On Tuesday evening, the Senate candidates for my state of Indiana met for a debate. Republican Richard Mourdock, who beat out the respected Senator Richard Lugar in a fierce primary battle, squared off against Democrat Joe Donnelly. In the course of that debate, Mourdock was asked about his views on abortion and if there is ever a reason to terminate a pregnancy. And like a long string of Republicans before him during this election season, Mourdock expressed views that were thoughtless, ignorant, and just plain offensive. When referring to abortion in cases of rape, Mourdock said, "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it something that God intended to happen."
A few days ago, I wrote a letter to Joe Walsh about his ridiculous statement that abortion to save the life of the mother is never medically necessary. I spoke about my heart-wrenching experience losing a very wanted pregnancy because it threatened my life and was not viable. But Walsh didn't really have to listen to my letter. I don't live in his district. I don't even live in his state.
Richard Mourdock is another matter. If that man wins this Senate race, he will represent me and my family. And while I am extremely hesitant to open up about a very sensitive time in my past, on a website visited by my friends and family, I feel like Richard Mourdock should understand just how wrong his statement was. I feel like this politician should have to answer to one of his possible constituents about such a disgusting comment. So once again, I'll share an open letter to a Republican politician who doesn't seem to understand a whole lot about rape, abortion, or women in general.
Dear Mr. Mourdock,
I could open this letter by pretending that I was considering voting for you in two weeks. That would be a lie. While I would've considered crossing the party line for a statesman like Richard Lugar, you do not have his thoughtfulness, his honesty, or his dedication to serving his constituency instead of just your personal agenda. However, whether you were ever going to earn my vote or not, you are still hoping represent the entire state of Indiana. You aren't just running to serve the Republicans or the conservatives. You want to represent all of us.
By all of us, that includes thousands of sexual assault survivors. I am one of them.
I am a woman whose choice was taken from her in the most brutal and soul-crushing way. And I do not know what God you believe in, but I refuse to accept that this horror was something God "intended to happen." No matter what the outcome of my rape was, whether I got pregnant or not, I would say that there was a clear absence of faith or humanity in what I went through. Stating that it worked out the way God intended implies that he had a hand in the very worst moment of my life.
Rape and whatever comes from it have absolutely nothing to do with divinity. Rape is an act of man. It is a despicable act perpetrated by criminals who desire power, who do not care for the life of human beings around them. When a woman gets raped, it is because someone decided that she shouldn't be able to make her choices for herself. It's because she wasn't respected as a person. She was merely used for her body parts.
Your statement wasn't just wrong, it was offensive to every woman who has gone through such a horrific experience. And Mr. Mourdock, there are more of us than you think. The problem is that we often don't speak up about our attacks. We're afraid of hearing people like you marginalize our experiences, or pretend that you understand what we've been through, only to then tell us how we should feel or handle the consequences of our assaults.
I understand that immediately after the debate, you released a statement saying, "God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."
I am not being absurd or sick by taking offense to a truly reprehensible statement. Why was it just so disgusting? Why do I have every right to be so angry? Because in that debate, you acknowledged that you aren't concerned about God's plan for me as a human being, as a rape survivor. You had nothing to say about my life, or how it would never be the same. You completely ignored that when there is pregnancy after a rape, it isn't just the fetus's possible life that is up for debate. There is a woman involved. There is a victim involved. And you ignored those women in your statement, because it's uncomfortable to think about their situation, about their thoughts or feelings. You stated that there was a higher purpose, a more moral cause, than allowing victims to handle their recovery on their own terms.
Your statement wasn't just a misunderstanding. It wasn't a gaffe. It demonstrated that when it comes to women, you think that the contents of our uteri are much more worthy of your concern than the females who possess those reproductive organs. It showed that you're willing to ignore the suffering of a rape victim, and that you'll feel like God protects you in that choice.
Mr. Mourdock, I sincerely hope that my fellow citizens will join me in voting for your opponent and making sure that you don't end up in a position to make laws that control the women of Indiana and their reproductive choices. I also hope that you spend a lot of time thinking about the women, the survivors, the ones whose lives will never be the same, and you come to understand that their needs and their rights should not come second to a pregnancy that was forced on them against their will.