South Carolina has a unique brand of politics. But less than 2 weeks from an election, others are making the headlines with an explosive mix of faith, politics and abortion.
Our politicians haven’t come under the white-hot media glare after heartfelt but unpopular beliefs bubble to the surface in unexpected ways. The closest we’ve come was an ill-advised response to a racist email by Rep. Alan Clemmons during a nationally important discussion about voter ID laws.
Those vying for office or making high-profile endorsements in the swing state that is North Carolina haven’t been as lucky.
Even the revered Rev. Billy Graham is embroiled in political controversy. His association has long held that Mormonism is a cult.
After Mitt Romney, the Mormon GOP standard bearer, visited Graham, the group’s website was scrubbed of that belief and Graham endorsed Romney.
Some evangelical Christians in the Carolinas have responded with horror that the saintly Graham could be perceived to have put politics above faith.
Comments from pro-life GOP candidates have been seen as equally disturbing.
Several weeks ago it was Todd Akin, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri, making headlines with a comment about “legitimate rape.”
This week it is Richard Mourdock, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana.
Akin’s mess was entirely his doing because he championed a debunked theory that a woman’s body can detect a so-called legitimate rape to make sure a pregnancy does not occur.
Mourdock is only partially responsible the controversy; part of it is the fault of a media that doesn’t seem well versed in a basic Christian tenet, that all things “work for the good of those who love the Lord.”
That’s why Mourdock said that a pregnancy resulting from rape is part of God’s plan.
He was suggesting that God has a way of pulling the good even out of evil.
It is one of the ways people of faith explain why an all-loving God allows bad things to happen.
I suspect Mourdock left room for misunderstanding, though, because he, and others who share his views, have an abortion blind spot.
Even if they have not intended to, they’ve all but erased the woman from the equation.
“Pro-life” has too often become a rigid refrain to demand that nothing be done to interfere with the natural process that begins at conception and ends at birth. It provides little or no space for the wants, needs and rights of the woman, as though her life is only important as a vessel for the growing fetus.
There is little evidence Mourdock has grappled with the real-world consequences of dictating to a woman what she must do with her body.
It’s easy to say that abortion should be outlawed.
Does that mean women who seek one should be arrested?
And when? The moment they let their thoughts be known? Not until they show up at the clinic?
Should they be held throughout the 40-week gestation?
And if she is held in such a way and is forced to give birth – a forced C-section or induced? – will she be stripped of her parental rights?
Why should there be a rape exception if abortion is murder? Will a woman’s claim that she has been raped be enough to trigger the exception?
The gestation won’t suspend itself during the months it would take to prove rape at trial
Thousands of women annually endure rape, become pregnant and have the baby any way – by choice.
The problem with Mourdock’s way of thinking isn’t that he believes good can result from bad. It is that while he and his party preach freedom and individual liberty and the sanctity of life, they make it seem as though all those things apply to the fetus – but not the woman.
Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at 626-0357, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.com at @TSN_IssacBailey.