Recently, I was caught off guard during a conversation. It had been an eventful week at one of our Prestonwood Pregnancy Center locations, and I was grieving for one of our clients, whom I will call “Janie” to protect her privacy. I was sharing with another person the story of this young woman’s sexual assault, awful home life, brokenness over her crisis pregnancy and how I just wanted to scoop her up and take her home with me.
It was a sad situation. The type that sticks to your soul and brings you to prayer and tears every time you think about it. A situation that forever changes the lives of the victim and those who walk alongside her through the crisis.
After I finished explaining Janie’s situation, I was shocked when the person said, “I just don’t think she should have the baby. Abortion might be the kindest choice.”
Now, I’ve had these kinds of conversations before. This one, however, truly surprised me because that comment came from someone who claims to be pro-life.
If I’m being honest, there are those who say they are pro-life but struggle to answer the question, “But what about abortion in the case of rape or incest?” In fact, a 2011 Gallup poll showed that 59 percent of pro-lifers supported fetal termination when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
In the Bible, we see God’s heart for the voiceless, innocent and defenseless — unborn children are the epitome of those things. Psalm 82:3-4 instructs us to “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (ESV).
We are to speak for these unborn children, stand for them and defend them (see Proverbs 24:11-12; 31:8-9 and Matthew 18:14). We cannot be pro-life and have exceptions.
So how do you answer the question, “But what about abortion in the case of rape or incest?”
I’ve been asked this many times, and I believe God has laid this response on my heart: trauma doesn’t fix trauma.
Trauma takes place when a woman has an abortion. The consequences of her choice are experienced physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That is documented truth.
And no one denies that rape is a vile act of violence against another person — one with long-lasting effects. That is also documented truth.
The lie that’s been sold is if a woman has an abortion, she can just “get on with her life” and start getting over the victimization. The belief is her child will be a lifelong reminder of the rapist.
Yet abortion is not the answer. A woman who survives a sexual assault needs counsel, time and unconditional love. She needs to know she has an unwavering support system. She also needs to know she has a God who can restore her soul and rebuild her dreams.
I could list all the pro-life apologetic answers regarding the issues of rape and incest here, but there are people far smarter than me who can address your deeper questions. What I do have to offer you are real-life stories. Stories of women who are my heroes. Women who overcame horrific situations and chose life. Like Janie, who was raped, beaten, and then raped again.
She came to us five weeks later, and she was pretty sure she was pregnant. We shared the love of Christ with her, cried with her, prayed over her, and waited for the test results.
She was pregnant.
Her “support system” told her she should end the pregnancy. They told her she shouldn’t have to endure even the thought that she was now pregnant by her rapist. They meant well.
In search of more support, Janie joined the family of over 100,000 women served at Prestonwood Pregnancy Center, 86% of which choose life. She visited us several times and as she received professional counseling, she found strength she didn’t know she had.
Praise Jesus, this brave young woman listened to the small, quiet voice whispering in her ear, “It is not this child’s fault. You are strong. You can do this.”
Janie is now raising her child, and she loves him with all her heart. Those who told her to abort have come to understand that her son is a blessing. The way he was conceived is awful. However, this boy is not made in the image of a rapist but in God’s image.
Janie’s story could have ended very differently. She could now be seeking counseling for her rape and also for her abortion. She could be left with many questions of “What if?” She could be living with regret over taking another person’s life. Yet, she has found healing in her relationship with Jesus and the gift of her son.
Our God is in the restoration business. If you have experienced sexual abuse or assault or are struggling with a past choice, please know that God freely offers you healing. All you need to do is accept it.
Leanne Jamieson is the Executive Director of Prestonwood Pregnancy Center, a ministry of Prestonwood Baptist Church. The pregnancy center has locations in Richardson and Dallas, Texas, as well as a mobile sonogram unit that serves the DFW Metroplex.