About two years ago, after Republicans suffered through a rough 2012 election cycle, Kellyanne Conway, a top GOP pollster, told her party that it really needs to stop talking about rape. Several statewide Republicans lost in 2012 in large part because of comments about rape in the context of abortion rights, and the pollster said the party needed to learn lessons from the defeats. Conway said at the time that the GOP should consider rape a “four-letter word.”
Perhaps the party needs a reminder?
A Republican state lawmaker said Thursday that women who become pregnant from sexual assault should not be exempt from an anti-abortion measure, because childbirth resulting from rape is “beautiful.”“Obviously rape is awful,” West Virginia Del. Brian Kurcaba (R) said during a committee hearing on a new abortion restriction, according to David Gutman, a Charleston Gazette reporter. “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.”
The comments were similar to Richard Mourdock’s remarks in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race in 2012. “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said en route to losing.
A day prior, lawmakers in Utah were weighing whether to clarify the state’s rape laws when legislators considered the legality of sex with an unconscious partner. State Rep. Brian Greene (R) shared his concerns.
“If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious,” he argued, “a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically.” That, he continued “makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.”
Maybe it’s time for another coaching session on rhetoric.
It’s worth emphasizing that Greene later said he considers “sexual activity with an unconscious person” to be “abhorrent,” but he’s concerned about a legal standard that considers the act “rape in every instance.”
As for West Virginia’s Kurcaba, he responded to the controversy by saying, “I apologize to anyone who took my comments about the sanctity of human life to mean anything other than that all children are precious regardless of circumstances. It is unfortunate that only portions of my statement were publicized resulting in misrepresentation.”
Candidates gearing up for next year’s election cycle should take note: start working on your talking points now.