The only exception I have to Richard Mourdock’s recent statements regarding abortion is…well…(almost) everything.
There are so many emotions and feelings coursing through my body at his remarks that I don’t even know where to begin.
I am equally repulsed, sickened, disheartened, angered, and flabbergasted that in the 21stcentury we still have people using language like “legitimate rape.”
No matter how many times this man might try to say his words were taken out of context, one cannot ignore the illogicality in his statement.
“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
I don’t even know where to begin, so let’s begin at the beginning of his statement.
“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother.”
Mr. Mourdock, are you referring to the quantity of days in that life, or to the quality of that life?
When I was sixteen years old, I made a foolish mistake.
I dressed up in a floral-printed sundress—it had the sweetest, tailored bolero jacket—and entered a bar with a friend.
Innocent, young, and as naïve as a newborn, I thought the college boy I’d been chatting with most of the night was interested in getting to know me better when he asked me to go for a stroll on the downtown street in front of the pub, which was directly across from the university.
And he was. But the only part of my body he wanted to get to know was my vagina.
“Oh, you’re a virgin,” he said as he zipped up his pants as quickly as he’d unzipped them. “I told myself I’d never do that again.”
He disappeared into the night as quickly as he’d come into me.
I was left with blood trails crusting on my legs and dark red splotches seeping into the fibers of my favorite white dress.
Fortunately, his sperm never connected with my eggs.
But what I can tell you is that I spent years—decades—blaming myself for that rape.
All those horrible lies victims tell themselves ate at my soul.
I shouldn’t have been there.
I asked for it because I was in a dress and in a bar and I returned his flirtations.
I’m so stupid.
God is punishing me for being stupid/playful/naïve/enjoying the attention of a boy.
The next fifteen-plus years were filled with fear, self-loathing, and numerous thoughts of suicide.
Those issues would have only been compounded had I—a vibrant, straight A student who worked at the local supermarket and was the most sought-after babysitter in the neighborhood—been impregnated by this rapist.
That chaos was the life of the raped teenager and would have been the life of the mother had I conceived amongst the bushes beneath the streetlamp on Main Street, USA.
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God.
I do concur with you that life is a gift in the sense that it is something to be treasured, an existence for which we can give great thanks.
“I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Mr. Mourdock, I cannot begin to tell you the fear that coursed through me when my picture-perfect, peaceful labor and delivery room setting became a flourish of Code Blue Responders.
I cannot begin to tell you the pain that seized every cell in my body when the nurse responded to my question, “Where’s my baby?” with this: “I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.”
I cannot begin to tell you the confusion I faced, me, this mother without a child.
I cannot begin to tell you the shame I bore in not being able to protect my baby from harm.
I cannot begin to convey to you the anguish I felt when I imagined him suffering, suffocating when he inhaled his meconium (baby’s first stool), as he made his way through the birth canal.
And I cannot begin to share with you the agony I felt over expressions like, “It was God’s will and God’s plan.” Or phrases like these, “When God closes one door, he opens another.” “God plucked a beautiful rose for heaven.”
But the one that caused me the greatest conflict and infuriated me the most, Mr. Mourdock, was this paradox: “God is not a cruel God; He is a loving God.”
By its very definition, cruel means to knowingly inflict pain on another.
God would know how much pain I would endure upon the death of this child, one I had thought about since I was a young girl.
God would know how utterly terrifying and brutal it is to asphyxiate.
A kind God wouldn’t allow a mother to suffer the death of one child, let alone endorse on her life the loss of two more to miscarriage.
A kind God wouldn’t decide that one of His children would burn alive in a house fire, he wouldn’t sanction affairs, and he certainly wouldn’t push little old ladies down flights of stairs to their deaths.
The Spiritual Facet of my grief was the most difficult to resolve because of these things that organized religion tells us.
I’ll never forget the moment I found that last piece of my grief puzzle.
I had gone on to successfully bear two children and my third nestled deep in my womb when I finally learned the truth that Warren and my best friend were, indeed, having an affair.
Within hours I lay broken on the floor of my kitchen, slumped against my washer.
Every academic, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual piece of me had been shredded. The last thread I’d held on to—the spiritual connection and belief in people—had vaporized.
In that heap, though, remained a thread of moxie, a strand of hope that told me to pick up the phone.
The minister on the other end of the line couldn’t help me because he was moving; the cargo van literally pulling out of the drive as we spoke.
But he gave me the name and number of a woman who, in one short hour, became my lifeline.
My sorrows spewed from my lips as I sat across from this lady who was crippled with MS, her slight figure frail in a seat that seemed to swallow her.
“How could God allow a person to experience so much tragedy?” I wailed.
God neither promotes nor enacts injustice and suffering.
“God is always with us,” this savior said to me. “…divine intervention is rare… He was in the room with you when you encountered abuse—He was crying out in pain with you and screaming for it to stop…”
In that very moment, I could feel the weight of enormous arms wrapping me in a warm, compassionate embrace.
And I found peace.
Mr. Mourdock, I do not think that when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.
I do not think that God chooses who will and won’t conceive, that he handpicks drug-addicted/violent/absentee girls to become mothers and leaves other capable/caring/compassionate women barren.
My loving God was shouting at the top of his lungs for every perpetrator to stop, he was rocking the battered and frightened females (male victims, too), and he held the hand of each as she walked through life, trying to make sense of it all.
I respect your right to honor your God as He fits into your life, Mr. Mourdock, to live by the code of your own religion.
I humbly ask that you show some consideration for those of us who believe God’s Will and God’s Plan are grounded in a different sort of grace.