October 24th, 2012
11:11 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama on Mourdock: Male politicians shouldn't make abortion decisions

(CNN) - The most recent controversial comment from a male politician on the subject of rape and abortion had President Barack Obama incredulous Wednesday during an appearance on Jay Leno's late-night talk show.

"I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas," Obama told Leno. "Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don't make too much sense to me, don't make any sense to me."

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Obama's comments were sparked by the assertion from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock that pregnancies occurring after a rape were intended by God.

The Republican candidate was explaining his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest when he made the remark, saying that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen."

Mourdock's comments came after a pair of similarly themed comments from fellow Republican candidates. In August, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, also running for Senate, ignited a firestorm when he said "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy.

And Rep. Joe Walsh, another tea party-backed Republican running for re-election in Illinois, questioned last week the necessity of allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk, saying such an exemption to an abortion ban was simply a tool by pro-choice activists.

Obama said the string of maligned abortion comments from Republicans was a sign they should remove themselves from the conversation.

"This is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's health care decisions," Obama said. "Women are capable of making these decisions in consultation with their partners, with their doctors, and for politicians to want to intrude in this stuff often times without any information is a huge problem."

The president went on the frame the issue politically, saying the next president would have the opportunity to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, which could potentially hear a challenge to Roe v. Wade. Mitt Romney, Obama's Republican challenger, has said that he would appoint justices to the court that would support overturning the 1973 decision affirming a woman's right to have an abortion.

"Roe vs. Wade is probably hanging in the balance," Obama said.

Obama also weighed in on Donald Trump's offer from earlier in the day, which stipulated the businessman and reality television star would offer $5 million to the charity of Obama's choice in exchange for the president releasing his college records and passport applications.

Asked what was going on between himself and Trump, Obama joked that it "all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya," a jab at Trump's constant questioning of his birthplace in Hawaii.

"We had constant run-ins on the soccer field, and he wasn't very good and resented it. I thought it would be over when we got to America," Obama joked, adding he has never met Trump.

Obama also weighed in on lighter topics, such as his World Series bet ("I didn't want to let Detroit go bankrupt. So in this particular series, I may be a little partial.") and his last time behind the wheel (in a Chevy Volt on the South Lawn).

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Filed under: 2012 • Abortion • President Obama
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. This is why we're voting for you Mr. President

    Exactly Mr. President. That is why we're are voting for you. You have integrity! I fear that with Romney, individuals like Mourdock, Akin and others will have free reign in directly developing policies that affect women's health. Romney cannot stop them, they are his base constituents. You should also have the title "Protector and Chief," as you have buffered US from these extremists, and we will protect you with our votes. Yes we can move Forward away from these misguided individuals.

    October 24, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  2. nintex

    How can any woman vote for anyone but President Obama? It is truly scary that these republican politicians might be re-elected and have a say in how much control we women have over our own bodies. Vote early – vote straight Dem ticket!

    October 24, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This makes me wonder why politicians are even talking about abortion. This isn't even a common medical proceedure. I think that those who could undergo that or those that have the medical understanding about (AKA doctors) should really be talking about this. We need more talk about education, economy and foreign policy rather than this. Those voters that only vote on this single subject are just really plain foolish and distort the desires and needs of the country.

    October 24, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  4. yem

    it is one extremest after the other. And this is coming from men who have no idea what rape means to a woman. Do they really want to tell women what to do? it is not going to work.

    October 24, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  5. freedom

    Doesn't he have anything better to do than talk about rape with Jay Leno?? So then what is he doing dictating who should provide contraception to women?? That's not the government's or his business. These are not Commander-in-Chief issues – we have terrorists to deal with!!! Cannot wait for election day !

    October 24, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  6. joe

    The president seems to be the only one to get it right and come out and say rape is rape and it is a crime. Mittens keeps fumbeling around and trying to make it look like he dosent back this guy but he does and he doesnt want to offend his base. Forward 2012

    October 24, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. RichieP

    Then people who don't own guns shouldn't have any say in gun control laws. And people who don't commit crimes shouldn't have any say in criminal law.

    October 24, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    The GOP/Tea Party brand in 2012 has been defined by Mourdock, Akin, Santorum, Bachmann, West, Limbaugh, Palin, and Eastwood. Not a pretty picture.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. Frank

    Nice comeback Obama.

    I have to say that this was the only correct statement i heard all day in politics. A few words make a difference. Thank you Obama. This is why you will win. Because women rule, and without them I would be single for an even longer time that I am now. Any females wanna date a 25 year old from Massachusetts, let me know 😉

    October 24, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  10. J.V.Hodgson

    I think its clear where most Republicans stand on this especially Ryan, Akin, and now Mourdoch.GOP has always been anti abortion and even Romney will defund planned parenthood, and has flip flopped from his original position and that of his churches beliefs.
    So pretty certain what kind of laws they will try to make and for sure Planned parenthood and PBS funding will no longer exist.
    There is not a single woman of voting age whom thier policies would not affect in some way even if its just freedom of choice on some things. For those women who choose not to use contraceptives on religious grounds, ever, I applaud you. But I dont want my wife to have to change something we have talked about and agreed as a family decision. Keep procreation and the rules and abortions of unwanted kids out of the law. Roe vs Wade is enough already!! my point is in the end one party rarely controls everything in US politics and I do firmly believe that a complete ban on abortion could never pass as a constitutional amendment.
    I think every politician needs to say just once what his/ her position is on pro choice or pro life and women can choose to let it influence thier vote or not.
    That said in this election the outrageous position of several republicans makes one lady I know well unable to support that Republican ticket. She also has many friend who say the same.

    October 24, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  11. Debbie

    I agree that abortion is a woman's issue between her, her doctor, and her faith. I also believe it is a man's decision to have a vasectomy and that is between him, his doctor, and his faith. I was a Republican for 35 years (now an Independent) and the GOP should have dumped the TEA when they had the chance. Since it is my rights and freedom about my life, liberty and pursuit of freedom I will vote Obama. Current GOP is out to reduce and eliminate womens rights.

    October 25, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  12. Deb Jena

    Republicans scare me. They have systematically blocked policies in congress that could have made a real difference to people's lives.
    Think about Ryan's position on abortion, it os so scary and insulting to all wonen. But please do not bother to think about Romney's stances. He does not have enough conviction to take a real stance.
    Obama is an honorable man who has tried to get health coverage for that 5 year old kid who would other wise die of leukemia / bone cancer , which no other politician has ever tried in the national stage. Yet for so called pro life republicans that kid's life is less important than the reckless profiteering of insurance companies.
    Obama you should be president for another four years to complete all the great work you have started.

    October 25, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  13. John s.

    Not on this specific topic in general, but on abortion as a whole...

    Is he insinuating that men shouldn't have a voice on women's issues at all? What about the men who voted for women's suffrage, should they not have had the option to vote for its passage? Or is it only the Liberal votes that should matter. What if in an unplanned pregnancy I want the child but she doesn't, whose call is it.

    His sound bite seems pretty ignorant to me!

    Should only minority politicians be able to vote on affirmative action?

    How about California or New York politicians only being allowed to vote on issues that deal with their state?

    Think before you go on talk shows, or how about Don't go on them At All!

    October 25, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. Rogue351

    How about Murdock endure a few rapes and see if he still has the same opinion about women's rights. Anyone making laws on this type of things should have some experience to back up the comments.

    October 25, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  15. Darrell

    I agree with you 100% Mr. President.

    October 25, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  16. ejhickey

    guess he is also referring to Democrat Joe Donnelly from indiana who is also opposed to abortion

    October 25, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  17. fernace

    I thank President Obama for his confidence in women, the Lily Ledbetter Act, contraception coverage & difficult decisions we have to make! I'm glad some1 in this election is willing to stand up for us! I loved his comment about Trump & lmao! Those who continue to choose party before common sense need a caffeine jolt! Romney has aligned himself w/Mourdock, yet his campaign put out a disclaimer that "these are not the opinions of the Governor & should not be construed as such"! Hmmm! Sorry, but I don't believe that, given that Romney wants to overturn Roe v. Wade & Ryan's "personhood" mandate that includes bans on contraceptives! My President cares about all Americans, men, women, children, rich, poor, all nationalities & religions! Romney cares about corporations & the 1% no matter how he spins it! He's not a flipflopper, but a spin doctor!! Obama Nov6!!

    October 25, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  18. Romnesia

    This is exactly why we should get rid of religious freaks. Republican far right will interfere with personal choices and freedom. Send Romney and his creeper buddy Ryan where they belong – in the Bible Belt. Vote Obama.

    October 25, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  19. Edom Meshesha

    That is the real Presdient of the united State. God Bless You and your family.

    October 25, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  20. Christine

    He is absolutely right!!! When males start to be born with a uterus, then they will have the right to tell us women what we can or cant do with our bodies.

    October 25, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  21. AmericanSam

    Love Barack Obama.

    October 25, 2012 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  22. catholicboyrichard

    Reblogged this on catholicboyrichard and commented:
    READ the article not the headlines, folks...that is not what the President said. Granted I am well aware he is pro-choice and I am not. But I think his statement was far more nuanced and less blatant than CNN portrays in the headlines here. As to Roe v Wade hanging in the balance, I am old enough to have heard that precise statement when Bush, Reagan, and Clinton were each elected, and possibly a few others too. I am not expecting it to change, no matter what the make-up of the Court. I still trust Obama.

    October 25, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  23. Thomas

    A Utah Tea Party activist and Republican fundraiser charged with more than two dozen felony counts of rape and sexual assault has died from an apparent suicide just four days after he was freed from jail on bail, his attorney said on Wednesday.

    October 25, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  24. Megg

    I am inclined to agree with Obama's stance. I would add; Not just male politicians, politicians in general should not be dictating our options/choices. The direct evidence of Politicians not being qualified to dictate personal health issues; Politicians making uneducated, misinformed and biased statements regarding rape categorization, true pro-CHOICE and personal health decisions across the board.

    October 25, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  25. julianbook

    I think what's behind all these weird republican comments is a desire to make rape legal.

    October 25, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
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