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June 7, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. A local newspaper columnist who is generally pro-life wrote that it is “immoral” to force “rape and incest victims to carry a baby to term resulting from a non-consensual violent act.” Is there a good response one can make to this argument? — G.V., via e-mail.
A. You could start by asking whether it isn’t also immoral to kill an innocent unborn child because of the crime committed by his or her father. The baby did nothing wrong, so why should he or she be punished with a cruel death? Will the abortion make the trauma of rape go away? Not likely. What it will do is add another trauma to the life of the victimized woman — the trauma of knowing that she killed her child.
On the surface, abortion in cases of rape and incest sounds like a reasonable solution to a horrible event and to the problem of having to carry the child resulting from rape. But is it? While rape victims seeking abortion account for less than one percent of the more than one million abortions every year in this country, nevertheless one victim of rape is one too many.
But what about the other victim of the rape — the child conceived by the woman?
There are many abortion supporters who consider the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment and would oppose it even for rapists. So how can they support the death penalty for the innocent child? He or she is not guilty of any crime, so why should the child be put to death? Former abortionist turned pro-lifer Dr. Bernard Nathanson put it this way:
“Rape is a heinous, ineradicably humiliating act of violence imposed upon a defenseless woman. The key word is ‘ineradicably,’ for the destruction of the innocent human being created as a result of that act can never eradicate the unspeakable emotional and psychological residue of that rape. To the contrary, it can only compound the residue with another deadly act of violence.”
Rebecca Kiessling, a pro-life attorney from Michigan, fully understands the controversy over this issue since she was conceived when her mother was raped. But she is opposed to abortion in such cases because she cares for both the child and the mother.
She says that “rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion, with a higher rate of suicide, murder, drug overdose, etc. As someone who really cares about rape victims, I want to protect them from the rapist, and from the abortion, and not the baby. A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is. We need to educate the American public on the truth in this matter and not make public policy based on myth and misinformation.”
Kiessling says that “only 15 to 25 percent of rape victims choose abortion. . . . The majority of rape victims choose to raise her child — not ‘the rapist’s baby’ — HER child.”
While advocates of abortion after rape claim to be helping the victims, just the opposite is true, says Kiessling.
“Rape exceptions in the law actually put the government in the position of having to ascertain when the child was conceived, who the father is, whether the child was conceived during the alleged rape or during intercourse with her husband or boyfriend, and if the child was conceived during the time frame of the alleged rape. Then the government would need to determine whether the sexual intercourse was consensual or not. So rape exceptions serve to perpetuate the injustice against rape victims that their accounts are to be viewed with skepticism, and it further leaves the majority of impregnated rape victims wholly unprotected under the law. Rape exceptions suggest that a ‘real rape victim’ couldn’t possibly love ‘the rapist’s baby’ and that rape-victim mothers don’t exist.”
“I believe that God rewarded my birth mother for the suffering she endured,” says Kiessling, “and that I am a gift to her. The serial rapist is not my creator. God is.”
She is echoed by Julie Makimaa, who was also conceived in rape and now works to convince women that abortion is not the answer in cases of sexual assault. “It doesn’t matter how I began,” Makimaa says. “What matters is who I will become.”
Former rape counselor Sandra Mahkorn, MD, says that “the central issue then should not be whether we can abort all pregnant sexual assault victims, but rather an exploration of the things we can change in ourselves, and through community education, to support such women through their pregnancies. The ‘abortion is the best solution’ approach can only serve to encourage the belief that sexual assault is something for which the victim must bear shame — a sin to be carefully concealed.”
Which is more caring — to tell a rape victim to solve her “problem” by getting rid of her baby, or to respect the life within her and give her the real help she needs?
Those who advocate abortion for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest need to find out what the victims think. They can do this by reading books like Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon and Victims and Victors by Reardon, Julie Makimaa, and Amy Sobie. The latter book contains the testimonies of 192 women who became pregnant as a result of rape (164 victims) or incest (28 victims).
Of the 164 victims of rape, the book said, 73 percent carried the pregnancy to term; of the 28 incest victims, 50 percent had their babies, and 50 percent opted for abortion. The majority of the victims in both categories who had abortions deeply regretted their abortions and said that it was the wrong solution to their pregnancies.
“Notably,” said Sobie and Reardon, “not one of the 133 women who carried their pregnancies to term expressed regret over having giving birth to their children, or a wish that they had chosen abortion instead” (p. 22).
Dr. Reardon points out that studies of “post-abortion women who have not been sexually assaulted occasionally describe the experience of abortion as ‘surgical rape.’ This analogy is not surprising when one considers the actual mechanics of abortion. The woman is prone on her back, her legs spread, with a masked stranger plunging instruments into her sexual organs, painfully and literally sucking life out of her womb. This symbolic reenactment of the rape can hardly be lost on the victim of sexual assault who is still struggling for recovery” (p. 37).
He quotes rape victim “Patricia Ryan,” who wrote: “I was an innocent victim of a horrible crime. I was not to blame for what the rapist did to me. But in choosing to abort, to kill the innocent child growing within me, I lowered myself to the level of the rapist. . . . It only compounded my pain; it didn’t solve anything” (p. 38). She said that “the effects of the abortion are much more far-reaching than the effects of rape in my life” (p. 52).
“Vanessa Landry,” another victim of rape who was coerced into an unwanted abortion, said that a doctor and a social worker pressured her into having an abortion when she wanted to have the baby. After the abortion, she says, “I had a lot of bleeding for two or three weeks. I couldn’t get over it. I suffered a lot of mental anguish. Every time I see somebody with a little baby, I want to go over and hold it. I very much want to have children. I’m over the rape now, but because of the abortion, I’m not able to have any kids” (p. 45).
Abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from incest is even more unjustified since it allows the assaulter to avoid prosecution for incest or statutory rape, perpetuates the “conspiracy of silence” and denial of reality among family members, tosses the victim back into the clutches of the abuser, and prevents her from escaping from a horrendous situation.
“Abortion on demand, no questions asked, makes it easier for incest and child abuse to continue,” said “Mary Jane Doe,” who was sexually abused by her brother. “Abortion for incest victims sounds compassionate, but in practice it is simply another violent and deceptive tool in the hand of the abuser” (p. 119).
Kay Zibolsky, who was impregnated by a rapist and put her daughter, Robin, up for adoption at 18 months, founded the Life After Assault League to minister to victims of sexual assault. She tells women considering abortion that her life “lends credibility to my words. And I say to you victims of sexual assault who may be experiencing pressure to ‘take the easy way out’ by the destructive means of legal abortion, ‘Don’t Yield To That Temptation!’ For your Robin’s sake, and for your own peace of mind, give her something far more precious than anyone else could ever give: Let Her Live!
“You’ll be contributing to this world the selfless kind of love and caring we all so desperately need. And you’ll find joy and fulfillment for yourself in doing it. You can take it from me — I’ve been there” (Healing Hidden Hurts, pp. 7-8).

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