What about abortion in cases of rape and incest? The case for life

In the abortion debate, cases of rape and incest are often brought up as reasons as to why abortion rights are a necessity. It’s always used as somewhat of a trump card for the pro-choice side.

This week, in the wake of Alabama’s new abortion law, I’ve read different testimonies of people who were conceived in rape. It’s tragic that they’re often the poster children for why other children can be aborted. Their worth and lives are so easily cast aside in this discussion, as if it’s just a given that they didn’t have the right to be born because of the circumstances in which they were conceived.

Ryan Bomberger wrote an impassioned piece for Life Site News. The headline says it all. “I was conceived in rape, I’m the 1% they exploit to justify 100% of abortions.” Bomberger concludes his piece by saying, “I am the one percent that is always demonized and exploited. But I’m part of a far larger collective of courageous and compassionate advocates for Life who believe in the radical notion that we all have equal and irrevocable worth regardless of how our lives began.”

Rebecca Kiessling was conceived through rape and later adopted. She’s spoken internationally on the right to life. She’s a lawyer and mother of five. Writing for Life Site News, Kiessling says “Legalizing abortion for rape or other exceptions would send a message to our people group that our lives are worth less than anyone else’s.  Imagine having an exception in cases of Asian babies, Jewish babies, or left-handed babies.  The message sent is that these people are not worthy of living and did not deserve to be protected like everyone else.  There would be an international outcry if such discrimination were even proposed.”

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I recently watched a documentary (top of the post) titled “Conceived in Rape and Other Exceptions.” It includes testimonies of women who conceived children in rape who carried the baby to term, women who conceived babies in incestuous relationships, people who were conceived in rape, and people who were at risk of certain birth defects where abortion was suggested. These stories are also shared on the website conceivedinrape.com.

The stories are touching.

Pam Stenzel was conceived from a rape. She said “My life isn’t worth less than yours just because of the way I was conceived.” Stenzel also brings up that it can be tempting to want an abortion, especially in the early stages of an unplanned pregnancy, because it “seems like the easy way out…the industry of abortion preys on them. We can just make this go away.”

Lianna Rebolledo was just 12 years old when she was raped. But even as a child, she knew she couldn’t terminate the life of her unborn baby. “When I had my baby girl, she gave hope, and she helped me to go on in my life.” Rebolledo went on to say “I cannot imagine being without my daughter. She’s part of me…with all the pain and suffering, if I had to go through that again, I will, just to love my daughter. Because she saved me. And even (though) it was very hard, and it wasn’t easy, I would definitely go through that again.”

Jackie Evans became a mother through incest. “The idea that a woman who is raped has a right to kill a child is completely negative. It doesn’t help the woman and it doesn’t help the baby. A woman is stronger than that.  A woman does not need to be told she should kill a child in order to feel better about what happened…Producing life and producing something positive from a negative experience is very empowering for a woman to do.”

I believe that a baby either has a right to life, or they don’t. If some babies have a right to life, then all babies have a right to life. If it’s “I believe in a baby’s right to life unless” then you don’t really believe in the right to life. Even if a child is conceived through horribly evil circumstances, that doesn’t negate the rights of the child. Even if the child’s father were caught and brought to justice for his crimes, he wouldn’t get a death sentence. But in aborting a child, that’s the punishment the baby has been given.

As brutal and horrible as those crimes are, I don’t believe that a baby should have to pay the price for the sins of another. It doesn’t erase the evil that has happened. It adds to the damage of what the rapist has done. Bringing a new life into the world is in itself a redemptive act. I was struck by how many of these brave women talked about the healing that came through their children.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to subscribe! 

Josh Benner  has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.



Categories: Commentary, Culture, Ethics, Faith, prolife, society

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