What about "rape?" (continued):UNWISE. What advice should be given a rape victim in the most traumatic time of her life? In most cases where there is a pregnancy, the victim did not report to a hospital for help; she kept it to herself. For several weeks, she has thought of little else. Now, she has finally asked for help, has shared her upsetting story, and is in a very vulnerable, frightening situation. Her main questions are: "What should I do now? Should I carry the baby or have an abortion?" Is abortion her best option (or as many see it-her only option)?
When pregnancy follows rape, victims need moral support, financial help, frank understanding, and sheltering by caring family/friends, and assistance from a fair government. Abortion should not be counseled.
Why? First, two wrongs do not make a right. There is no way to ignore God's words: "...no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 Jn. 3:15). The trauma has already occurred. She has been raped. She will live with that fact regardless of whether she has an abortion or not. She has been the victim of one violent act. Should we now ask her to be a party to a second violent act? Many would counsel her to return violence (killing a baby) for violence (rape) (cf. Mt. 5:38-41). Will she be able to live comfortably with the memory that she had an abortion? Would she ultimately be more at peace with herself if she could remember that, even though she became pregnant unwillingly, she nevertheless solved her problem by being unselfish, by returning love for hate. Compare this memory with the woman who can only look back and say, "I killed my baby." One study concluded, "We found the rape experience is forgotten (what he did), replaced by remembering the abortion, because it is what they did."
Second, abortion is unwise because abortion can be dangerous to the mother. This is true physically. Unsuccessful second pregnancies occur more than twice as often among those who have had abortions. Dr. John Wilke explains that in the first and third trimesters, a woman who has had a previous abortion is two times more likely to have a miscarriage and in the second trimester is ten times more likely. Further, her baby is two times more likely to die after birth than a baby of a mother who has not had an abortion. Other dangers include premature births, tubal pregnancies, loss of interest in sexual activity, damage to the reproductive organs, intractable hemorrhages, pelvic pain, infertility, severe emotional and psychiatric problems, and even death.
Abortion is also dangerous to the mother emotionally. Many feel serious emotional pain after having had an abortion. In recent years it has become clear that women who had abortions after rape can suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome. A national research project on PAS included these statements from women who had obtained abortions (reason for abortion not given):
- "It affected my relationship with my children because I emotionally pushed them away-I felt I didn't deserve them;"
- "I would go to the cemetery wondering what they did with my baby;"
- "Initially I also felt a sense of relief that it was all over. But it was a strange brand of relief that did everything relief should, except make me feel any better."
A woman who aborted a "rape" baby can carry the same burdens of guilt, denial, and depression that a woman who aborted a "love" baby often does. Why is this? At least two dynamics seem obvious. Rape was something done to her. She was not responsible. She was the innocent victim of another's violence. By contrast, the abortion was done by her. She agreed to it. It was her decision to solicit the second act of violence. And she comes to see it as her own unborn child. The newly-conceived baby is certainly the "rapist's child," but he or she is also her child-half of the new baby's genetic material came from her.
UNFAIR. Let's look at it this way. Do we punish other criminals by killing their children? The innocent baby committed no crime. He should not bear punishment for the crimes of his father (Ezek. 18:4, 20). Just as there are lasting emotional consequences of this violent crime, when pregnancy follows, there are physical consequences as well. Our philosophy of judgment seems terribly unequal at this point. Our courts have declared capital punishment for rapists to be cruel and inhumane. The guilty father only gets a few years' punishment, and often gets nothing but a slap on the wrist. But we execute capital punishment on the innocent baby!
There is no happy solution to every problem pregnancy, but evidence of concern from society for both mother and child, positive support, and financial assistance is more humane. It may surprise you that a rape victim's chief complaint is not that she got pregnant. The most common complaint is "how other people treat her." The most frequently cited factors that make it difficult to continue her pregnancy are other's opinions, attitudes, and beliefs (in other words, how her family, friends, and associates treat her). This should cause us to reflect and consider. Do we try to understand her trauma, and love and support her more because of it? Or, do we avoid her because "we don't know what to say." Do we act as if it was partly her fault, or that she "just made it up?" If all such victims were given generous love and support, perhaps many more would carry their babies to term.
Links to this entire series:
by Allen Webster
- Abortion Wrongs: Part 1
- Abortion Wrongs: Part 2
- Abortion Wrongs: Part 3
- Abortion Wrongs: Part 4
- Abortion Wrongs: Part 5