The Rape Exception
The Rape Exception
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Written by Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director, Students for Life of America

I remember when I was a “newbie” pro-lifer. I had accepted the basic premises of our movement: that life begins at conception, that life is intrinsically valuable, and that abortion hurts women and families, not just children. However, as most “new” pro-lifers often believe, I thought abortion in the case of rape and incest was morally “okay.” I didn’t like saying abortion was ever “okay,” but I knew that saying abortion is always wrong, even in cases of rape and incest, would make me sound like an extremist who didn’t care about women and that wasn’t me. I had gotten into the pro-life movement to help women not hurt them.

Today, many of the students our team members work with are new to the pro-life movement and are just beginning to think about these difficult issues and how being pro-life means they will have a different response. The day that a person accepts that the pre-born human child is intrinsically valuable and should not be thrown away in an abortion, is the day they will have to start thinking about some tough things.

It has now been over a decade since I chose to be “pro-life,” and my view of abortion is those most awful of circumstances, rape and incest, is different. I’m opposed to all abortions. And let me share with you, not shout at you, about how I got here and I hope it helps you when making your own decisions:

  • Being “pro-life” means that at the moment of fertilization you believe an unique whole, living human person is created. Thus abortion, no matter what the tragic circumstances, is always wrong because it is the deliberate killing of an innocent unique, whole, living pre-born human being.

  • I have met and become friends with people who were conceived during a rape. These adults were once pre-born children at the mercy of their traumatized mother. I don’t see these friends as less human, less of person, less valuable because of who their father was.

  • As pro-lifers, we believe that all human life should be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what your parentage may be. If my father goes out today and commits an act of mass murder, does that justify someone killing me? If the mother, a victim or rape, chooses to carry her child through her pregnancy and then decides at age 2 that the child reminds her too much of the rapist, should she be then allowed to kill the toddler?

  • Pope John Paul II wrote, “Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create. Violence and war can never resolve the problems of men.” It is insensitive to say to a woman who has been raped that the horrific violence of rape can be eased or erased by simply aborting the child convinced during the rape. One act of violence cannot erase another.

  • Our abortion society has pitted a woman against her child instead of a woman against her rapist.

  • Pregnancies resulting from rape are extremely rare and are used by those on the other side to advocate for abortion for any reason, in all nine-months of pregnancy, funded by U.S. taxpayers. The other side uses this tragedy, this act of war against a woman, as a red herring, to promote their radical agenda. Read from one physician about how rare pregnancy from rape really is and how almost half of all women who become pregnant because of rape choose to allow their child to live HERE

Now, there are some anti-abortion advocates and many politicians who are opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Even though I disagree with their rape and incest stances, I don’t believe in attacking these folks, because I just see them at a different place down the “pro-life path.” I believe pro-life politicians today especially feel they must say abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest because of the 15-second media culture we live in. Talking about the horrific violence of rape and the personhood of all human beings in a way that is compassionate and sensitive to all cannot be achieved in a 15-second sound byte.

Before we end all abortions, our movement must do more to educate Americans and ourselves about the personhood of all human beings, only then will politics and policies follow.

Originally posted on September 4, 2012 at

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