This is perhaps the most emotionally compelling argument used by pro-choice advocates in defense of the right to an abortion.
Rape is an absolutely evil act, meaning no possible situation exists morally justifying it.
The pain a raped person endures is deep and long-lasting.
Understanding this, how can the anti-abortion crowd hold it morally impermissible for a woman to obtain an abortion even if she conceived in the violent act of rape?
Let me offer 5 reasons why I believe abortion is morally impermissible even in the case of rape.
Reason #1: As mentioned above, rape is an absolute moral evil, but no necessary logical connection exists between the statement "rape is immoral" and the statement "abortion is moral".
Rape, the violent act of sexual violation, and abortion, the violent act of killing, can both be immoral at the same time and in the same way.
Thus, whether abortion is justified or not, it cannot be justified simply because rape is legitimately awful.
Reason #2: Nothing about being conceived in rape invalidates the right to life of the unborn child.
Human rights are the property of members of human community by virtue of their humanity.
One of those rights, which happens to be enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America, is the right to life, a normal right to live and continue to live.
Thus, if the unborn can be shown to be a full member of the human community, it too would be the rightful property bearer of the right to life and thus not a morally viable candidate for an act like abortion, even if conceived in rape.
Reason #3: A fetus, even one conceived in rape, has some moral claim on her mother's body (despite the invocation of bodily autonomy).
Imagine I am out on my sailboat and an unnamed seafarer passes by me and drops a bassinet with a baby inside of it on the starboard deck.
"It's your responsibility now", he shouts before sailing away.
This unnamed seaman has violated my time and property, by saddling me with something I do not want.
Few would suggest I am now morally obligated to raise this child as my own.
But even fewer would suggest I could justifably throw the baby overboard.
This child, unwanted as it is, has a relative right to not be killed by me, even if not an absolute right to every part of me (the next 18 years of my life spent raising it, etc.).
In the same way, abortion in the case of rape due to bodily autonomy ignores the relative right of the child to not be killed by the woman carrying it, even if she did not consent to taking care of it initially.
Reason #4: While pro-choice advocates often rely on our assumptions about what victims of rape who conceive in rape want, the data suggests we should not assume women who are raped de facto want an abortion or that abortion is necessary to treat the trauma of rape.
For a little background, rape-related pregnancies account for no more than 5% of pregnancies among U.S. women of child-bearing age (1) and 2% of U.S. abortions (2).
It is the case that no study has been able to show that more than 50% of women who conceive in rape elect to abort (3).
This is significant given pro-choice advocates often talk as if the choice to abort her baby conceived in rape is a forgone conclusion for a raped woman.
Furthermore, if someone wants to say factors outside the woman's control may inhibit her ability choose abortion (a true statement), such as late-detection and exorbitant costs, similarly, outside factors may inhibit her ability choose life, like partner abuse or family pressure.
Suffice to say, abortion does not automatically appeal to women conceived in rape.
Reason #5: When a women conceives a child in rape, she and the unborn child are victims.
Yet to make abortion morally allowable because of rape is to treat the fetus worse than the rapist.
In the West, rapists do not generally receive the death penalty for their crimes, so why should an unborn child's life be held in a lower regard?
Indeed, even if we did execute rapists, a practice in some countries, it would not follow that the child, which has committed no crime, should have her right to life abrogated.
Have any more reasons why you believe abortion, even in cases of rape, is wrong? Comment below!
1. "A Natural History of Rape" ; "Rape-related Pregnancy" ; and "Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation" .
2. "Reasons Why Women Have Induced Abortions: Evidence from 27 Countries" [1998 study looking back to 1987 to 1988]; "Induced Abortion Facts in Brief" ; "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions" ; Understanding why women seek abortions in the US .
3. “Sexual Assault and Pregnancy” in Thomas Hulgers, Dennis Horan and David Mall, “New Perspectives on Human Abortion” ; "Victims and Victors" ; "A Natural History of Rape" .