The Rape Exception

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13~

It was a flashpoint in the argument to legalize abortion in America during the 1970s: rape. How could anyone be so cruel as to suggest that woman who’s been raped has to carry the child of the rapist to term?

The surprising answer is that abortion is frequently pushed onto these rape victims, and abortion victimizes them further.

We are half a century removed from the complete eradication of abortion laws that Roe v Wade and Doe v. Bolton enacted and in the midst of states reacting to the overturning of those cases along with Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).

Surprising is the scant discussion of the compelling subject of abortion because of rape or incest aside from an emotionally charged but “dubious” account of a 10-year-old victim who allegedly had to go out of state to be relieved of the child a rapist implanted.

And there seems to be little interest in finding facts to support what was and still is assumed: That women/girls who suffer rape and girls who suffer incest are better off having abortions than they are delivering babies.

We have barely looked beneath the surface of this assumption.

One study of 37 women pregnant from rape showed that a large majority opted against abortion. “Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion.[1] This evidence alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims.” (Also, see here and here.)

Multiple factors play into the discussion: the woman’s view of abortion before she was assaulted and the conviction that something redeemable can result from something horrible.

It’s interesting that few have replicated such studies. As if impressions that abortion is best, even necessary, in cases of rape are universally valid, further testing is superfluous.

More likely, it seems researchers fear results that would overturn the public’s impression that abortion after rape is beneficial or even benign.

Those impressions carry the same conclusion into the discussion of incest. But in cases of incest, abortion erases the evidence of a crime and allows abuse to continue.

David C. Reardon, Ph.D.:

“Studies show that incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to an abortion.[4]Instead of viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity. She is also likely to see in her pregnancy the hope of bearing a child with whom she can establish a true, loving relationship, one far different than the exploitive relationship in which she has been trapped.”

So it isn’t the way we thought it was. No matter which study we consider, assault victims are not lining up in great majorities to abort their pregnancies. They are not claiming that abortion saved them from something more horrible.

more recent survey of sexual assault victims–one that includes a much larger sample (192 women) than the studies cited above–states that 80 percent of women who aborted children conceived from assault regretted their abortions. No woman who gave birth expressed regret.

Missing in much of this discussion is the voice of the children. Rebecca Kiessling is one such voice. Conceived as a result of rape and later adopted, she speaks for the tiniest persons involved.

“Most importantly, I’ve learned, I’ll be able to teach my children, and I teach others that your value is not based on the circumstances of your conception, your parents, your siblings, your mate, your house, your clothes, your looks, your IQ, your grades, your scores, your money, your occupation, your successes or failures, or your abilities or disabilities — these are the lies that are perpetuated in our society.”

Our worth comes from our Creator. He values the littlest ones no matter how they came to be. We can value them too by helping their mothers. Those who have suffered such abuse need not suffer more.

It’s time to tell the truth about rape and abortion. Abortion harms women. Abortion kills children–no matter how they came to be.

Speak up for mothers and children.

Photo Credit: Pexels

See also: Not Some Rapist’s Child

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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