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The ultimate guide to why abortion is wrong, and how to argue in favor of life

Part 5: ‘We need abortion in cases of rape or incest’

By Randy Alcorn

As tragic as these cases are, they do not erase the humanity of the unborn child.

What About Abortion in the Case of Rape or Incest?

Pro-choice advocates often focus on rape because of its well-deserved sympathy factor. Their frequent references to this heartbreaking situation leave the false impression that pregnancy due to rape is common, rather than rare. Yet the Guttmacher Institute conducted a write-in survey of 1,160 women in 2004 and found 1.5 percent of abortions were reported as due to rape or incest.(i) Another of their studies cited one percent.[ii] Other studies have shown that pregnancies due to rape are much rarer, as few as one in a thousand cases.[iii]

Rape is so horrible that when a pregnancy results, we easily transfer our horror to the wrong object. Yet we must not impose the ugliness of rape or incest upon either the innocent woman or the innocent child (who is not a cancer to be removed, but a living human being). Certainly, let’s punish the rapist. But let’s not punish the wrong person by inflicting upon the innocent child our rage against the rapist.

Punish the Guilty, Not the Innocent

Rape is never the fault of the child. Why should Person A be killed because Person B raped Person A’s mother? If your father committed a crime, should you go to jail for it? If you found out today that your biological father had raped your mother, would you feel you no longer had a right to live?

A Parallel of Violence

There’s a close parallel between the violent attack on an innocent woman that happens in a rape and the violent attack on an innocent child that happens in an abortion. Both are done at the expense of an innocent person. The violence of abortion is no solution to the violence of rape.

Imposing capital punishment on the innocent child of a sex offender does nothing bad to the rapist and nothing good for the woman. Creating a second victim doesn’t undo the damage to the first.

One feminist group says, “Some women have reported suffering from the trauma of abortion long after the rape trauma has faded.”[iv] It is hard to imagine a worse therapy for a woman who has been raped than to add the guilt and turmoil of having her child killed.

A Child Is a Child

A child conceived by rape is as precious as a child conceived by love, because a child is a child. The point is not how he was conceived but that he was conceived. What if you found that your spouse or adopted child or close friend was fathered by a rapist? Would it change your view of their worth? Would you love them any less? If not, why should we view the innocent unborn child any differently?

Children Conceived in Incest

Incest is a horrible crime. Offenders should be punished, and victims should be carefully protected from further abuse. The abuser—not the girl or her child—is the problem. Intervention, protection, and ongoing personal help for the girl—not the death of an innocent child—is the solution.

Despite popular beliefs, fetal deformity is rare in such cases, and even so, a handicapped child still deserves to live. All that is true of children conceived in rape is true of those conceived in incest.

After I shared these thoughts in a lecture, a woman came up to me in tears. I’ll never forget what she said:

Thank you. I’ve never heard anyone say that a child conceived by rape deserved to live. My mother was raped when she was twelve. She gave birth to me and gave me up for adoption to a wonderful family. I’ll probably never meet her, but every day I thank God for her and her parents. If they hadn’t let me live, I wouldn’t be here to have my own husband and children and my own life.

Her story echoes that of others who found out they were conceived by rape or incest.[v]

Women often think that a child conceived by such a vile act as rape or incest will be a constant reminder of their pain. On the contrary, the innocence of the child often has a healing effect. The woman can also give another family an incredible gift by allowing them to adopt her child.  

What About Abortion When a Woman’s Life Is at Risk?

While he was U. S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop stated that in his thirty-eight years as a pediatric surgeon, he was never aware of a single situation in which an unborn child’s life had to be taken in order to save the life of the mother.

Dr. John Crown, an oncologist who has treated pregnant cancer patients, told his Twitter followers he’s never had a case where abortion was necessary to save the mother’s life.[vi] He writes,

What I say to most patients is, “I know this sounds like the worst thing that could happen but there is a high chance you are going to get two happy outcomes here: you will be cured and the baby will be born normal. That is the most likely outcome. . . .”[vii]

A Woman’s Life, or Health?

The mother’s life and health are usually two distinct considerations. A pregnant woman with toxemia will have adverse health reactions and considerable incon­venience. Though difficult, this isn’t normally a threat to her life, since her life isn’t in jeopardy in the first place.

Sometimes pregnancy itself—because of routine medical appointments and tests—can actually serve as a catalyst for discovering an otherwise undetected illness. But serious illnesses that may rarely occur during a pregnancy can still be treated to protect the mother and her baby. Breast cancer is identified in about one out of every three thousand pregnancies and is usually entirely treatable.[viii]

Consistently Pro-Life

When two lives are threatened and only one can be saved, doctors must always save that life. More often than not, that life is the mother’s. There are rare cases in later stages of pregnancy when the mother can’t be saved, but the baby can. Again, one life saved is better than two lives lost.

Friends of ours were faced with a heartbreaking situation in which removing the mother’s life-threatening and rapidly spreading cancer would result in the unborn child’s death. The pregnancy was still so early there wasn’t time for the child to become viable before both would die. But it’s critical to understand that this was in no sense an abortion. The death of the child was a tragic and unintended secondary effect of lifesaving surgery. This was a consistently pro-life act, since to be pro-life doesn’t mean it’s just about babies. It also means being pro-life about women, who are just as valuable.

Abortion to save the mother’s life was legal before convenience abortion was legalized and would continue to be if abortion were made illegal again. There’s no danger whatsoever that women whose lives are in jeopardy would be unable to get treatment, even if such treatment tragically results in the death of an unborn child.

 

Lawrence B. Finer, et. Al., Guttmacher Institute, “Reasons U.S. women Have Abortions; Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Vol. 37, No 3, Sept 2005, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf.

[ii] Jane Orient, MD, “The Truth of Forcible Rape, or Public Hysteria,” Association of American Physicians and Surgeons; http://www.wnd.com/2012/ 08/akin-not-far-off-base-in-rape-comment; also referenced, http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/2255/26/.

 

 

[v] See “Conceived in Rape & Other Exceptions,” December 8, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrYOj3iwskk.

[vi] Hilary White, “No Case Where Abortion Was ‘Necessary to Save Mom’: Eminent Irish Oncologist,” LifeSiteNews, February 22, 2012, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/no-case-where-abortion-was-necessary-to-save-mom-eminent-irish-oncologist.

[vii] “There Is a High Chance of Two Happy Outcomes,” Irish Independent, December 16, 2011, http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/parenting/there-is-a-high-chance-of-two-happy-outcomes-2965911.html.

[viii] “Pregnancy and Cancer” American Society of Clinical Oncology, May 2011, http://www.cancer.net/patient/coping/emotional+and+physical+matters/sexual+and+reproductive+health/pregnancy+and+cancer.

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