A Sensitive Response to Rape
It's difficult to have a smart and sensitive conversation about the vicious reality of rape and its consequences and not an oversimplified conversation of sound bites, or one that's been watered down so as not to offend. Recently, the subject of rape, and conception following rape, has been the center of politically charged debates sparking hostile discussion between national figures and political pundits. Of course, this has offered pro-abortion advocates a foothold by which to advance their life-ending agenda.
Among them is Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, author of the Washington Times article, "Pregnancy from rape is not 'God's will.'" In her piece, Thistlethwaite claims that the abortion option (or "ethical agency" as she refers to it) following rape should be encouraged, because removing that option will only add to a victim's pain, preventing her recovery.
I agree with Thistlethwaite, that rape is a violent crime and never God's intention. But this conversation is not that simple. It's more of a theological discussion about the sovereignty of God amidst all things, even extreme evil like 9/11 or the holocaust or rape. Christians believe that God is sovereign in all circumstances and that one person's evil act doesn't give us the right to inflict harm on a completely separate and innocent, living person. The child is innocent of its beginnings, whether through love or violence. Psalm 139: 13-14 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful."
No, it's not simple.
The numbers, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, show that abortions due to rape or incest are an extremely small percentage of the total number of abortions, only 1% for rape and incest. Although a small percent, it is important not to compound these horrific situations by adding to the trauma and physical harm. At the time of the crime, the immediate focus must be on healing for the woman. Aborting her baby, which was the result of a crime, actually adds to the emotional and physical harm to the mother.
In 2010, the Elliot Institute surveyed 192 women who conceived during a rape or incest (164 women were raped and 28 were victims of incest). Of those victims, 69% carried the baby to term and either raised the child or made an adoption plan, 29% had an abortion, and 1.5% had a miscarriage. They found that nearly 80% of the women who aborted said that abortion was the wrong solution; 43% of these women said they felt pressure to abort from family members or health workers.
As Christians, we live every day in a fallen world and must deal with the painful consequences of evil acts such as rape, murder, theft, and deception. No, sin was never God's intention. But the creation of a life that might one day be used to spread the Gospel or show God's love by helping others is still a miracle that deserves our reverence and protection.
My beautiful friend Jan said it well, "As the child that was placed for adoption as the result of a rape, I know life is precious no matter how it happens. I believe that!" Jan has been able to thank her birth mother for life and then honor her by adopting a beautiful son with special needs.
Among the one percent of babies born as a result of rape is James Robison, an American evangelist. Robison's biological mother was 40 years old when she was raped and conceived a child. Instead of choosing to add to her emotional and physical pain by aborting her child, Robison's mother placed an ad in a Houston newspaper asking that a Christian couple care for her baby boy. A pastor and his wife noticed the ad and adopted Robison, who later, alongside his wife Betty, started the international ministry Life Outreach International.
Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Campaign, too, is among the one percent. Ryan shared his personal account in an honest op-ed for LifeSiteNews, titled, "I was Conceived in Rape. Did I Deserve to be Aborted?" In it, Ryan thanks his birth mother for her decision to offer him life, writing, "My birth mother's courage to endure nine months of a traumatic pregnancy has had reverberations she never could have known. Adopted into a loving multi-racial family of 15 and now an adoptive father myself, I cannot ever express my gratitude to a woman who helped to defy the myth of the 'unwanted.'"
Just as God does not value the children born out of rape any less, He does not abandon a woman raped, but instead offers her healing and justice. As Christians, we too must remember to show the same love and compassion to women in crisis.
Those who are intellectually honest can understand this struggle and the morally bankrupt argument of those who support no legal limits on abortion. This point was made in a recent Washington Post editorial by Melissa Henneberger, a rape survivor and accomplished reporter. Melissa laid herself emotionally bare in one of the most poignant pieces I've read discussing rape. Melissa stepped outside of the boundaries of hostile debate by relating to other women who have been traumatized by rape. These women are precious, and Melissa encouraged them to continue on bravely and seek justice by reporting their rape. Melissa and other victims should receive the justice they deserve. Melissa still waits. Please join me in prayer for her and others.
Honestly, the question of abortion in the case of rape and incest is the most difficult part of being pro-life. It should be because we need to always grapple with philosophical belief and how those beliefs impact the real world. The recent political grandstanding of the Left on the issue of abortion and rape are insidious and dishonest. I really wish the same people would put that kind of emotion behind efforts to force the government to clean up the backlog of DNA testing for rape kits. It's outrageous, but that's another op-ed.
The bottom line is that abortion is the most cynical answer a society can offer to any crisis.
Somewhere in this country there is a scared young woman who may be contemplating whether or not to report her rape or questioning what to do about the unintended pregnancy of the child that is a result of her attack. For the sake of us all, let's pray that she chooses to seek justice and offer her innocent child a chance at life. But regardless of her choice, we must pray for her!