Mark Davis

As Richard Mourdock’s Indiana Senate fate hinges on how voters absorb his views on rape, all conservatives have an opportunity for a look in the mirror.

Just how pro-life do we want to be?

The Mourdock controversy is nothing like Todd Akin’s self-inflicted wound in Missouri, the result of an embrace of just plain bad medical information.

Mourdock is in hot water for accurately (if not particularly skillfully) articulating what God instructs about the life of the unborn.

If he is on politically shaky ground, it is because he had the courage to stand on the rock of moral truth.

That truth presents conservatives with a challenge, whether running for office or not.

What does it mean to be pro-life? Is it a universal view that every life created is a gift from God and a sacred thing to be protected by law? Or shall we begin a list of exceptions slightly less jarring to those around us?

I cannot imagine what it is like to be a victim of rape or incest. I have endless prayerful support for anyone carrying that burden. But that support does not include a permission slip to extinguish the resulting newly created life.

That is the required stance for anyone who is truly pro-life. It is a hard view to hold in a culture that has placed women’s interests above a baby’s right to be born.

The moral bankruptcy of the rape and incest exceptions has long permeated the ranks of otherwise socially conservative Republicans. The usual drill is to declare a wish to protect the unborn, then to rapidly add that those protections would be suspended if the new life is the product of an admittedly horrible event in the life of a woman.

The politics of this is simple. Many voters will recoil at the notion of laws removing the abortion option for rape and incest victims. Our natural empathy for them diverts our attention from the unborn, voiceless party in the proceedings, causing many to rush to reassure potential victims that we would never, as the saying goes, “force them to have the baby.”

If that seems harsh, compare it to the harshness of a deadly extraction from the womb. But fetuses don’t vote, so priorities remain weighted for political expediency.

There is a route for candidates, or individuals, who simply cannot remove the abortion option for rape and incest victims: it’s called being pro-choice.