What About Rape and Incest?

What About Rape and Incest?

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This is the only comment like this I will ever make: I am not going to tell a woman who is pregnant by rape that she has to have the child. Great if she wants to, but I refuse to force her. Or a girl pregnant by incest. Or a woman who may die with another pregnancy. Or someone who doesn’t want a child. And no, I will not reply to or even read comments about my comment. Yes, it’s a rotten way to do it. I wish there were no abortions, but women – not me, not you, not our churches – have to make this decision.

This was a recent post in a Facebook thread I had been following. On the surface, it would seem difficult, if not uncomfortable for the Christian to respond to. Certainly playing the rape or incest card is a common tactic that pro abortion advocates pull, which leaves many stumped on how to respond. It is these kinds of posts or “drive by” comments that fuel my apologetic fire.

I say “drive by” because like the drive by shootings, the shooter, like this poster, does not want to stick around for a response. In fact, it reminds me of the child who squeezes his eyes shut, plugs his ears, and begins to sing or hum loudly so they don’t hear your reply to something they just said. Childish behavior, yes.

Also in light of the Planned Parenthood videos that have been released, I felt it was going to be a worth while post for some who struggle with the issue of abortion. Let’s break this down and consider all that she wrote.
This is the only comment like this I will ever make: I am not going to tell a woman who is pregnant by rape that she has to have the child. Great if she wants to, but I refuse to force her. Or a girl pregnant by incest. …Or someone who doesn’t want a child.

My impression is that she is uncomfortable making such a strong comment. It could be she expects some push back by family and friends who are pro-life, and has no desire to debate her stand. This is made very clear when a couple of lines down she adds…
And no, I will not reply to or even read comments about my comment. Yes, it’s a rotten way to do it.

So let’s take this at face value and not put any words in her mouth. She voices her opinion, but is completely unwilling to even listen to or consider other reasoned replies. This is a called intolerance, something Christians are accused of quite often. She recognizes and acknowledges that it is a ‘rotten’ way to behave, but does so anyway.

It could be she has had some personal experience with abortion, which would explain to a large degree her posture; I have no way of knowing. If not a personal experience, it could be she had a daughter or sister that experienced the tragedy of an abortion, but whether is was a personal experience, or close family member or friend, it needs to be handled with gentleness and compassion. Yet, as painful as the truth is, you can’t ignore it and it should be brought to light.

Having said that, the purpose of this post is not to point a finger at anyone who has had an abortion, but to take a brief, careful look at the most common arguments Christians encounter for a pro-choice stand.

She stated she was not going to tell a woman who is pregnant by rape that she has to have the child. So if she is not going to force a woman to have the child, then she is allowing the woman to kill her child. These are the words she used. When a woman is having an abortion, she is killing her own child. Pro-abortionists will coin other phrases to soften what is really going on. For example, my wife shared with me the other day that she heard someone use “a product of conception”, referring to the unborn. Really? A product of conception? How about just calling it what it is – a baby.

But, no matter what we call the unborn, there is no getting around the fact that rape could result, and has, (though very rarely), in an unwanted pregnancy.

Bioethicist Andrew Varga, who wrote a book about bioethics, states abortionists explain it this way, “It is argued that in these tragic cases the great value of the mental health of a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest can best be safe-guarded by abortion. It is also said that a pregnancy caused by rape or incest is the result of a grave injustice and that the victim should not be obliged to carry the fetus to viability. This would keep reminding her for nine months of the violence committed against her and would just increase her mental anguish.” 1

Francis Beckwith, a Christian philosopher and apologist, wrote in his article subtitled, The Appeal to Pity, “It is the rapist who is the aggressor. The unborn entity is just as much an innocent victim as its mother. Hence abortion cannot be justified on the basis that the unborn is an aggressor.”2

The pro-choice movement says the woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason. Our culture, and even supposed conservative Republicans, are quick to denounce abortion, but when pressed they bend to popular opinion, especially when the rape and incest card is pulled. Then, almost without fail, they yield to the pro-choice crowd. Yet abortion is wrong in any instance, even in the very rare cases of rape and incest that result, as some pro-choice advocates call it, in a product of conception. They will call it anything but what it is – a human life.

By and large, abortions occur for reasons of convenience. In a detailed study by the Guttmacher Institute, the most common reasons (nearly 75%) were:
-They could not afford the child
-The child would interfere with school or employment
-Concerns of being a single mother and relationship problems 3
According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 1.2 million abortions in 2008. To put that in a different perspective, roughly 2% of women between the ages of 15-44 had an abortion. Less than 1% of those 1.2 million abortions were due to rape or incest. 4

So less than 1% of all abortions are what some call ‘hard cases’, those due to rape or incest, yet many will argue that because of those hard cases, abortion on demand is by far the rule of law. What sense of this can we make? I have heard it put this way: in the first six months of a pregnancy, a woman can have an abortion for no reason. In the last three months, a woman can have an abortion for any reason.

We have traffic laws against speeding, and we have moral laws against killing persons. In rare circumstances, (say, rushing a child to the hospital), we may justifiably break the law. Finding an exception to the law, (speeding to rush a child to the hospital), does not mean we should do away with all of our posted speed limits. Finding what some consider an exception, (which it is not), rape and incest, does not justify abortion on demand. The unborn is just as innocent as the mother in the case of rape. It is the rapist who is the aggressor, not the child. The murder of one person can never be justified to relieve emotional distress. 5

Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, shared a story about when she was lecturing at U.C. Berkeley. A grad student who was a “product of conception” by rape was attending the lectures and her pro-choice peers pulled out the rape card. The grad student said she had a right to be here. They were shocked and replied, “We didn’t mean you!” She made it clear their pro-choice statements included her.6 Should we ever rank the value of human life on how they were conceived?

Rebecca Wasser Kiessling is an attorney who sees helping women and unborn children as a mission through her law practice. Why? She was adopted as an infant, met her birth mother at 19, and found out she was conceived by a serial rapist. Kiessling wrote, “One of the greatest things I’ve learned is that the rapist is NOT my creator, as some people would have me believe.”7 She can’t count the number of times she heard people say what this woman on Facebook wrote,
I am not going to tell a woman who is pregnant by rape that she has to have the child. Great if she wants to, but I refuse to force her.

The question is, force her to do what? By not allowing a women to have an abortion we are forcing, restraining, stopping her, phrase it how ever you want, we are preventing her from killing her own child, taking the life of another human.

Francis Beckwith wrote in the Christian Research Journal, “Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases, abortion results in the death of an innocent human life.”8

I wish there were no abortions, but women – not me, not you, not our churches – have to make this decision.
What is this decision she is referring to? The decision to have an abortion, which is the taking of a human life. Many pro-abortionists will argue it is not a child, baby, or even a person, but in the early stages simply a mass of tissue. If the pro-choice advocates are correct, then having an abortion is of no consequence and the ethical considerations of abortions cease to matter. But what if an abortion is the taking of a human life, no matter what stage of development?

Let’s consider for four states that can help us define what the unborn is – size, development, environment, and dependence.

Starting with size – equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is silly. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. Are basketball players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? How many of you remember William Perry, aka The Refrigerator, who played for Chicago Bears? In high school, he played at 295 pounds! Was he more valuable than the cheerleaders of his team? Height or size has nothing to do with the inherent value of a person.

Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 16 year old boy more valuable than a 6 year old boy? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, and a toddler to a teenager. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 3rd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone, not just the unborn. Level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.

What about environment, or location? Does your value increase or decrease depending on where you are located? Do you have more or less value because you are at work, home, in your car? Do you have more value on the left side of your sofa than on the right side of your sofa? How about those in another country? Do those who live in third world countries have less value than those in developed countries? Does the value of an astronaut change if he is orbiting the earth or walking on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, though the birth-canal, to the hands of a waiting physician? Absolutely not. Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are.

Finally, we have the degree of dependency which again is a point some might argue. If you look at this issue sensibly, then you will see it has nothing to do with the value of a person. Does the young adult who is pro-active and finds a job right out of high school have greater value than another who has not found a job? As a children grow and mature, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? If a small child falls in a pool, do we not rescue them because they are dependent on us for life?

How about economic dependence? Do those who collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their value less due to the medication they need? Obviously, the answer to this is no, and to suggest the value of a person is dependent on their level of dependency is foolish.

After hearing these reasons, someone might respond, “So what? I agree with all this, but you still should not take away a woman’s right to choose.” I would respond, “Choose what?” Think about it, a woman’s right to choose what? Do women have the right to choose to kill an innocent human being? No, they don’t and neither does anyone else, because if size, level of development, environment, and level of dependence does not make a difference in the value of a person, then abortion is the killing of innocent human beings.

The same holds true if there has been an incident of rape or incest which created life. This life is innocent and has the same value as any other human.
Someone might respond, “So you believe even in the case of rape, you would take away a woman’s right to choose?” Again I would ask, “A right to choose what? Because a woman was raped, does that give her the right to kill an innocent human being?” Ray Comfort asked, “Which is worse, rape or murder?” 9

Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 10

In researching this post, one of the more interesting and significant finds was a study by the Elliot Institute which asked women, who were victims of rape and incest, what they did. They found that 80% of those who had an abortion felt it was the wrong solution. On the flip side, they found that 80% of those that carried their babies to term were happy with their decision and didn’t regret giving birth to their child. 11 You will never hear this from the main-stream media.

A pro-life group wrote an open letter to Congress. They were 38 women who were victims of rape and incest, “Our experiences are varied. Many of us carried our pregnancies to term. Some of us raised or are raising our children, while others placed our children in adoptive homes. Others of us had abortions. In many cases, we felt pressured to abort by family members, social workers, and doctors who insisted that abortion was the “best” solution. For many the abortion caused physical and emotional trauma equal to or exceeding the trauma of the sexual assault that our abortions were supposed to ‘cure.’”12

Or a woman who may die with another pregnancy.
I believe what she means is, a woman’s life is threatened by the pregnancy. My first question is, what does this extremely rare condition have to do with abortion on demand? Nothing. These three issues, (rape, incest, threat to the mother), in my opinion are in part, responsible for the abortion on demand laws we have today, because of the difficulty law makers, Christians, and pro-lifers have in responding to them.

Of the three, a threat to the mother’s life is the most difficult. As rare as it is, (a fraction of 1%), it does occur. We have two innocent parties and have to decide which to safeguard. There could be odds involved for the unborn and the mother. I remember many years ago watching a T.V. movie that was about a women who was pregnant, but if she carried the child to term, she would likely lose her life. Rarely does Hollywood produce anything that resembles real life, but it is an issue that some have had to face. It is a decision that the husband and wife would have to make, supported and advised by family, friends, and physicians.

According to Worldmeters there are approximately 125,000 abortions taking place every day. That would be 40 to 50 million a year.13 Abortion on demand for matters of convenience is a modern day genocide, but not a wholesale carnage due to someone’s skin color, someone’s ethnic background, or religion. It is an athocide, (innocent killing) on a scale that dwarfs the slaughter’s of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Lenin combined.

1. Varga, Andrew C. The Main Issues in Bioethics. Costa Mesa: Paulist Press, 1980. Print
2. Beckwith, Francis J. “Answering The Arguments For Abortion Rights (Part One): The Appeal to Pity.” equipsources.org. Christian Research Institute, 1990, Web. 8 August 2015.
3. Finer, Lawrence B, et al. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.” guttmacher.org. Guttmacher Institute, 2005. Web. 11 August 2015.
4. Ibid.
5. “Is abortion justifiable in cases of rape or incest?” christiansanswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1998. Web. 10 August 2015.
6. Foster, Serrin M. “Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions” feministsforlife.org. Feminists For Life, n.d., Web. 11 August 2015.
7. Kiessling, Rebecca. “Rebecca’s Story.” rebeccakiessling.com. Rebecca Kiessling. n.d., Web. 13 August 2015.
8. Beckwith, Francis J. “Answering The Arguments For Abortion Rights (Part One): The Appeal to Pity.” equipsources.org. Christian Research Institute, 1990, Web. 8 August 2015
9. Comfort, Ray. “180 Movie” YouTube Video. YouTube. 21 September. 2011. Web. 25 July. 2013.
10. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion: One Key Issue” str.org. Stand To Reason, 30 March. 2013. Web. 20 July. 2013.
11. Crouse, Janice. “Rape, Incest, and Abortion: Women Victims Want Their Voice Heard.” cwfa.org. Concerned Women For America, 11 October 2012. Web. 9 August 2015.
12. Ibid.
13. “Abortions Worldwide This Year. worldometers.info. Worldmeters, n.d., Web. 13 August 2015.

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What about rape and incest? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

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