Controversy

Should the abortion bills (such as Alabama HB314) include exceptions for rape and incest?

Should the abortion bills (such as Alabama HB314) include exceptions for rape and incest?
WRITTEN BY
04/26/20
vs

Emma (Yes)

A person is never obligated to donate any part of their body to another person, regardless of the need of the recipient or how small the cost to the donor. We do not even obligate deceased individuals to donate to a living person that will die without it unless the donor gave consent before death. According to experts at Georgetown University, “…the right of autonomy preempts the obligation to serve the health of others” [1]. Given that a fetus uses the mother’s body to live and grow, restrictions on abortion violate women’s right to bodily autonomy.

Forcing women to carry pregnancies resulting from traumatic experiences, particularly rape, damages their health by intensifying trauma and takes lives. A study of pregnant women who had been raped found that there were higher rates of depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts in women who had to carry versus those able to terminate [2]. Suicide attempts are certainly serious risks to the mother’s life (something HB314 already considers to be an acceptable exception), and these are driven by the loss of abortion as an option. Many incest cases are also the result of rape, or at least serious trauma, which would follow the same patterns. Rape and incest victims should always be given exceptions to terminate if they feel fit.


Suzanne (No)

Injustices such as rape, incest, and murder show how bodily autonomy is often used for ill. Just because someone has the freedom to enact their will over someone else doesn’t mean it’s right. The unborn are that “someone else” in the abortion scenario. They didn’t decide how they were conceived, and their biological tethering inside their mother’s womb is necessary by design, allowing a completely alive, distinct, human child the safety to develop to the point of birth and beyond. Justice and common law condemn taking life from innocent persons, just as it condemns other crimes. Even in tragic cases of rape and incest, the unborn are unwitting third party participants undeserving of bearing the full punishment – in this case, what amounts to the death penalty - for a crime they have not committed. Not even rapists receive the death penalty. To put the child to death gives more human rights to rapists than to innocent children [1]. 

Further, a person’s location, their origin, and whether or not they are desired do not determine or negate their value and worth [2]. The unborn are human, entitled to their own human rights, as only humans beget humans [3]. Their lives begin at conception [4]. And they are distinct from their mother, sometimes inhabiting the opposite sex, possessing unique DNA, and often a differing blood type [5]. Science only continues to widen our understanding of fetal development, confirming life begins at fertilization [6,7,8,9]. Unfortunately, abortion cannot erase the trauma of sexual assault, and all women who endure such pain while deciding to bring the unexpected life inside them to fruition deserve the utmost compassion, support, and respect.

Fact Box

  • In May 2019, the Alabama HB314 bill made abortion or attempted abortion a felony offenses with the only exception being serious risk to the mother’s health or life. Cases of rape and incest are not included in the exceptions to the law [1].
  • From a 2005 report, a combined less than 2% of aborted pregnancies are the result of rape and incest [2]. 
  • Over 40% of self-identified “pro-life” adults in the U.S. believe there should be exceptions in abortion law for rape and incest. Nearly 30% of national adults who are opposed to abortion at any stage of pregnancy still support rape and incest exceptions [3].
  • According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1% of women attain abortions due to rape and 0.05% on account of incest [4].
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