The 2012 elections brought focus on banning abortions for the "hard cases" of rape, incest and where the mother's life is at stake. Reporters were eager to corner candidates and push on the issue of rape abortions and their legality in particular. Rape became the "gotcha" question of the 2012 election cycle. And, unfortunately, several "pro-life" candidates fell into giving some very bad answers that cost them their elections.
It is odd that the media frequently ask about abortion in cases of rape because that issue isn't even relevant to our current public policy debates, which are instead about issues like taxpayer funding of abortion, late-term and sex-selection abortion, etc. The media never ask about those issues. But the question of rape still must be addressed.
The facts concerning abortion and rape seemed to get washed away in the noise of the campaigns. Now that the campaign charges and counter charges have subsided, let's look at some facts.
Of the 11,071 abortions that were performed in Minnesota in 2011, less than one percent were cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. According to the Abortion Report issued by the Minnesota Department of Health every July 1st, never has the total number of abortions for rape, incest and life of the mother topped one percent. To be exact, the 2011 Abortion Report stated that there were 51 abortions performed because of rape and 11 where the pregnancy was the result of incest.
Although 99 percent of all abortions are done for reasons other than rape or incest, these are cases of serious violent crime that need to be addressed and discussed.
There are three very important steps that should be taken when a rape has occurred:
- The individual who has been raped needs to get away from the rapist if at all possible. Those who rape often rape again, so it is critical to get physically away from the rapist.
- The raped individual needs to seek medical attention (without washing) immediately. Emergency medical facilities are equipped with rape kits that can be used to collect evidence for future justice.
- The victim needs to identify/name the perpetrator to law enforcement officials as soon as possible so they can apprehend the rapist. Rape is an act of violence and it won't end if the perpetrator is not apprehended.
In 2007 the Minnesota Legislature passed MN Statute Sec. 145.4712 that mandates emergency contraceptives be provided and/or initiated to victims of rape. Minnesota is one of only 16 states across the nation that has such a mandate.
MCCL has long held that unborn children have a right to life, regardless of the circumstances of their conception. An abortion added to rape only brings more trauma, more pain and more scars to a very violent and tragic situation.
The political landscape in Minnesota is very diverse and MCCL has supported and worked with pro-life candidates of both parties – those candidates who allow exceptions for those rare abortions in the cases of rape and incest and those who do not allow exceptions.
For candidates on both sides of the exceptions divide, it is best to get up to speed on the facts concerning rape and abortion and to bring some compassion and understanding to the discussion. And for reporters, it would be wise to bring a little less "heat" and a lot more "light" to a very sensitive topic. "Gotcha" politics serve no one.