Pro-Life Answer to the Rape Question

Order SFLA’s Rape Exemption thought postcards to hand out on your campus here.

Most people, including many pro-life individuals, avoid the question of whether abortion is ok in the cases of rape. Often times, they admit exceptions to rape, incest and the health of the mother, but are those really exceptions to the rule?

While a majority of pregnancies are the result of consensual sex, rape-based pregnancies present a unique dilemma. If a woman did not choose to engage in sex in the first place, why should she have to carry to term a child that was the result of her forced union?

First consider why you are against most abortions. Is it because an abortion takes the life of an innocent baby? If so, do the circumstances of a child’s conception change the fact that he or she is a living preborn person?

Let’s add a hypothetical situation to this question. Suppose a woman conceived a child in rape and decided to carry her child to term and raise her son herself. After five years, however, she decides that the little boy’s presence in her life is too much of a burden. He looks too much like his biological father. Should that mother have the right to kill her five year-old son?

Obviously not. No matter what the circumstances are regarding the little boy’s conception, he is a human being with a right to life that cannot be taken away. But what about before this child is born, does anything change? No. Abortion is an act of violence that kills a living human being. The circumstances surrounding conception do not change that reality.

If you found out your best friend was conceived in rape, would you view her differently? If not, isn’t that an unfair double standard? If a child, conceived in rape, has a right to live once he is born, then shouldn’t he be protected before birth?

Look at the pictures above. Do any of the pictures look like the face of a monster? What if each of them had a rapist father? Would that change your view of them? Should a child die for the crimes of his or her parent?

Rape and incest are horrific wrongs. A woman, violated in a sexual assault should be surrounded by love and support. If that assault results in pregnancy, aren’t there now two people affected by the assault? Two people in need of protection and care?

The perpetrator must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but does the helpless child, who is guilty of no crime, deserve death? Is the violent act of abortion a good solution to the violent act of rape?

The emotional effects of rape on the woman must be addressed. Will her grief or memories of the rape disappear with her child she aborts? Aborting a child conceived through rape simply extends this pattern of violence and victim-hood. It does not “unrape” the woman, but it will most certainly increase her regret and misery.

Rape is an act of violence for which she bears no responsibility, the abortion is an act of violence for which she would be morally culpable. Abortion is not a healing or compassionate procedure for the mother or her child, and will not erase the rape.

Personal Stories:

Rebecca Kiessling, was conceived in rape. Her mother carried her to term and put her up for adoption. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she discovered her story. You can hear her amazing story below:

Ryan Bomberger’s mother was raped in 1971. She made a self-less choice in choosing life for her son. Six weeks after he was born, she placed him for adoption and he grew up in a loving family of 13! 10 of the 13 children were adopted. Since then, he has gone on to touch countless lives through adoption and foster care advocacy. You can read his story here, and watch his video below:

Consider another conceived in rape story from the following email, which came, unsolicited, to

I just wanted to say that I am so pleased to read your stance on abortion in the case of rape. My mother was a 14-year-old girl who was raped, and she tried to have an abortion. The only reason I am alive today is because the doctor miscalculated her due date and thought she was too far in the pregnancy to have the abortion, when in reality he was a month off (this actually happened twice). It pains me every time I hear even die hard pro-lifers say “except in the case of rape”. I know it is traumatizing for a girl or woman that is raped to have to carry a child, but it is no more traumatizing than someone who gets shot during a violent attack and has to deal with those wounds. Counseling and therapy can help heal the trauma, but the trauma will be there whether she has the abortion or not, and the abortion could even make it worse. It has caused me so much anxiety over the years to think that many pro-lifers would have approved of my mother’s abortion. By the way, she gave me up for adoption, and my adoptive parents were never able to have children. Thank you so much for this wonderful view against abortion even in the case of rape.

That’s the perspective of someone conceived through rape, but what about a mother who was the victim of rape? Here is a portion of another email received:

I am the single mother of a beautiful, fun-loving, bright young woman of 16 years of age.  This Easter we celebrated the 17th anniversary of her conception.  Raped by an acquaintance, my first consideration was abortion even though I had spoken out against it all my life… I considered abortion until I [determined it wasn’t] the right thing.  I perused adoption and chose parents to give my baby to.  I changed my mind and chose motherhood.  I have provided, educated, clothed, fed, nursed, counseled, encouraged, and loved with all my heart the daughter of a man who violated the last virtue I was cherishing, my virginity… When interviewed about my experience several years ago, I was asked what I would a tell a young woman contemplating an abortion.  After some careful consideration and a determination never to water down the truth I replied, “It is the hardest thing in the world to choose what you know is right. Being a single parent is no more easy than living with the haunting memory of aborting your child. No matter how hard you wish, either way your life will never be the same. Both have their pains and their struggles, however, only one choice afforded me a profound peace… Never have we been in want.  Never have I regretted my choice.  The scars of my experience have been healed… we show no signs of lack nor neglect…

Whenever abortion advocates bring up this question of rape, they are being disingenuous. The fact is, they think mothers should have the right to kill their unborn children no matter what the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy might be. They only ask about the “12 year-old girl forced to carry her father’s baby” because they know they cannot win the abortion debate. If it is not legitimate to kill a person conceived in rape after they’re born, then it is no more legitimate to kill that same person before they’re born. The question is humanity, not rape.

Read some additional thoughts about the rape exemption from the SFLA President here.

In November of 2012, Students for Life of America co-hosted a panel discussion about rape and abortion called “What About Rape?” The event was co-hosted by the University of St. Thomas Celts for Life pro-life group and featured Ryan Bomberger of and Dr. Donna Harrison of American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Watch it below: