Richard Mourdock’s recent comments on rape may have sounded extreme and offensive. But lost in the flap over the remarks is this: By saying that rape victims should be forced to carry their babies to term because the pregnancy was something "God intended to happen," Mourdock was only signing on to what’s become the official GOP line on the issue.
The Republican Party itself, its vice presidential nominee, and most of its leading presidential contenders from the recent nomination fight all agree with Mourdock.
At its convention in Tampa this summer, the party approved a platform that would ban abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. That’s the same stance the party took in 2004 and 2008. The RNC has not yet addressed the Mourdock flap, and did not immediately respond to msnbc.com's request for comment.
As for Paul Ryan, he told an interviewer in August: “I've always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life.” Though he added that Mitt Romney, who does support exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, would set policy. And Ryan also joined with Todd Akin to co-sponsor a bill that would have narrowed the definition of rape.
Most of the GOP’s leading presidential candidates from last year also take the Mourdock line. At an event sponsored by an anti-abortion group last December, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum all confirmed that the only exception they’d make to a blanket abortion ban is in the case of a threat to the mother’s life. As Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast wrote at the time: “The event demonstrated that a commitment to banning all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and threats to a woman’s health, is now the normative position among the party’s presidential contenders.”
The party's last vice presidential nominee, too, is on board. Sarah Palin declared at a 2006 debate in Alaska that she supports an exception only for the life of the mother.
Nor is it unusual for Republicans to cite God’s role in support of that stance. Mick Huckabee, too, opposes exceptions for rape and incest, telling NBC's Meet the Press in 2007: "It’s because of my view that God is the creator and instigator of life.”
Indeed, in the conservative Christian circles from which many of these candidates take their cues on the issue, opposition to abortion in cases of rape is the accepted line. The website ChristianAnswers.net addresses the question head on, asking: “Is abortion justifiable in cases of rape or incest?” Its answer, citing several Christian conservative scholars: No.
“We must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest,” the site tells its readers.
Even Romney, the party's current standard-bearer, won't break with Mourdock. His campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying Romney disagrees with Mourdock, but still supports him.
(Photo: AP Photo/Michael Conroy - Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock pauses during a news in Indianapolis to explain the comment he made his Senate debate.)