The Rape Exception
Many debates about abortion focus on situations in which a rape victim gets pregnant. An estimated 2.4% of U.S. women experience pregnancy from rape in their lifetimes. While roughly 99% of abortions are performed on embryos and fetuses conceived consensually, abortion in cases of rape involve even more extreme and complex emotional, moral, and legal factors. These circumstances warrant their own discussion.
People both within and outside the pro-life movement are sometimes surprised to learn that pro-lifers are divided on this issue, with over half of people who identify as “pro-life” stating abortion should be legal in cases of rape. Many pro-lifers argue that the circumstances surrounding a child’s conception are irrelevant to the moral value of that child, and so abortion should be illegal in these cases as in cases of consensual sex. Others argue that the child’s moral worth is not the only relevant factor, and that issues of bodily rights and moral obligations differ in significant ways in cases of rape compared to cases of consensual sex.
Secular Pro-Life has leaders and supporters of both mindsets. We do not take an official position for or against the rape exception, and instead keep the debate open. Read more:
Arguments against the rape exception:
- De Facto guardian and abortion: a response to the strongest violinist (Justice For All)
- Responding to the question of rape with wisdom and compassion (Equal Rights Institute)
- On The Rape Exception (Rehumanize International)
- Is abortion justifiable in the hard cases?
Arguments for the rape exception:
- Misconceptions about the rape exception
- The case for the rape exception (sort of)
- Arguing for the rape exception
Articles neither for nor against, but related:
- “What if she’s lying?”
- How rape survivors who conceive are re-victimized (All Our Lives)
- Giving birth to a “Rapist’s Child”: a discussion and analysis of the limited legal protections afforded to women who become mothers through rape (Georgetown Law)
- Fact Sheet: Reasons for Abortion (Charlotte Lozier Institute)