Children of a lesser god? Part 2
Last week, we discussed the, likely, millions of children who have been conceived through the evil of invitro fertilization (IVF) and now are frozen in a secular limbo, awaiting adoption (unlikely), death (more likely) or donation to “research” (repulsive). These children, created in the image and likeness of God, are the innocent victims of perverted science and parental selfishness, unguided by any sense of ethics or basic human decency. As usual, real life is far more horrifying than anything science fiction or horror writers can dream up, and The Matrix has nothing on your local “fertility center”. One can only hope that this crime against humanity will be outlawed, if and when our legal sense of ethics catches up to the desire of scientists to “do something”.
This week, we find ourselves considering the very complicated, emotional and real issue of another group of children conceived through evil, that is, those conceived as a result of rape. Previously, all of our discussions have centered on the concept of consent to sex being consent to pregnancy, and the subsequent responsibilities thereof. In rape, this is not the case. Although only about 1.5% of abortions are performed because of rape, this is disproportionately put forward as justification for the other 98% of abortions done for superfluous reasons and deserves close examination.
Rape is a violent crime that dehumanizes its victim in the deepest and most severe way imaginable. In some regards, it is a greater crime than murder. After all, a murder victim’s suffering ends at the time of death. In the case of rape, the suffering can last a lifetime. Some jurisdictions quite rightly recognize this, and the penalties for rape can be equivalent to those for murder, including capital punishment (itself a topic for another day). Despite severe punishments, rape continues to occur in our society and other societies, and, worldwide, is employed as a tool of war, violence and subjugation. As in other burdens, this far, far disproportionately impacts women. In a multiplier effect of evil, rape can also result in pregnancy, creating another human victim of a heinous crime. To further complicate and make this crime horrible (as if it wasn’t enough), most victims of rape are younger women who know their assailant. The incidence of rape by a complete stranger, albeit significant, is a minority, at around 20%. Finally, the incidence of pregnancy as a result of rape, at 5%, may be marginally higher than the incidence of pregnancy as a result of consensual sex. There are numerous scientific and pseudoscientific papers examining why this may be the case, but it may be as simple as consensual sex occurring preferentially, for some couples, at times in the menstrual cycle removed from ovulation and fertility, as opposed to the randomness of rape.
The question becomes, what is the consequence of carrying a child to term who has been conceived in rape? Despite what the popular media and pro-abortion crowd would have one believe, the answer is not at all clear. Does bringing the child to term perpetuate the crime and worsen the trauma, does it mitigate the violation, to a degree, by bringing a new, innocent life into the world, or is it neutral? There are no good studies about this and we only have outcome data and anecdotes as a reference. You may be surprised to know that, in one study, only 50% of pregnancies resulting from rape were aborted. Of the remaining 50%, 32% opted to carry the child to term and raise the child, 6% placed the child up for adoption and about 12% suffered a miscarriage (1). This should be very surprising, if you watch the popular media and abortion industry champion the need for abortion on demand because of rape, and their histrionic despair at state legislation that prohibits abortion without exceptions for rape or incest. (As an aside, I have never quite understood the need for the “rape OR incest” term. If an exception to an abortion prohibition is made for rape, wouldn’t forcible incest also be rape? Is there a need for a distinction? In the exceedingly rare cases of consensual incest, would the state actually forcibly abort the child? I digress, but the semantics are odd).
So, it is not at all clear that, in the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape that abortion is the best or most desirable option. Just as abortion does not make one unpregnant, it also does not make one unraped. The crime has been committed and cannot be undone. Another innocent victim, the unborn child, has now been introduced and is the woman further victimized by a second act of violence against her unborn child, conceived through evil, but innocent in of itself? There is a sacred and unbreakable bond between a woman and her unborn child. We do not know how this bond is affected when it is created in an act of violence and degradation. This is an area where reasonable people should be able to disagree. There is no doubt that, in some instances, carrying the unborn child to term further compounds the insult and trauma suffered by the woman. It is also without doubt, however, that, in other instances, carrying the unborn child to term may mitigate some of the trauma and damage of the original crime. It is absolutely true that persons conceived in rape are grateful that their mothers chose to make the additional sacrifice of carrying them to term and allowing them to live happy and fulfilled lives, despite the crime of their father. Eartha Kitt, Jesse Jackson, Janet Sheen (the wife of Martin Sheen), Miss Pennsylvania, Valerie Gotto, and Mentwabe Dawit, the adopted daughter of Angelina Jolie, are among the most notable of the many conceived in rape, but the testimonies of thousands of others affirm the fact that life is better than death and children should not be punished for the crimes of their fathers. Indeed, in any civilized society, innocent relatives of a criminal are not punished for his/her crimes (except for the case of North Korea, where 3 generations are punished for the “crimes” of an offender, usually political). Similarly, it is easy to find statements from women who have suffered rape and carried the child to term being comforted and satisfied with their decision, finding the good in the midst of evil, so to speak. We do know, definitively, that the psychiatric consequences to women who undergo elective abortion after consensual sex and pregnancy are severe, with greatly increased rates of behavioral disorders, depression, anxiety and suicide. This has not been well studied in women who have become pregnant through rape, but there is limited data to suggest that, of women who became pregnant as a result of rape, the majority who underwent an abortion regretted their decision and stated that the abortion had caused them additional problems, while those who carried the child to term were satisfied with their decision and none regretted giving birth (2). Obviously, there is some bias at play here, as in many psychological studies, but the results are not as clear as the abortion industry would lead you to believe.
The Catholic position is very clear. The sins of the father are not visited upon the child, and it is never justified to take human life, despite the circumstances of that human’s conception. The crime has been done, the pain and trauma have occurred and violence against an unborn child will not change that and, indeed, may exacerbate the damage. But this is complicated and societal structures do not facilitate this option.
Aside from the bloodlust of the abortion industry, the legal system needs reform. It is shocking that, in many jurisdictions, the rapist retains some parental rights and, in 31 states, can even petition for visitation and joint custody. This seems particularly perverted. If the woman chooses to abort, she can usually do so on demand, but bringing the child to term may force a relationship with the rapist? This almost seems to encourage abortion. And what of the physical risk, expense and inconvenience of a pregnancy, brought on through violence and without consent? Is it reasonable to expect the woman to further compound her violation by shouldering these additional risks and expenses? It is not and, in any other circumstance, a court of competent jurisdiction would provide for relief for this.
One of the most tired tropes of the pro-abortion crowd is, “if you are pro-life, you should be pro-child support, maternal leave, day care, etc., etc., etc.” This is the one (and only one) instance where they may have a point. The primary duty of a government is to protect its citizens. To that end, we strongly advocate that the state, with the same vigor that it advocates for abortion, should provide for support for those women who make the heroic and life-affirming choice to carry a rapist’s child to term. These women should receive support for medical expenses, childcare expenses and civil compensation for their pain, suffering and medical risk. From the secular perspective, if a state does not prohibit abortion in the case of rape, it is reasonable that a victim’s compensation fund would be created to financially mitigate the burden that has been forced on the woman, through violence and without her consent. This is not unlike the monetary compensation that is paid out to victims of other crimes, either from fines to the perpetrator, tax dollars or industry tariffs. It would be a refreshing change to see Planned Parenthood, and other abortion practitioners, compelled to pay into such a fund as a percentage of their revenue from providing abortions. If the “pro-choice” people are truly “pro-choice” they should strongly support this. Indeed, this takes us back to the argument of, “if you are pro-life, you should support childcare, etc.” Those terms are acceptable and I suspect most pro-life entities would welcome a fund to support mothers in difficult pregnancies and challenging circumstances, whether the pregnancy was consensual or through rape. I am not holding my breath to see whether the “pro-choice” side will contribute.
The circumstances of our creation do not define our worth before God. All human beings are created, equally worthy, valid and dignified, in the image and likeness of God. That is not diminished or modified by the actions of evil men.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me”. Psalm 27:10
George Mychaskiw II, DO, FAAP, FACOP, FASA
Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering
School of Osteopathic Medicine