Hi Katie! I have a question for you. Are you still anti-abortion in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger? You've probably already answered these, so I'm sorry! But I was just curious as to what your opinion is. 😊
Hi! Thanks for asking! I’m always happy to re-explain my positions, especially on hard cases, because it gives me a chance to practice and to clarify.
Let’s take these one at a time, because they are all very complex.
Rape is wrong. Rape is horrible, evil, despicable…and any other words I can come up with. Rapists should be caught, put on trial, and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Survivors of rape should be protected. They should be supported, loved, and cared for. They should have access to health care that they need, counseling, and support groups. They should have friends and family around them who love and care for them. If that isn’t the case, communities need to step up and fill those gaps.
We can all generally agree on these things. They aren’t controversial. Pro-life people, pro-choice people, conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians…just about everyone. If someone doesn’t agree with those things, we stare at them like they’ve just grown a second head.
But what about the children of survivors of rape?
This is my friend Patti. We met doing pro-life work while I was in college out in California. She was conceived in rape. Her birth mother chose to place her for adoption, and she grew up loved and cared for. She says:
“I want to say that even though the circumstances of my conception were in violence and hatred, I am not my father, nor am I my mother. I am unique. I was created by a loving God and my life is so valuable. And so is the life of every baby conceived — valuable and a gift from God.“
This is Travon. She was conceived in rape. Her mother raised her instead of choosing adoption, and told her about who her father was after her 18th birthday. Today, she is a speaker, wife, and mother. She travels telling her story and advocating for children like her to be protected under the law.
This is Mary. Her mother had paranoid schizophrenia and was married to a man who also had a mental disability. When her mother was raped, the husband went to the police, but ultimately claimed Mary as his own to protect his wife’s reputation. Because of her mother’s schizophrenia, Mary was cared for by another couple, visiting her birth parents periodically. Eventually, when she was five years old, that couple adopted her.
(More stories at SaveThe1.com)
Do any of these people look like they were conceived in rape? What would that look like? My friend Patti told me that she has heard people refer to those conceived in rape as “devil spawn.” Should they have horns and tails? Should they carry pitchforks?
Or are they children? Teenagers? Adults? Mothers and fathers? Husbands and wives? People?
The circumstances of conception, no matter how violent, how terrible, do not reduce the value of the child conceived. If abortion is wrong because it kills a human being, then it is wrong no matter who that human being’s father is.
What about the mother? Like I said above, I am all in favor of resources and support for survivors of rape. I am all for counseling to help them process and heal. Abortion will not solve their problems. It will not take away their nightmares. It will not take away their fear, their pain. It will only take away the life of their child, who has no guilt in how he or she was conceived.
Meet Darlene. She was not only conceived in rape, but as a teenager she became a victim of child trafficking and became pregnant from rape herself. She says that in order to escape from her captor, she pretended to have an abortion. Now she is married with five children and two grandchildren.
Darlene, despite her own difficult childhood and the way she was forced into motherhood at a young age, has made it her life’s mission to protect the lives of children like her and her oldest child.
“I am so passionate about the value of every life; whether one is conceived with wine and roses, in a test tube or as a result of violence. I absolutely reject the utilitarian view that people are valuable only if they can contribute to society in arbitrarily contrived ways. We should all hold to the Declaration of Independence’s admonition that each of us is endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights: the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These God given rights are consecutive, not concurrent. Without the right to life, nothing else matters.“
I have included all of these stories here not because they prove my point. I include them because these are the real human beings we’re talking about when we talk about abortion in the case of rape. We need to remember these faces, these names, every time someone says “cases of rape are only 1% of abortions, we shouldn’t be a stickler over 1%.” Every time someone says “a pregnancy from rape is only a terrible reminder for the mother.” Every time someone says “abortion is okay for the same reason that rape is wrong, because of bodily autonomy.”
These are the people we’re talking about killing.
Pro-lifers know that abortion kills children and hurts women. So why should we abandon those women and children who have also been hurt by rape to the additional pain and death of abortion?
This is very similar to the case of rape, and many people put these two together. However, I gave incest its own section so I could deal with what does make it different.
In the case of incest, we have an extra layer of complexity that makes these cases exceptionally painful. In the case of incest, we usually have a young girl who is raped by a close family member, often her own father. She has been scarred in ways that someone who didn’t experience that can never understand. And now she’s pregnant, probably at a very young age.
What do we do?
First, we get her out of that situation as quickly as we can. We get her to a safe place, and we do everything we can to make her feel safe. We don’t want her to be worried about her rapist coming back for her, at least no more than she has to be.
We put her rapist in jail. We make sure that he is punished to the fullest extent of the law. Perhaps we even find comfort in knowing that in prison, he will be rejected even by other criminals for the nature of his crime.
But she’s still pregnant. And she’s still a child. What do we do?
We love and care for her and her child. We find a permanent home for her, through adoption or through other family members if possible. We give her power over the process as much as we can so she feels like she has some control. We talk to her about adoption and parenting, and we let her make the decision. If she chooses parenting, we work with her new guardians to make a plan for her welfare and the child’s. If she chooses adoption, we give her the opportunity to meet potential adoptive parents and choose the family that she wants her child to have. We give her the choice between open and closed adoption, so that she doesn’t feel like her child was taken from her.
We don’t kill her child.
Just like those conceived in rape, people conceived in incest are still people. They are human beings with the same right to life as any other human being. We cannot abandon them either.
If abortion is wrong because it kills a human being, then it is always wrong.
Health/Life of the Mother
This case is almost more complex, because here we get into the definition of abortion. For our purposes, I am defining abortion as a procedure that intentionally takes the life of the preborn child.
There is one case that comes the closest to abortion being necessary, and that is a tubal pregnancy. In these cases, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube. With current medical technology, we have no way to save the child. If we do not intervene, the child will grow, the tube will rupture, and the mother can die from hemorrhaging. So we have to intervene and remove the child from the fallopian tube.
I do not consider this an abortion. Our goal is not to kill the child, but to save the mother. If, someday, we found a way to save the child and the mother, we would do it. But currently, we can’t. A doctor’s job is to save as many patients as possible, but the loss of a patient does not mean the doctor is a murderer. He or she is only guilty of murder if the patient is intentionally killed.
This same reasoning applies to every other case. It is wrong to intentionally kill the child. However, if the child needs to be removed to save the mother’s life, we can do so. We just need to be sure that we are also concerned for the life of the child, and doing everything we can to save that child’s life as well.
Some will argue that late-term abortion is necessary to save mothers, but this makes no sense. Sure, and early delivery might save the life of the mother. But why should dismembering, poisoning, or beheading that child in the process do anything to improve the mother’s health?
For more on this from an actual doctor (which I am not), watch this video of an interview with Dr. Anthony Levatino. Dr. Levatino was an abortionist and is still an OB/GYN. He worked out of a regular practice rather than an abortion clinic, and so he would routinely do an abortion in one room and then talk to a mother who was keeping her child in the other. He saw patients with complicated and high-risk pregnancies. He knew, even then, that abortion was not necessary. In fact, as he says in the video, for late-term patients an abortion is more dangerous than an early delivery. A late-term abortion might take up to three days, while a c-section delivery could take an hour. If the mother’s life is truly in that much danger, which would you choose?
Every case is different when we’re talking about high-risk pregnancies, but we can tackle each of them in a pro-life way by following a simple rule: treat both mother and child as patients. If we are doing that, we will find the best approach that saves the most lives.
I hope this helps! Feel free to ask for any clarification on anything I’ve said here.