Many people who would generally call themselves "pro-life", nevertheless
make an exception in cases of rape.
Pro-abortionists often use rape as a prime example of a justification
for abortion. How, they ask, could you force this poor woman to go
through with this pregnancy?
Pro-lifers typically reply that while they have great sympathy for a
woman who has been so terribly victimized, the rights of the child must
also be considered.
But both sides in this debate rely on one key assumption: That abortion
helps to ease the trauma of a woman who has been raped, and that women
who have been raped want abortions. Pro-abortionists use this as their
rallying cry. Pro-lifers explain why other factors are more important.
But is this assumption true? Surprisingly, with all the studies that the
government, universities, and big companies are always doing on every
conceivable subject, we have only been able to find one small study on
this question. Perhaps it is because everyone just assumed they knew the
But in 1979 Dr Sandra Mahkorn, a professional rape counselor, studied 37
women who had become pregnant through rape. (This was apparently all she
could find. Pregnancy from rape is, in fact, extremely rare. The small
numbers make the study less statistically significant. But we are
certainly not going to hope for more rape victims just so we can get
more reliable studies!) Of the 37, 4 did not complete the study. Of the
remainder, 28 chose to continue their pregnancies, and 5 chose abortion.
So of real pregnant rape victims, only 15% chose abortion.
When questioned, most of these women said that they saw abortion as
another act of violence. One woman said that she "would suffer more
mental anguish from taking the life of the unborn child than carrying
the baby to term" .
But few saw the question as a conflict between her own needs and the
rights of the baby. Rather, most said that the major influence leading
her to abortion was pressure from others: parents, boyfriend, etc.
There is a curious thing about rape: People often place a stigma on the
victim, as if she was the criminal rather than the rapist. They discuss
what she might have done to invite it. Her husband or boyfriend may
suddenly not want to touch her anymore. Friends and relatives shy away
from her. The victim herself often falls into this line of thinking.
Rape victims frequently run home and take a shower or try some other
symbolic means of "cleansing themselves". Rape is one of the most
un-reported crimes, because the victim so often feels guilty and
A few years ago the lawyer for an accused rapist in Florida argued in
court that his client should be acquitted because the victim incited him
by wearing a short skirt. Another judge went even further, releasing a
rapist because he felt that women in his area provoked rape by their
clothes and manners. (In the second case, the judge didn't even say that
the victim herself somehow provoked the attack, just that women in
general encouraged rapists.)
Even if it is true that in some cases a woman "encourages" a rape by
dressing provocatively or walking though a bad neighborhood alone at
night ... That might mean that she was foolish, but it hardly makes her
share in the guilt. Suppose you parked your car and left the keys in the
ignition, and someone stole it. People might say that was a foolish
thing to do, but I doubt anyone would say that you therefore "deserved"
to have your car stolen, or that you are as guilty as the car thief. I
cannot imagine someone suggesting that the thief should be released
because you "asked for it" by leaving such a nice car so easy to steal.
But that is apparently a common response to rape.
And so it seems that the psychological problem faced by a pregnant rape
victim is not that this child will "remind" her of the rape. (Like if
she wasn't pregnant, she would just forget about it.) Rather, it is that
when her pregnancy becomes obvious, she will be forced to "confess" that
she is guilty of being raped. (Similarly, the baby is blamed for being
conceived by rape. He is not thought of as an innocent baby, but as a
"product of rape" -- an ugly blot to be removed.)
Abortion does not solve rape. It simply transforms the victim into a
victimizer. Jackie B. had an abortion after a rape. She later said:
"I soon discovered that the aftermath of the abortion continued a long
time after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible.
Nobody told me about the emptiness and pain I would feel deep within,
causing nightmares and deep depressions. They had all told me that after
the abortion I would continue on with my life as if nothing had
happened. ... I found that though I could forgive the man who raped me,
I couldn't forgive myself for having the abortion."
Debbie "N." wrote:
"I still feel that I probably couldn't have loved that child conceived
of rape, but there are so many people who would have loved that baby
dearly. The man who raped me took a few moments of my life, but I took
that innocent baby's entire life."
Debbie's comment starkly shows the actual effect on the women who is
aborted to "cure" rape: It shifts the focus from the violence the rapist
committed against her, to the violence she committed against the baby. I
would never dream of minimizing rape by saying that it only "took a few
moments" of the woman's life -- clearly the fear, trauma, and sense of
violation lasts much more than a few moments. But Debbie described her
own rape that way, because she is now comparing what the rapist did to
her, with what she did to this baby.
As one young woman put it, "The solution to rape is not abortion. The
solution to rape is stopping rape."
The statistics and quotes from rape victims are from David Reardon,
Aborted Women: Silent No More, Crossway Books, 1987.
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