law should not exacerbate her struggle but should support her choice which she can make in consultation with her family, her doctor, and her faith leader.
Mostly I am just weary of these ignorant men pontificating about women’s experiences and then presuming to decide for women what their options are. Is there no end to these misinformed and callous attempts to control women’s bodies?
Elections matter. The take-away this time is that no longer can male politicians get away with ignoring and belittling the things that really matter to women. Some of these voices (Mourdock, Aiken, Koster, etc.) will no longer have a platform. What a relief!
Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
*Research indicates that 46% of children who are raped are victims of family members (Langan, Patrick and Caroline Harlow (1994). Child Rape Victims, 1992. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.)