What About Exceptions For Rape?


In light of the Texas Heartbeat Bill banning abortions after 6 weeks, abortion advocates are demanding, "What About Exceptions For Rape?" It's the first of many expected arguments against the ban, meant to make the case that people who support a "rape exception" in abortion laws are the truly caring ones, while those who don't are heartless. But just a few probing questions by thoughtful people make that assertion fall apart.


For instance, if what is destroyed through the act of abortion is a completely unique and irreplaceable human person of infinite worth then does the violent circumstances of that person's conception even matter?


There are many people throughout history whose preborn life-circumstances were horrific or violent or seemingly hopeless, but who nevertheless went on to be extraordinary human beings who contributed a great deal. Think of Ester Waters, an unequaled gospel singer whose black mother was raped by a white man. Or John Wesley the Methodist minister whose impoverished mother already had 13 children. Or Beethoven - his father had syphilis; his conception was preceded by two other children, one born blind the other born deaf. The conception and preborn life circumstances of each of these great human beings is commonly argued now to be a reason to abort. Imagine the social cost if their mothers had had easy access to abortion!


Another challenge is if the justification behind the "rape exception" built into abortion laws is a desire to avoid compounding the trauma of rape, is there actual proof that carrying the child to term actually extends the trauma? Sure, on the one hand, it seems like a given. Of course a woman who has been raped and would be traumatized by seeing her rapist in that child's face! [To be honest, this is the reason many men support abortion after rape -- and is is a result of masculine protective instincts in fullbloom. So let me detour for one second to say, Thank You, Sir -- your honorable intention deserves to be acknowledged.]


On the other hand, if the rationale is unsupported or even contraindicated shouldn't that have some bearing on the need for the "rape exception"? There are studies comparing women who abort after rape to women who were raped but carried to term. As it happens, there is NO evidence that abortion-after-rape reduces the devastation of rape, or that terminating the pregnancy lessens the amount of time it takes for the victim to return to a reasonably normal life.


But beyond the fallacy that it helps, the evidence suggests abortion-after-rape can actually cause more harm. Sexual assault victims have experienced the feeling of utter helplessness and powerlessness. Her rapist treated her as a thing without feelings or dignity, that existed to be used and discarded. A woman who aborted knows the preborn person inside her was just as helpless and powerless. She knows she is a victim who has victimized someone else.


[Author's note: Lest you think I'm being unfair or overly harsh, I am speaking both my from experience as a rape survivor and a post-abortive woman, and drawing on my communication with women who are like me. To be honest, the “abortion is the best solution” approach reinforces her/our belief that sexual assault is something for which we, the victims, ought to be ashamed.]


Next, consider this, what if carrying-after-rape FOSTERS, even speeds up, healing from the trauma? Clearly pregnancy fills most women with awe and wonder. She feels the power to bring forth life and typically spends gestation imagining the unlimited potential of the person growing inside her. By choosing life, she becomes the curator and protector for this new being. A vastly different self-image! No wonder women who carry (whether they parent or place for adoption) return to a more normal life much sooner than women who abort after rape. In fact, 7 out of 10 of the women who become pregnant through rape, choose to carry. They know abortion won't undo the rape.


But ultimately, isn't the most important challenge to consider in making a "rape exception" the way it will inevitably lead to eugenics? Every intellectual or social justice argument in favor of abortion-after-rape rests on the premise that there are SOME human persons who have infinite worth and others which have no value at all. So, doesn't that immediately beg the question, WHO DECIDES which humans are bio-waste and which ones have infinite worth?


None of this is meant to make the case that a rape victim should be forced to parent! But as a society aren't we capable of a better response to her plight? One that doesn't result in her treating the new life as a thing without feelings or dignity, that existed to be used and discarded. Is it compassionate to insist that "healthcare" for rape victims requires her to inflict pain and death on the helpless? Is it evolved to imply that a child of rape is worth less as a person because of the circumstances of their birth?


On the other hand, can you imagine a society whose immediate (even automatic) response to a pregnant rape victim is an extra measure of support, a commitment to fill in all the gaps where a father would be, and a celebration of mom and child's victories in spite of beginning in such darkness? Indeed the world where abortion is both undesirable and unacceptable.

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