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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Don't use rape victims to try to justify abortion

Posted by Fiorella Nash on 3 November 2015

Not without reason, rape is seen as the ultimate hard case when it comes to abortion and it is used relentlessly by the abortion industry to justify abortion under all circumstances. The abuse of rape survivors to forward an ideological agenda is cruel and dishonest.

The abortion industry does not want abortion for hard cases; if abortion were only legal in cases of rape and incest, no abortion facility would remain open for business for very long. Abortion promoters want abortion on demand under all circumstances and at all stages of gestation – they make no secret of this – but rape provides an outwardly compassionate smokescreen for the industry’s ugly agenda.

The voices of women who have conceived through rape are rarely heard if they have carried their babies to term and those that are heard tend to be treated as atypical, when in reality, women who become pregnant through rape do not automatically book themselves in for abortions. Around half give birth to their babies and either raise the child themselves or arrange for the child to be adopted.

"Deeply offended and dismayed"

Using rape survivors to promote abortion can make it harder for those who carry their babies to term as it is assumed that rape victims will always have abortions and women who refuse to do so may feel that they have to justify their decision to allow their child to live (they may even feel that the rape itself is disbelieved).

In 2011, a group of women who had conceived through rape, signed a petition expressing their anger that their pain continues to be used to promote abortion. Part of the text states:

  • "We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others. This is a grave injustice. In pursuing their political agendas, these exploiters have reduced our concerns, needs and circumstances to a crude caricature … Only we who have actually experienced a sexual assault pregnancy truly understand the trauma, fears, concerns and needs of our sisters who are, or will someday become, pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
    Each year, thousands of women will face this experience. Unless society at large begins to listen to us today, these other women will, like us, face great difficulty in finding authentic understanding and help."

Kathleen De Zeeuw, a rape survivor and mother, speaks candidly of how it feels to be used as an unwilling mascot for the abortion industry:

  • "I, having lived through rape, and also having raised a child “conceived in rape,” feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest. I feel that we’re being used to further the abortion issue, even though we’ve not been asked to tell our side of the story."

However, beyond the manipulative rhetoric of abortion apologists, there are reasons why many individuals who would normally oppose abortion make an exception for rape. It is a horrific crime against a woman’s bodily integrity and an act of violence which will have lifelong consequences for the victim. Abortion can seem like the compassionate response, a means of allowing a woman to move on with her life by giving her back the control over her body that was taken from her during the rape.

Abortion cannot 'cure' rape

This reasoning, though seemingly logical, ignores the harsh reality of both rape and abortion for those involved. Abortion is not and has never been a cure for rape. Treating abortion as a form of necessary medical care for a victim of rape is dishonest and simplistic; a woman who has been raped requires support and assistance to recover from the rape and abortion can never erase the horror of that act or help the woman to heal. A woman cannot be unraped or the trauma mitigated by abortion. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, women who have abortions following rape have worse mental health outcomes than those who carry their babies to term.

A line frequently used to justify abortion after rape is that the woman will be ‘reminded of the rape every time she looks at the baby.’ This is unjust on many levels. Many children may unwittingly provoke traumatic memories in their mothers e.g. a little boy may physically resemble the mother’s violent former boyfriend, but no one seriously suggests blaming the child and ending his life. Furthermore, a woman does not need a baby to be reminded of rape, and a baby, whether or not the woman chooses to raise the baby herself,  can be a source of real happiness and healing, as well as a source of painful memories. The horrific effects of rape will remain with her for the rest of her life, whether or not she gives birth. To suggest otherwise trivializes the traumatic effect of rape on a woman’s life.

In terms of the injustice done to the unborn child, abortion is always and under all circumstances a brutal act which ends an innocent life. It is unacceptable to judge a person’s right to life based upon the crimes of the father. Very few people advocate the execution of rapists, however horrific their crime – on what grounds can society justify the killing of an innocent life after rape? No one chooses how they come into existence. Our conception is one of those few acts over which we have no control and for which we cannot be held accountable. Referring to children conceived through rape as ‘the rapist’s child’ is dehumanizing and insulting to the thousands of individuals conceived this way. Modern societies do not refer to any other citizen in terms of his or her parentage or punish children for their fathers’ crimes.

"Feeling that I was disposable"

Rebecca Kiessling was adopted as a baby and discovered when she was eighteen that her birthmother had been attacked at knifepoint by a serial rapist. When she discovered the truth about her conception, she wrote:

  • "It was as if I could hear the echoes of all those people who, with the most sympathetic of tones, would say, “Well, except in cases of rape. . .  ,” or who would rather fervently exclaim in disgust: “Especially in cases of rape!!!”  All these people are out there who don‘t even know me, but are standing in judgment of my life, so quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived. I felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I would have to prove myself to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living. I also remember feeling like garbage because of people who would say that my life was like garbage — that I was disposable."

A truly just society protects women from rape, cares for and supports the victims of rape and punishes the men responsible for these crimes. Abortion is never a just solution.

SPUC recently interviewed one woman who was became pregnant as a result of rape and rejected abortion - watch her story now:

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