Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rebecca Kiessling and the rape/incest argument for abortion rights

We've all heard someone say: "I'm pro-life, well, except in cases of rape ..." or "I'm pro-choice, especially in cases of rape!"

Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, "I think your mother should have been able to abort you"? It's like saying, "If I had my way, you'd be dead right now." And that is the reality with which I live every time someone says they are pro-choice or pro-life "except in cases of rape" because I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts. But I know that most people don't put a face to this issue -- abortion is just a concept -- with a quick cliche, they sweep it under the rug and forget about it.

I do hope that, as a child conceived in rape, I can help to put a face and a voice to this issue.

-- Rebecca Kiessling
Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted; now she's a mother, attorney and international pro-life speaker. She recently shared her story at prolifeunity.com. It is definitely worth checking out. Those living today who were conceived by rape -- and who, according to even many pro-life politicians, should have been allowed to be aborted -- are perhaps the most emotionally powerful response to the rape/incest argument for abortion rights.

Here's what I wrote about the rape/incest argument in the January '09 issue of MCCL News.

Women who become pregnant against their will as a result of rape or incest are often used as an emotional appeal for the legality of abortion. In these "hard cases," the pro-abortion side has the upper hand of public opinion. Even most pro-life political leaders support legal abortion in cases of rape and incest.

Pro-lifers must be prepared to address this concern when it arises and to apply their pro-life principles to difficult circumstances. Three points are crucial.

First, the vast majority of abortions are not performed because of rape or incest. In Minnesota, less than one percent of women who had abortions in 2007 reported that the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Nationwide, these cases account for less than two percent of all abortions. To any abortion advocate who offers the rape argument, I ask: "So do you agree with me, then, that all the other abortions -- 99 percent of them -- should not be allowed?" I would be thrilled to find such common ground.

More often, though, an abortion advocate appeals to the hard cases in order to mask his abortion-on-demand position. Always make him defend his real view.

Second, if the pro-life position is true, abortion because of rape or incest is unjust. Why? Because the circumstances of a child’s conception clearly have no bearing on her moral status as a human being. While a rapist must be severely punished for his crime, the unborn child remains innocent.

In the case of rape/incest abortions, a valuable human being is intentionally killed for elective reasons -- e.g., because the survival of the child would be psychologically traumatic for the mother. But it is wrong to dismember someone because she stirs memories of a painful event. Put another way: Why should the innocent child die for the crime of her father?

Third, having an abortion typically does nothing to relieve the pain of the mother. In a lengthy study on the pregnancies of sexual assault victims, researchers David Reardon, Julie Makimaa and Amy Sobie concluded: "Pregnancy resulting from sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion .... Both the mother and child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence."

Indeed, "Abortion only adds to and accentuates the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault. Rather than easing the psychological burdens, abortion adds to them." These findings undermine the reasons given for rape/incest abortion in the first place!

Rape and abortion are wrong for the same reason: the brutal, dehumanizing treatment of an innocent human person. That’s why abortion in cases of rape or incest makes no moral sense.