A Devil’s Advocate

Thanks to a high school friend of mine, Karen, for responding to my recent blog post on a rather peculiar argument against pro-life advocacy.  Karen is most definitely pro-life, but she raises the standard response/objection to any blanket call for the elimination of abortion and an emphasis on the woman’s responsibility to exercise her true choice – the choice whether or not to engage in intercourse.  I wanted to address this issue more visibly, so I’m making this into a post rather than a response to her comment on that previous post.

Karen writes:

So, Paul, I’m playing devil’s advocate here because I don’t believe in abortion. However, you state that a woman’s right to choose ends at her decision to choose to engage in sexual activity. How does rape play into that argument? Obviously, a woman who is raped did not choose to engage in that sexual activity. Should anyone have the right tell her that she must carry that baby to term (by making abortion illegal)?

This is the classic objection – a woman is forced into non-consensual sex which results in a pregnancy.  It’s a compelling argument at the emotional level.  You have a woman who is clearly the victim of a terrible crime.  Now she is burdened with ten months of bearing a child and giving birth, a constant, daily reminder of the tragedy she was subjected to.  It hardly sounds fair. 

And it’s not. 

The above statements are all true.  Rape is a terrible crime.  Women can and are the victims of this sort of crime.  It is not their fault.  It is truly not fair that they bear the additional burden of bringing a child to term that they never asked for, and may have had no choice in the matter. 

Now that we have those statements out of the way, now that we’ve addressed the truly emotionally charged nature of this objection, let’s think through it.

First off, the statistics on how many abortions are related to a proven rape are low.  Even classic abortions-rights people tend to shy away from this argument for the legality and necessity of abortion on demand because it just happens too infrequently.  Some fascinating information on related studies here.   This is another interesting article, but I don’t see the supporting documentation so I can’t recommend it as definitive – and it appears to have a definite bias which further needs to be acknowledged.  Another interesting but definitely pro-life article is here.   For those of you who like Wikipedia, here’s what they have to say on the subject.   Frankly, it’s hard to find definitive statistics from sources that are pro-abortion.  The frequently cited percentage of abortions performed that are related to rape is 1%.  The first article takes issue with this, but does so on speculative grounds. 

But let’s ignore that for a moment, because this ultimately isn’t a percentages argument.  It’s a human argument, and we need to have an answer that not only pro-lifers can live with, but that the woman who has been victimized by rape and is now pregnant by that rape can live with. 

My argument would go something like this.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Basic, easy to remember.  If the baby inside that woman’s body is truly a human baby, then aborting the baby is the equivalent of murder.  Murder is every bit as wrong as rape.  If the mother thinks that she will somehow have more peace about what has happened to her by killing the unborn child inside of her, she is mistaken.  I have no doubt that she may not want that baby.  I have no doubt that bearing that baby is going to be emotionally painful for her as well as physically costly.  She is already emotionally and physically traumatized.  Aborting the baby does not negate that, but only furthers the trauma in both realms.

I am a Christian.  I believe that every baby is a gift of God, even if it is a gift that was unanticipated or unwanted.  We are not the arbiters of when a baby is a good thing – a baby is *always* a good thing.  The woman who is the victim of rape can reject the violence and degradation that was foisted upon her to a certain degree by carrying through with the very positive and life-affirming act of bearing the child to term.  She may not decide to keep the baby – there are plenty of loving couples who would be happy to adopt that baby, and who would also be willing to come alongside the mother during her pregnancy, to provide support and encouragement and love, as well as to assist with the financial realities of bearing a child.  Some women do choose to keep the baby themselves. 

Life is good.  Always.  Taking a life is bad, always.  Sometimes it may be a necessary bad thing – to administer justice, to defend oneself, etc.  But taking an innocent life cannot be a positive act, even if that innocent life is costly to the mother in terms of time, energy, physical and emotionally.  I believe that God can work powerful joy and healing through the process of pregnancy, and that this should be affirmed always – regardless of how the pregnancy came to be from our perspective.  Is it fair to the woman?  No.  Not at all.  Does the unfairness of that dictate that she should have the right to terminate the life inside of her?  No, it does not.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  There are many people who suffer grave injustices every day.  There are many people who suffer unfairly in a myriad of ways because of the actions of others.  The response in those situations is always to come alongside the one who is suffering, who has been marginalized, who is dealing with the very real unfairness of their situation.  We come along to support, to encourage. 

I look forward to responses on this.  I have used this argument before with people, and I am always open to a perspective I haven’t considered before.  Women deserve to be loved and respected and treated with equality – and so do the unborn children that they bear.

One Response to “A Devil’s Advocate”

  1. krasnobykow Says:

    the author is absolutely right agree with every word

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