“What if an eleven-year-old gets raped by her dad? Would you really say that this child shouldn’t have an abortion?” The young woman asking the question had a look of mixed triumph and curiosity. There really wasn’t anything I could say to that, was there? In asking this question, she had proven that abortion is necessary, hadn’t she?
Giving pro-life presentations at high schools is probably my favourite part of my job as communications coordinator for the CCBR. In schools where most of the students are pro-life, I get to see them realize the importance of speaking out on behalf of the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. And at schools where many of the students are pro-choice, I get to see worldviews tested and perspectives changed.
The teenager who asked me the question about the eleven-year-old child attended one of these more pro-choice schools, and the question she asked was a common one. People have been led to believe that abortion is the only answer to problems such as poverty, health crises, and sexual assault. When students are trying to hold onto their pro-choice views after they have heard it deconstructed through a simple pro-life 101 presentation, they often bring up the most difficult circumstance they can think of. What could be more horrific than the assault and impregnation of a child?
The situation that these students are often referring to is the 2015 report that an 11-year-old in Paraguay, South America, was pregnant as a result of sexual assault. In Paraguay, abortion is illegal except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Pro-choice advocates at once began clamouring at the injustice of this child being denied an abortion, demanding to know if pro-lifers really wanted to force a child to give birth. The answer, obviously, is one-thousand times no. Our hearts break for the children forced into these immeasurably traumatic situations. No one wants a child to be a mother. Even more importantly, no one wants her to be raped in the first place.
In these cases, people often focus on the wrong point: the injustice is not that she is pregnant, the injustice is that she was impregnated. The person who sexually assaulted a child is the one who forced her into these traumatic circumstances, and this trauma will not be undone by having an abortion. In fact, very few women choose abortion after having been raped. What is significant to note in this particular case, and nearly every case like it, is that the girl herself is never referenced as having requested an abortion; rather, her mother did.
What can be most frustrating about students bringing up this case is the fact that they believe that abortion will solve the problem. In their minds, abortion is a cure-all that can redeem a tragic situation, whereas in reality, all abortion does is put a flimsy bandaid over an infected wound. Abortion does not give an abused child her innocence back. Abortion does not remove an abused child from her dangerous situation—often, in fact, it covers up the abuse and allows it to continue. In tragic situations such as these, one human being has been brutally violated, and another human being was conceived as a result of this violence. Both persons are innocent; both persons are deserving of all the rights, protection, and help that we can afford them.