"And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it's something that God intended to happen." Richard Mourdock, defeated GOP candidate for U.S. Senate
Last month, the Indiana Republican became the latest in a growing list of conservatives to trip over women's bodies. He later said he didn't mean it the way it sounded that rape is something God approves of.
Rather, his point was: "life is sacred."
His party agrees. This year, the GOP adopted, again, a platform under which no woman could ever legally have an abortion. Not if she was raped. Not if it was by her own father. Not if the abortion were needed to save her life. Why? Because life is sacred.
I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that center on the sanctity of life. As a species, we've fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don't believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and grinding poverty show us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we've made only the feeblest of efforts to really treat life as sacred. Especially women's lives.
Reports came out this week that a pregnant woman in Ireland died on Oct. 28 after she was denied an abortion that might have saved her life. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she showed up at a hospital in Galway complaining of back pain. Doctors determined that she was having a miscarriage and chose to let it run its course.
After spending a full day in "severe pain" and understanding that the baby could not be saved, Halappanavar asked for the pregnancy to be terminated. The hospital refused, reportedly telling the couple that "this is a Catholic country" and there was nothing it could do as long a heartbeat could be detected.
"Savita said to her (doctor) that she is not Catholic, she is Hindu, and why impose the law on her?" her husband later said.
It was another two and half days before the heartbeat stopped and the fetus was removed, but by then Halappanavar had developed septicemia and E. coli infections. She spent another four days in intensive care and died a week after entering the hospital.
Abortion is completely illegal in Ireland, but can technically be allowed if, "there is a real and substantial risk to the life (as distinct from the health) of the mother." In other words, it's not enough for the mother to be in pain or at risk of complications. They have to reasonably believe that she will die without it. Now an investigation is underway as to whether the hospital acted properly.
Arguments over these kinds of abortion exemptions were part of a major debate the helped swing several key elections in the U.S. this year.
This "no exceptions" abortion law (which is what the GOP want for this country) prevented this woman from getting the proper procedure, which her husband knows would have save her life.
Mourdock and other conservative anti-abortionists (I refuse to use the term "pro-life" I am pro-life and pro-choice) keep touting the sacredness of life, but they have a narrow definition thereof. To them, life is only sacred until the umbilical cord is cut.
If they truly hold life sacred, they will stop balancing budgets that deny funding to programs that feed hungry children. They won't look the other way when kids do not have access to health care. They won't tolerate easy gun availability that turns playgrounds into war zones.
They won't let children "fall through the cracks" at child welfare agencies.
And they won't ignore that women's lives are sacred too.
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com