Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Mourdock's rape remark and extremism

By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • GOP's Mourdock says "God intends" any pregnancies that come from rape
  • John Avlon: This is like Akin's assertion that women don't get pregnant from rape
  • Mourdock urges confrontation, wants to justify extremist positions on social issues
  • Avlon: Electing Mourdock means hyper-partisan fighting, absolutism, religion in policy

Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." He is a regular contributor to "Erin Burnett OutFront" and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7 ET weeknights.

(CNN) -- Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock believes that rapes resulting in pregnancy are "something that God intends to happen."

Do you?

It's a relevant question as we enter the last two weeks of this election, because Mourdock's comments are not isolated.

John P. Avlon
John P. Avlon
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The statement comes from the same rigid ideology behind conservative Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's musings in August, when he said women's bodies have the ability to "shut down" pregnancies that result from what he called "legitimate rape."

Mourdock and Akin were both trying to explain their determination to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, a position consistent with the Republican Party platform, which calls for a constitutional ban on abortion.

Mitt Romney and some other leading Republicans repudiated Akin's comment. But as I pointed out in a CNN column at the time, the problem seemed to lie with the politics and optics rather than underlying policy.

Republicans are desperately trying to close the gender gap with women, and one way to do it is to insist that this election is only about economic issues. But many conservative candidates for Senate harbor deep-seated social conservative views, an absolute opposition to abortion among them. It's a position that vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan has long held.

Mourdock: People 'twisted' rape comments

Most Americans believe that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." And a stunning Gallup Poll taken earlier this month in 12 swing states found that 39% of women who are registered voters said that abortion was the most important issue for women in this election. With the Supreme Court likely one vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade -- a goal that Mitt Romney has reaffirmed on the campaign trail -- this issue is real and relevant.

That's why Mourdock's centrist Democrat Senate opponent Joe Donnelly said, "The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in does not intend for rape to happen — ever. ... What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape."

The case against electing a right-wing ideologue like Richard Mourdock to the Senate goes deeper than social issues. When Mourdock took on the senior Senate statesman Dick Lugar in a Republican primary with tea party support, he specifically attacked Lugar's record of bipartisan problem-solving, saying: "The time for collegiality is past ... it's time for confrontation."

That's the kind of change a Tea-vaneglist candidate like Mourdock represents for the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party and the nation -- more hyper-partisan fighting, more absolutism and more religion influencing public policy. There's nothing libertarian about government forcing a woman to carry her rapist's baby to term.

Let's be clear -- Mourdock's attempt to square his religious beliefs with his public policy beliefs is what led to the tortured statement. But what Mourdock said was not a mistake or a misstatement. It's what he truly believes.

Combined with his commitment to be an obstructionist and absolutist in the Senate, instead of a bipartisan problem-solver, it presents a clear choice with national implications because he's the only Senate candidate running for whom Mitt Romney took the time to cut a TV ad.

Indiana voters will get to decide if Mourdock's comments are consistent with their common sense approach to politics and problem-solving. Voters across the nation will need to decide whether they want to empower his extreme vision of politics in Washington over the next four years.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
updated 2:28 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
updated 2:41 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
updated 7:37 AM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Newt Gingrich warns that President Obama's border plan spends too much and doesn't do what is needed
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Errol Lewis says if it really wants to woo black voters away from the Democrats, the GOP better get behind its black candidates
updated 5:07 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
updated 8:08 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died so blacks would no longer be viewed as inferior but rather enjoy the same inherent rights given to whites in America.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Alex Castellanos says recent low approval ratings spell further trouble for the President
updated 11:49 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Paul Begala says Boehner's plan to sue Obama may be a stunt for the tea party, or he may be hoping the Supreme Court's right wing will advance the GOP agenda that he could not
updated 12:59 PM EDT, Sun July 6, 2014
The rapture is a bizarre teaching in fundamentalist circles, made up by a 19th-century theologian, says Jay Parini. It may have no biblical validity, but is a really entertaining plot device in new HBO series
updated 1:49 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Ruben Navarrette: President Obama needs to send U.S. marshals to protect relocating immigrant kids.
updated 3:03 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
updated 6:37 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Danny Cevallos says charging the dad in the hot car death case with felony murder, predicated on child neglect, was a smart strategic move.
updated 9:26 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Van Jones says our nation is sitting on a goldmine of untapped talent. The tech companies need jobs, young Latinos and blacks need jobs -- so how about a training pipeline?
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
A drug that holds hope in the battle against hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill. We can't solve a public health crisis when drug makers charge such exorbitant prices, Karen Ignagni says.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Julian Zelizer says our political environment is filled with investigations or accusations of another scandal; all have their roots in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon
updated 2:14 PM EDT, Sun July 6, 2014
Sally Kohn says Boehner's lawsuit threat is nonsense that wastes taxpayer money, distracts from GOP's failure to pass laws to help Americans
updated 11:26 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Speaker John Boehner says President Obama has circumvented Congress with his executive actions and plans on filing suit against the President this month
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT