Rape, Incest, and the Life of the Mother

In this third article, we will examine argument made by anti-life advocates that abortion should be legal in the cases where the child is a result of rape or incest or is a threat to the mother’s health. Before we deal with these objections, we ought to point out that the percentage of abortions as a result of rape or incest is very low, so even if we grant the legitimacy of these abortions (which we do not) the vast majority of abortions would be unjustified.

Let us consider the rape and incest first. How, exactly, does the way a pregnancy started change the morality of killing the unborn child? If you accept the Scriptural claim that the unborn child is a person made in the image of God, then to kill him/her would be murder. The fact that the child was the result of rape does not change it. Either the unborn child is a person made in the image of God in which case killing it is murder, or it is a clump or morally insignificant cells in which case killing it is no more morally significant than removing a wart. Christians have no other option here – we cannot simultaneously hold that the unborn child is a person and yet that abortion is morally justified in the case of rape or incest. In this case, the saying is true; two wrongs don’t make a right.

At this point those who claim to be Christians and yet are tempted to follow the line of argumentation that justifies abortion in the case of rape need to step back and ask themselves, “Why do I believe rape is wrong?” The answer must be rooted in Scripture. Rape is wrong because it is against the law of God; it violently violates the God given rights of the victim. It is not wrong because we dislike it, it is not wrong because society says it is, it is wrong absolutely and objectively because it goes against the character of God; any other answer fails to do justice to its evil. However, when we as Christians grant this we must then accept the same form of moral reasoning for abortion – it is not wrong because we dislike it, it is not wrong because society might say it is, it is wrong because it goes against the character and word of God. We cannot stand on the word of God to state that rape is an utterly reprehensible and wicked act and then step off to justify murdering unborn children. The party punishable in the case of rape is not the unborn child, but the wicked aggressor.

The last case of the life of the mother is undoubtedly the most difficult, for here we are, supposedly, forced to choose between the life of the mother and the life of the child. I say “supposedly” because I remain unconvinced the there is any case in which abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. There are cases in which emergency medical procedures may be necessary to save the life of the mother and may indirectly lead to the death of the unborn child, but in these cases the child’s death is a tragic consequence but not the aim of the medical procedure. In such cases where the life of the mother is in jeopardy everything should be done to save both the life of the mother and the life of the child, but if these cannot be simultaneously saved it is better to save the mother than to loose both her life and the life of the child. This is not inconsistent with the biblical pro-life position provided that there is no way to save both the child’s life and the mother’s life.

Conclusion

We began this article series specifically addressing Christians, and we will end this way. If you are a Christian, that is, if you have trusted in Christ alone for salvation and follow His word alone as the only supreme and sufficient authority – you cannot be ambivalent about abortion. You cannot fall for the trap of saying, “It’s a complex issue,” and standing by while thousands of unborn children are murdered every day. Let me remind you that it is not the judgment of this culture that we should fear, but the judgment of God. Each one of us will stand before His throne on the last day and give an account for what we have done (Revelation 20:11-14, Matthew 16:27, Romans 2:6, 14:12). What excuse will we have for standing by? What excuse will we have for simply not spending the time necessary to study what the Bible says about the status of the unborn? How pale “It’s a complex issue” will look on that day.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Rape, Incest, and the Life of the Mother

  1. I pretty much agree with you on rape. I pretty agree with you at this time on incest since we can do genetic screenings to determine if the child will have an actual life. Death of the mother though, that’s where we disagree. If there’s a truly reasonable chance that she will die if she attempts to carry her child to term, I’m not going to say that she must do so any more than I would I say to wit hold lethal force in a situation that is the more common, violent nonoccurence of justifiable homicidal.

    Like

    1. What do you mean by your comment on a child having an “actual life”?

      I am no medical doctor, but I believe it is the case that in most instances where the life of the mother is endangered by her pregnancy, a C-section is the best way to save her, not an abortion. That being said, it is definitely the most difficult case because we are (at least theoretically) forced to choose between two lives, instead of between a life and someone’s choice to end that life – as in all other cases of abortion.

      Like

      1. By an “actual life” I meant having the capacity to live and live a sapient life with some hope of growth and meaning.

        Infantile Tay–Sachs disease, anencephaly, Potter’s Syndrome, and certain other diseases and birth defects prevent this from ever happening. While the baby may be born alive, it has no future except pain.

        As for the choice between mother and child – I think a bit broader, e.g., a woman undergoing cancer treatment has the choice of ending the treatment or ending her unborn child’s life. I’d not want to force a woman to choose to die in that circumstance. And let’s not forget ectopic pregnancies.

        But yes, if one limits it to risks incurred through delivery, c-sections will address a lot of it and proper pre- and para-natal medical care will handle mot of the rest, e.g., postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s