Joe Donnelly, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, describes himself as a pro-life candidate who respects the views of other pro-life candidates.
But comments made by Republican Richard Mourdock about rape, pregnancy and God’s will “went an extra step,” Donnelly said during a visit to Terre Haute on Friday.
Mourdock’s comments have drawn national attention — and criticism — and focused even more attention on a close race for the seat that has belonged to six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who lost in the primary to Mourdock.
“I’m a pro-life candidate, but this [Mourdock’s comment] is not about pro-life,” Donnelly said. “This is about his comments regarding rape and pregnancy and that God intended for that to happen. I respect all pro-life candidates. I respect all candidates’ views on these issues, but this went an extra step,” he said.
Mourdock’s comments, made during a debate Tuesday, “were hurtful to women, to survivors of rape and to their families. I had thought Mr. Mourdock, after some reflection, might say that as well. He apparently has chosen not to and I think the comments were really inappropriate and wrong … to those women who have been survivors of rape, to their families and to women in general,” Donnelly said.
Mourdock has received national criticism since, only two weeks before Election Day, he said “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended.” Mourdock the next day clarified his comment and added, “Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”
Mourdock says he was misunderstood and his comments twisted.
Donnelly was in Terre Haute to visit St. Ann Medical Clinic and Dental Services, which is working to become a Federally Qualified Health Center.
Before Donnelly went to the clinic, he met with reporters at the Richard Lugar Center for Rural Health.
He noted that the facility is named after Lugar, whom he described as “an American hero.” Lugar’s dedication to rural health and Hoosiers “is legendary,” Donnelly said.
The center does “an extraordinary job in working to provide good care for rural areas of our state,” he said.
In addressing the differences between himself and his opponent with regard to the Affordable Care Act, Donnelly said his approach would be to maintain it but fix the things that don’t work.
He said his opponent “wants to repeal it, but put the good parts back … Well then, why don’t we just fix, it so we never lose the good parts in the first place. That would make sense to me.”
Donnelly, currently a Congressional representative, talked about his efforts to “fix” various aspects of the health care law.
He said he co-sponsored a bill to eliminate large amounts of paperwork that businesses must deal with. He also has supported efforts to repeal a medical device tax in the law, yet find other ways to pay for the health care law.
He said he’s also advocated for the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the review of medical devices, which would help Indiana’s medical device industry. Those reviews must remain safe and detailed, he said.
Touting its benefits, Donnelly said the Affordable Care Act has benefited those with pre-existing conditions as well as young people ages 21-26 who can remain on their parents’ health insurance. For seniors, it closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole.”
He noted that in the last two years, health care costs “have risen at the lowest level in decades,” and efforts must continue to keep those costs under control.
While his opponent has suggested eliminating such federal departments as commerce and education, Donnelly said his approach would be to reduce spending in those departments, but they should not be eliminated.
Reduced funding will bring about a “natural downsizing,” he said. Donnelly said he believes government must become less expensive and more responsive.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.