BELFAST, August 24, 2012, ( – Pro-life organizations around the world are taking advantage of the opportunity opened this week by comments from U.S. Congressman Todd Akin on abortion for rape victims. In Northern Ireland another politician has sparked a mini-furor for saying that abortion “shouldn’t be the first option” for women who find themselves pregnant after rape, Jim Wells, a Member of the Legislative Assembly told BBC Radio.

Mr. Wells called pregnancy from rape a “tragic and difficult situation,” but said that abortion “shouldn’t be the first option.”

“Should he or she [the unborn child] be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No,” he said.


“In Northern Ireland, there are hundreds of married couples who would love to adopt children – a child, a baby – and who could give support in that situation,” he said.

The province’s leading pro-life campaign group, Precious Life, has expressed its support for Wells’ comment, saying, “The killing of an unborn child – even if conceived through rape – is wrong. Abortion cannot ‘undo’ a rape – it only kills the child.”

The “horrific” reality of rape, the organization said, “rightly evokes feelings of revulsion,” but that emotional response can “lead to illogical and unfounded judgments with regard to pregnancy as a result of rape.”

“In these cases, both the woman and her child are equally innocent victims of the rapist, and we have a moral obligation to do everything that we can to help both of them, without taking an innocent life,” Precious Life noted. “Rape victims need long term care and compassion not a ‘quick-fix’ solution of abortion.”

A spokesman for Wells’ party, the Democratic Unionist Party, appeared to distance the party from the MLA’s comments. A spokesman said today that, although the law does not allow abortion except in those rare cases where the mother’s life is threatened, pregnancy due to rape “may be included within this.”

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The Belfast Telegraph opined that his comments demonstrated an “alarming lack of tact,” and fellow MLA Anna Lo accused Wells of “living in the dark ages,” saying she was “sickened by the labeling that people who are opposed to abortion put on women who have had an abortion.”

Precious Life’s director, Bernadette Smyth, countered that it was Anna Lo and other pro-abortion campaigners “who are living in the dark ages and need to be updated on the latest medical science.” Three-dimensional imaging technology, she said, has eradicated any hope that the abortion movement had of denying the humanity of the unborn child.

Anna Lo has described the unborn child in a radio interview as a “little pea.”

“This is an insult to the thousands of women who are grieving over miscarriage,” said Smyth. “They are grieving for their child they lost – not a pea.”

Smyth said on Friday that the so-called “rape exception” is a red herring meant to distract from the main issue and hitch abortion-on-demand to public sympathy for rape victims.

“Pregnancies resulting from rape are extremely rare: less than one per cent of all pregnancies,” she said. “To justify thousands of abortions every year on the basis of the relatively few pregnancies resulting from rape would be ludicrous.”

Northern Ireland is governed buy the UK’s Abortion Act of 1967 that specifically exempts the province from legalizing abortion, due largely to the huge pro-life public sentiment. Moreover, Northern Irish law specifically recognizes the humanity of the unborn child.

Smyth pointed out that the act makes no reference to rape victims, still less to creating an exception for pregnancies due to rape.

“For those women who do find themselves in the tragic situation of pregnancy through rape, abortion is not a compassionate response,” Smyth continued. She cited research that shows abortions after rape “increase the physical and emotional turmoil of the woman rather than relieve it.”

Smyth cited a major clinical study of pregnant rape victims by Dr. Sandra Mahkorn in 1979 that revealed that 75 to 85 percent of the women chose against abortion.

“This evidence alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is best or even wanted for rape victims,” Smyth said.

“When a pregnancy is the result of rape we must be careful who gets the blame. Rape is never the fault of the child. The rapist is guilty and should be punished, not the innocent child,” Smyth added.