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Part 16 Why abortion is wrong even in the case of rape

I will finish my series by posting a few good articles on various issues dealing with the unborn.  The first one comes from Alan Shlemon, a friend who is on staff at Stand to Reason.  He is the author of The Ambassador’s Guide to Islam and speaks on a wide variety of topics.   In this article he helps give some clarity to this difficult issue of rape and abortion.

Rape and Abortion by Alan Shlemon

My friend, Susan, chose the easy route when she found she was pregnant. Susan was raped. She thought about going to the local abortion clinic. Except the head of the pro-life club – the one Susan had joined at her Christian university – was a frequent protester outside. How could Susan walk past her friend and then into the clinic? But without an abortion, she’d feel guilty, shameful, and embarrassed once her Christian friends and family found out. Given the option of a quick abortion or enduring a nine month pregnancy with the rapist’s child, Susan chose the easy route. She chose life.

“Easy” was the word she used. It caught me off guard. How can she call that easy? The physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth are difficult. There’s morning sickness, backaches, the pains of childbirth, and all the possible complications. Then there’s the psychological component: the stigma of being an unwed mother, the humiliation of rape, feelings of guilt, and the anger at the man who hurt her.

And after giving birth, you either endure the gut-wrenching turmoil of handing over your child to an adoption agency or begin the arduous task of parenting a newborn – as a single mom.

So, why did my friend refer to her decision as the “easy” route?  Two reasons. The first was her understanding of the logical reasoning and arguments against abortion. She believed that, despite being raped, having an abortion was the wrong choice.

I remember being challenged with this question by a student during my debate against a women’s studies professor at California State University in San Marcos, CA. I explained that rape doesn’t justify abortion. Here’s how I knew. I asked the audience, rhetorically, if a mother can kill her three-year-old girl who is conceived through rape. No, because rape doesn’t justify killing a three-year-old. If you can’t kill a three-year-old girl because she was conceived through rape, then you can’t kill that same girl because of rape if she’s still inside her mother’s womb. It’s the same girl; it’s just she’s not born yet in one case.

Some abortion-choice advocates protest this reasoning by pointing out that I’m talking about two different things. The three-year-old is a born girl and the one inside is not. That’s a big difference. But notice now that they’re changing the distinction. It’s no longer a matter of being raped or not, but whether the child is born or not. This proves that rape is not the real issue. Abortion-choice advocates think that the unborn is not a human being like the three-year-old girl. They just use rape as an extreme example because of its powerful rhetorical effect.

Here’s another way I look at this question. Imagine a woman is raped, gets pregnant, and the rapist is caught. Would we allow the woman to shoot and kill the rapist? No. If we don’t allow the woman to shoot the rapist who’s guilty, then why would we allow the woman to kill the child who’s innocent? Why should the child pay for the crime of her father?

Yes, my friend was victimized. But she realized that it would be wrong to then turn around and victimize another completely innocent person – her own daughter.

Susan knew this. She decided that to carry her child to term was easier because these apologetic arguments simplified the logic of her predicament. They provided a powerful moral compass during a tumultuous time.

But there was a second reason that Susan felt her decision was the easy route. She avoided the heartache of abortion. Rape creates a long-term, painful memory of a past event. And the child may be a reminder of that for years to come. But an abortion adds a second painful memory – that of killing your own child. It often leaves a woman broken and guilty. It neither un-rapes her nor erases the memory of that event.

Instead, women who abort often remember what the birthdate would have been had their child survived. Each year that day reminds them of not one crime, but two: the rape and now the abortion. That leads many women into anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Susan didn’t want that. It would only make her situation more difficult.

So my friend chose life to avoid the heartache of abortion. Now, her daughter, Mandy, is a beautiful, six-year-old girl. Although Susan wasn’t ready to be mother, she found loving Christian parents who were. Susan still gets to see Mandy and they’ve developed a loving relationship.

It is often thought that a woman who has become pregnant through rape only needs emotional support. Logical arguments are said to be largely irrelevant. But it turns out that Susan was able to work out her dilemma through moral reasoning. Apologetic arguments she learned at her pro-life club, combined with her friend’s emotional support, gave her a foundation to make the right choice.

But Susan knew it was also the easier choice. If Susan chose abortion, she’d be consumed with guilt and shame for untold years. Instead, her choice to give Mandy life also gave herself life. Not only was her daughter able to live, but Susan was able to live – live with herself for making the right and easy choice.

This is why I do what I do. The pro-life skills I teach around the country are designed to help people like Susan. It gives them the logical tools to ground their thinking when emotions are blowing them in every direction. And your partnership helps me do that. Not only are you equipping the Susan’s of this world, you’re also helping to save the Mandy’s.

Go to part 17 here

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright January 13, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Steve;
    Do you have any studies indicating the willingness or non-willingness of a raped woman to carry the baby to term? What if the child or woman took a “morning-after pill”…..still abortion with all the alleged guilt? The child would never know….

  • Steve January 16, 2012, 6:02 am

    Tom,
    You asked, “Do you have any studies indicating the willingness or non-willingness of a raped woman to carry the baby to term?” Do you have any studies on this issue? What does this have to do with whether or not a woman should have the right to kill her unborn baby?

    The issue is still the same. Do you approve of killing an precious unborn human because he or she is in the way or reminds the child about the rape? Now you want to kill the baby with a pill. What has changed? How do you know an eleven to twelve year wouldn’t understand? This seems extremely far-fetched. The guilt comes with the knowledge killing your baby in your womb. Are you still in favor of two crimes? First the rape and second the killing of an innocent unborn human baby? In your replies you keep ignoring the baby. What did the baby do wrong? Why is so easy for you to support the killing of a baby?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright January 16, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Steve;
    I support the killing of an unborn baby if it is suspected by a doctor that it will harm the mother mentally or physically.
    RE; the Morning After Pill. Why not give it to the raped child? She may not be pregnant. If she is she would have no idea what happened. Remember, the rape happened less than 24hrs ago, and there is no “baby”, or even a fetus. We’re talking microscopic, Steve!

    “The guilt comes with the knowledge killing your baby in your womb.”

    No baby is being killed with this pill, unless you’re extending the term “baby” to a dot the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

    Steve, I hate to pull out the old “what if it happened to your daughter” question, but I think it is warranted because of your extreme position. You would be making a decision for her which would undoubtedly effect the rest of her life. What if she wanted an abortion? What about the poor unwanted baby? Either she would have to raise it, perhaps resenting it and its effect on her future, or give it up for adoption. The child would always know.
    It seems that anti-abortionists care more for the baby before it’s born.

    And its “not easy” to support my position. This is a very complex topic with NO easy answers.

  • Steve January 23, 2012, 5:11 pm

    Tom,
    The issue has to do with whether or not a baby should be killed if a rape occurs. The goal of the morning after pill is to kill the innocent baby after a horrible crime has been committed. Do you think killing the baby helps the mother cope with a rape? Now the mother has to deal with two tragedies. I am going to post this week two articles on studies demonstrating the negative psychological effects of abortion on women.

    Science tells us at conception the fetus is 100% human. Here you are excluding the baby just because he or she is the size of a dot at the end of a sentence. Size is simply your arbitrary standard to eliminate a baby. Do you think the larger you are the more rights you should have? Should Shaquille O’Neil have more rights than you? If your answer is no, then size should not be factor for determining the life or death of a baby.

    I taught my daughter the value of all human life. Based on her upbringing and knowledge of the truth, she would not have wanted to kill her innocent baby. You say, “what about the poor unwanted baby?” So your solution for a possible unwanted baby is to kill him or her. And you say I have an “extreme position.” You are favor of killing the baby and I am for saving the life of an innocent unborn human. Who has the extreme position?

    The reason you position is not easy is because you support the killing of an innocent human baby. This is an extreme position. There are easy answers; you are not willing to consider them. The easy answer is to not kill a precious unborn baby because he may remind the mother of a terrible tragedy.

    Steve

  • Cynthia May 9, 2012, 2:44 pm

    The difference in value between a human zygote (a fertilized egg) and a newborn baby is vast. If there were a fire in an in vitro fertilization lab, and I had to choose between saving the newborn baby of my lab colleague and saving 100 human zygotes in a petri-dish, I would choose the baby. In fact, if there was no newborn baby, but there was some risk to myself from the fire, I would not be concerned with those 100 human zygotes, even knowing that someday several might be implanted in a woman’s womb. I would save myself. Most people would make the same decision.

    Why? Because a human zygote is not a human being, it is not a person. It carries unique human DNA, true, but so do human skin cells. Human DNA does not equal a human being: we know this. Intuitively, we understand that something “more” is required to turn a zygote into a human person. And that “more” is the contribution of an actual human being, a woman: the blood pumping from her heart, the oxygen pumping from her lungs, her very life’s essence enriching the environment in which the zygote develops and then turns into embryo and then finally into fetus, a human being with the inalienable right to exist.

    To say that a zygote is a human person, worthy of the same rights as a newborn infant, is to say that a woman’s contribution to the process of creating a human being is not important, it’s negligible. The equation, human zygote equals human being, profoundly diminishes women.

    Zygotes become human beings within the womb. It’s a process. Many die along the way: at least 50% never even reach the uterus. Those that survive and implant themselves in a woman’s womb slowly, but surely take on more and more of the characteristics that make us uniquely human beings.

    We need an abortion policy that reflects this reality. People will argue at what point the zygote turns into a human being with the inalienable right to exist: some will say at conception (a position that is deeply insulting to women); others will say at the time that a beating heart is manifested; others will say at the time when higher brain functions appear; and, yet others will say when the fetus is viable, when it is able to live outside the womb independently of its mother (around 24 weeks).

    I’m of the latter opinion, and my position is “Pro-choice Until Viability,” “Pro-Life after Viability.”

  • Cynthia May 9, 2012, 3:27 pm

    “Do you think killing the baby helps the mother cope with a rape? Now the mother has to deal with two tragedies. I am going to post this week two articles on studies demonstrating the negative psychological effects of abortion on women.”

    Well, when you attempt to frame the conversation as “abortion is killing babies,” then you’re severely messing with a woman’s head. Abortion kills or makes possible the death of human zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. It does not kill “babies,” which are tiny human beings unattached to and able to survive outside of another human being’s womb.

    A woman who has just been raped and who has taken the Morning After Pill to avoid pregnancy is going to feel far differently than a raped woman wanting an abortion whose pregnancy has progressed beyond 24 weeks. In the latter case, for 24 weeks her life’s blood, the oxygen in her lungs, her very essence has gone into creating that human being. For many women, I would imagine that there’s a world of difference between those two situations.

    To put it simply, abortion is not the same experience for all women. One key factor is how far along in the pregnancy does abortion occur. Another is a woman’s relgious beliefs: does she believe that personhood starts at conception, or that a divinely-inspired soul enters the zygote at conception? If so, abortion may be far more traumatic for her, even if it does occur very early in pregnancy.

    “I am going to post this week two articles on studies demonstrating the negative psychological effects of abortion on women.”

    If those studies were not performed by reputable, disinterested organizations, they mean nothing. For one thing, too many organizations, whether they be “pro-Life” or “pro-choice,” have too much “skin in the game” to produce honest results. For another, the majority of women who’ve had abortions will continue to remain quiet about their experience. Most likely, only those women who’ve had abortions and are passionately pro-life or who are passionately pro-choice will be willing to speak out. And what they say may be highly influenced by their stance on abortion.

  • Cynthia May 9, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Abortion is a moral tragedy. Granting the State the power to force a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will is also a moral tragedy. We need an abortion policy that recognizes both of these realities.

    Abortion should be:
    ~Legal
    ~Widely available
    ~Restricted. Woman should be able to have abortions until the fetus is viable (24 weeks), and then abortion should be limited to those instances when the fetus is severely malformed or genetically diseased; or, when a woman’s life is in danger. These exceptions should be determined by an authorized medical panel.
    ~Strongly discouraged. Abortion clinics should be required and funded to offer (not force upon!) women information about the developmental stages of the zygote, embryo, and fetus, and how that relates to her pregnancy; homes for pregnant women and girls with nowhere to go should be funded and widely promoted; and adoption (especially adoption of unwanted children) should be rewarded by steep tax cuts.
    ~Sex education should be encouraged. Parents should be encouraged to tell their children about the dangers of irresponsible sex (pregnancy, sexual diseases, emotional trauma, the risk of lifelong poverty for single moms and their children). There should be free online training that parents can use, training that permits religiously conservative parents to focus on abstinence before marriage, and the rhythm method as the only reasonable means of birth control; and permits less conservative parents to condemn irresponsible sex (NO sex during teenage years, NO casual or hook-up sex, only sex between emotionally committed partners, and information highlighting the pros and cons of various types of birth control).

    Again, abortion should be legal, widely available, as early in pregnancy as possible, severely restricted after fetus viability, and strongly discouraged socially through information and counseling offered voluntarily to pregnant women at abortion clinics; group homes and cheap medical care for pregnant women and girls with few resources or nowhere to go; adoption (and especially adoption of unwanted children) should be rewarded through serious tax breaks; and free online tools for parents to teach their children about sex, and encourage abstinence before marriage, or responsible sex (NO sex during teenage years, NO casual sex, ONLY sex within emotionally-committed relationships, and information about various birth control methods).

  • Steve May 16, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Cynthia,
    Thank for your well written response. I will respond to the issues you have raised.

    You begin by disqualifying the unborn as human by an illustration and then you simply assert the unborn is not a human person. Your illustration at best shows we are inconsistent is valuing human life. The illustration is not an argument against whether or not the unborn is human. Following the illustration you simply asserted your view of the unborn and provided no evidence for why the unborn is not human.

    In part 7 of my series “Defending the Life of the Unborn” I provided evidence the unborn at all stages of development is human. One way I did this by quoting science textbooks. I will reproduce the information from that post:

    I begin with citing leading embryology books that confirm this. For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” [Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) p.2.] Here the text clearly states that upon conception the unborn is a unique human being.

    Moving to the textbook Human Embryology and Teratology we read: “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed….The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.” Again additional evidence the unborn is a distinct, living, whole human being.

    Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question the humanity of the unborn. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.

    Many more embryonic books could be cited as evidence. I found a web site that quotes and displays many books that serve as medical testimony for identifying the unborn is fully human. The site is called ABORT73 and the key page can be found at Medical Testimony.

    [Steve] Your comparison of human skin cells is a confusion of parts and wholes. The skins cells are comprised of unique DNA but are only a part of the human organism. However, the Zygote is a whole human organism. The Zygote is a 100% human being as the medical textbooks verify.

    The fact is the zygote is a developing human, similar to a newborn who is growing and developing. You assert this diminishes the role of the mother. Why would you think that? Isn’t the mother even more important at this point since the little baby is physically connected to her in a way that is incredibly special? Why would this diminish the role of the mother? It looks to me like it increases her role.

    You finish by saying, “…my position is ‘Pro-choice Until Viability,’ ‘Pro-Life after Viability.’ What do you mean by viability? Who gives you the power to come up with an arbitrary line between life and death? What is your justification for taking the life of a precious unborn human person?

  • Steve May 17, 2012, 6:39 am

    Cynthia,
    Again you assert, without evidence, the unborn is not a baby. Your thoughts on the issue of rape and the unborn still hinges on the question, what is it? You call the unborn zygotes, embryos, or a fetus to avoid the obvious; the unborn is a baby. Until you provide scientific evidence demonstrating the unborn is not human, I can use the words “killing babies” because that is an accurate description of the unborn. My statement still stands, a woman having an abortion after a rape takes part in two tragedies; the terrible event and the killing of her baby.

    Your example of the morning after pill again does nothing to answer the question, what is it? I agree the more a baby develops, the more attachment the mother feels. That is normal. However, you still haven’t answered the question, what is it?

    Finally, you discounted the experiences of women testimonies because they might be biased. Everyone who writes comes from a certain perspective. Does that mean a holocaust victim cannot write the truth when recalling his experiences? Does that mean these women cannot be telling the truth because they might be pro-life? Don’t you think many women struggle after aborting their child?

    Why isn’t using an abortion for a solution for being raped two tragedies? The rape is a brutal offense against the woman and killing the baby is also terrible solution. You still haven’t given any evidence for the unborn not being human. I have a Christian pastor friend, who is an ex student of mine, and who was the baby of a rape. Maybe you’d like to get his view…oh but he might be biased because he survived death in the womb and he is pro-life.

    Do you see the problem? The baby in the womb is innocent and shouldn’t be sacrificed. How is killing the baby going to make things right?

  • Steve May 19, 2012, 5:44 pm

    Cynthia,
    You begin this letter by stating abortion is a moral tragedy. Why is it a tragedy? Is it because abortion takes the life of an innocent precious unborn human baby?

    You then rail against the government who has the power to force a woman to carry out a pregnancy against her will. It still comes down to the question, what is the unborn? If the unborn is simply a mass of tissue, then just like any surgery that removes damaged tissue from the body, we don’t need justification for that procedure. However, if the unborn is human, no justification for abortion is warranted (outside of life for life situations). If the mother is having her baby killed the government should step in. You also try to make the baby some sort of enemy of the woman; as if the innocent baby is forcing herself on the mother. The womb is the natural environment for babies and that little child is not like an unwanted invader. She has done nothing wrong to the mother.

    You then wrote abortion should be:
    – Legal: Since I have provided the only evidence in this discussion showing how science says the unborn is fully human (see part 7 of Defending the Life of the Unborn), then you think government should support the murder of a precious unborn human baby.
    – Widely available: To allow for the rampant killing of unborn humans.
    – Restricted: Here you pick an arbitrary number of weeks, 24 when a baby shouldn’t be killed. My daughter-in-law just had a 4D sonogram of her baby at 19 weeks. He/she looks fully formed resting peacefully in her womb. And you are okay with ripping this cute little unborn baby from the peaceful natural environment and killing him/her. Since I have provided the only scientific evidence that the unborn is fully human at conception, then the killing of the unborn at all stages is murder. Please read parts 9 and 10 of my series “Defending the Life of the Unborn” (see site map). I provide a powerful argument against your setting of an arbitrary 24 week cutoff line for either life or death. It is called the SLED test and it exposes your discrimination arguments against the unborn. It calls into question your point of viability.
    – Strongly discouraged: Here we have some points of agreement. First asking abortion clinics to provide accurate information about the mother’s baby is a positive step. I am against abortion clinics but if they are to exist they need to do this. Planned Parenthood if famous for hiding information from pregnant women. They have been caught and documented on the instances they have hidden accurate information from mothers. There are many pro-life clinics that provide all the information you have mentioned. Planned Parenthood has tried to sue many of these clinics out of business, because accurate information discourages abortion which takes away money from the abortion providers.
    – Sex education: Schools have not done a good job here. It all comes down to the philosophy of the school district as to what gets taught and what gets encouraged. It is the job of the parent to educate their children. If sex outside of marriage disappeared, we would not be having this discussion. However, that seems to be impossible to ever achieve. I agree with you, I think we need to help parents to educate their kids.

    Some of your closing points I agree with. You seem to have a conservation opinion, while still maintaining a woman’s right to an abortion. That’s where we part company. I have provided in my 3 replies to your 3 letters:
    1) Scientific evidence for the unborn being fully human (part 7 and my first comment reply to you).
    2) The SLED test (parts 9 & 10 of Defending the Life of the Unborn: use site map) to dismantle your arbitrary 24 weeks viability line between life or death.

    You on the other hand have no scientific evidence to support your view and your 24 week cutoff line discriminates against precious unborn human babies without proper justification (SLED test).

    Cynthia thanks for writing. If you haven’t already, please read my entire series Defending the Life of the Unborn. I think I have provided the arguments and rationale to help you make a reasoned decision in favor the life of the unborn.

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