Pregnancy from rape debate: another headache for Romney
Mitt Romney forced to distance himself from Indiana candidate with strange ideas about God's intentions
NOT FOR the first time in this White House race, presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scrambling to distance himself from a fellow Republican with controversial views on rape. Indiana senate hopeful Richard Mourdock (above right), an anti-abortion campaigner, said yesterday that pregnancy from rape can be "something that God intended to happen".
Mourdock's comment follows Republican congressman Todd Akin's claim, earlier in the campaign, that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy. That prompted unsuccessful attempts on the part of the Republican leadership to squeeze him out of the Missouri senate race.
According to the Washington Post, the Romney camp moved quickly to establish its position on the latest controversy, with spokeswoman Andrea Saul saying, "Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views". Romney has said that, while he opposes abortion, he makes an exception in instances of rape and incest, and where the mother's life is at stake.
Mourdock's comment may yet offer an opportunity for President Obama to hammer Romney's women's rights record as Democrats point to an endorsement advertisement Romney shot for Mourdock earlier this week.
As the White House race goes down to the wire, the female vote is playing an increasingly significant role and could decide the victor in some marginal states.
Women's rights have been an uncomfortable issue generally for Romney, who recently made an unpopular comment about "binders full of women" as he addressed pay inequality during one of the televised debates.
Mourdock, who is backed by the conservative Tea Party movement, is in a close race against Democrat Joe Donnelly, who made the outraged suggestion that Mourdock meant that God intended for rape to happen. Mourdock issued a statement seeking to clarify his position: "God creates life, and that was my point… God does not want rape."
Todd Akin, who apologised for the comments he made in August, continues to lag behind his Democrat rival in the polls.