I’m doing a few posts about some of the arguments for legalized abortion from a pro life view point. I want to really look at them, and try to explain why they are not persuasive for someone who supports making abortion illegal.
Other posts in this series:
Abortion Argument 3: It’s my body, my choice! The life of the mother is more important than the potential life of a fetus.
This argument centers on the belief that forcing a woman to carry a baby she does not want full term is not right. She should have the right to end the pregnancy. We should not force a woman to endure the pregnancy. We should not force a woman to be a mother, even if she gives the baby up for adoption. It’s her life, her body, she chooses what to do with it.
One part of this argument, that even a lot of conservatives agree with, centers on cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest and cases that put the life of the mother in danger. Many pro-life conservatives (especially politicians) would give an exception to illegal abortion in these cases.
NCBI said in 1996 that there are over 32,000 pregnancies that result from rape each year.
A book called “Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation: A Multidisciplinary Approach” written by by Hazelwood, Robert R. (Editor)/ Burgess, Ann Wolbert, quotes a 2005 study that 3-5% of rape cases result in pregnancy. It goes on to say that this number may be higher since not all sexual assaults are reported.
Not everyone agrees with these numbers. Some pro-life sources claim numbers that are under 1000 per year. Susan Perry from Minn Post wrote, condemning people who claim that there are not a lot of pregnancies from rape/incest:
“In a 1996 study, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina set out to determine the rape-related pregnancy rate in the United States. They estimated that about 5 percent of rape victims of reproductive age (12 to 45) become pregnant — a percentage that results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year.
“Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the researchers wrote. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”
Four years later, another study, this time conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated that rape led to as many as 25,000 pregnancies in the U.S. each year.
“Pregnancy following rape is a continuing and significant public health issue,” concluded the authors of that study.
Furthermore, in a 2004 national survey of a representative sample of women who had undergone abortions, 1 percent of the women indicated that they had been victims of rape. In addition, slightly less than half a percent said they became pregnant as a result of incest. At the time of that survey, an estimated 1.3 million women were undergoing abortions annually in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The survey thus suggests that each year about 19,500 U.S. abortions are undertaken to end pregnancies that occurred as a result of rape or incest.“
There is definitely a lot of swing in the numbers (1,000-32,000+), but we can all agree that any pregnancy that comes as a result of rape or incest is traumatic for the woman involved. I can’t imagine if someone I loved were forced into this situation.
But we can also agree that if we think the unborn child is a human being, then they are innocent of the crimes of the father. I know that many women may not be able to live with the knowledge that they are carrying the child caused by this brutal assault. I see that. It’s that fact that causes many pro life people to make exceptions for rape and incest.
As for the life of the mother, even if we hold (as I do) that the unborn child is a human being; if the life of the mother is threatened, then the mother should have the option to abort. No one can make another person risk their life for anyone else. If I’m walking along a cliff and see someone hanging off, about to fall, I should not be legally compelled to put my life in danger to try to save that person.
I respect the decision of any woman who is faced with the choice of their life or the child’s. I hope I never have to walk through that choice with my family.
But that’s about the only exception I can definitely agree to. A young women who just doesn’t want to carry the child, or maybe it’s inconvenient timing… I’m sorry but sex sometimes causes pregnancy. If you make the choice to have unprotected sex, then you might get pregnant. Those of us that believe the child is a human being even in the womb will never excuse killing that baby for convenience.
The whole “it’s my body” argument fails flat when you realize that from conception that little child has 23 different chromosomes and different DNA, it’s a different person. You gave up some of your rights the moment you became pregnant. (I’m stealing my thunder for the next argument)
I know we live in a world that glorifies sex and sexual identity. We live in a world that encourages sexual experimentation and sexual freedom. The freedom to have sex when you want with who you want has consequences. One of those might be unplanned pregnancy. If you are not ready to accept that, don’t have sexual intercourse. That is your choice, and that is when you have the power over your body.
But once that child is conceived, you are no longer responsible for just your own body. A choice was made that brought a new person into being. That little baby is just as much a human as anyone already born. What you do to it isn’t something you do to your own body. Abortion kills a human being. Abortion doesn’t kill part of the woman’s body, doesn’t remove an unwanted chunk of cells. It kills a person.
For the pro life person, the baby is a human being from conception. And the argument that the woman’s body is hers to do with as she wants falls flat if you believe that the unborn baby is a complete person. And the argument that the mother’s life is more important that the baby’s life doesn’t work either. Both the mother and child are people. I believe they both have value if for no other reason than they are both made in the image of God. For one to kill the other because she doesn’t want to be pregnant is wrong.
Coming soon: Abortion Argument 4: It’s not really a child. It’s not human yet, just a bunch of cells/tissue.