This is a terribly difficult issue. Rape is one of humanity’s most horrific crimes, and thus it’s easy to let emotions cloud any discussions involving this most horrendous of acts. When we look at the morality of abortion in cases of sexual assault, for the dignity of both the victim and the unborn child, we must maintain a laser focus on the question, Is the newly conceived life human? There can be no beneficial discussions of this issue without that question at the center.
I would add that it is critical to encourage all women in crisis pregnancies (whether or not they are rape victims) to consider this most fundamental of questions, because too often they are pushed into abortions before they have a chance to examine the situation carefully. Later, their suffering is compounded when they understand more about what was actually happening inside their womb. Those who purport to support choice might find common ground with pro-lifers here.
Being “pro-life” means that you believe a unique, whole, living human person is created at the moment of fertilization. That’s why abortion, regardless of the tragic circumstances of conception, is always wrong; it is the deliberate killing of an innocent pre-born human being.
The abortion industry agrees that almost all abortions are performed because of spousal or partner pressure and a perceived or real lack of resources to parent. Abortions performed because of rape or incest are the extreme minority: 1 percent.
Pro-lifers believe that all human life should be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what the parentage may be. If my father goes out today and commits an act of mass murder, does that justify someone’s killing me? The child conceived during a rape may remind the mother of the horrific act of violence she endured, but does that justify the killing of the child?
Pope John Paul II wrote: “Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create. Violence and war can never resolve the problems of men.” It is insensitive to say to a woman who has been raped that the horrific violence of rape can be eased or erased by simply aborting the child conceived during the rape. One act of violence cannot erase another.
Because of the 15-second media culture we live in, pro-life politicians today feel they must say abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest. Talking about the horrific violence of rape and the personhood of all human beings in a way that is compassionate and sensitive is not possible in a 15-second sound bite. The pro-life movement must do more to educate Americans about the personhood of all human beings. Only then will pro-life politics follow.