Circumstances: Sexual Assault

We must provide great empathy and care to those who are victims of sexual assault. No one denies that they require both emotional and physical treatment.

When such a victim becomes pregnant from sexual assault, is abortion an ethical response? In order to answer that question, we need to answer another essential one: Does abortion kill an innocent human being? If, indeed, it does then we may not do it just because a crime has been inflicted upon another innocent human being (the woman).

Researcher, Dr. David Reardon says it best when he points out, “Both the mother and child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence.”

Abortion won’t erase the trauma of sexual assault. Regardless of getting pregnant, a survivor of sexual assault will be reminded of the assault in the months and years to come. She needs special care and counselling to address that trauma, something abortion does not do.

And so, we must ask: May we harm an innocent human being because of a crime that human being’s father committed?

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Consider a New York Times article published in November 2007, interviewing an abortionist who said,

Dr. Wicklund describes her horror when she aborted the pregnancy of a woman who had been raped, only to discover, by examining the removed tissue, that the pregnancy was further along than she or the woman had thought—and that she had destroyed an embryo the woman and her husband had conceived together.2

Dr. Wicklund was horrified. But if a child conceived in love is human and it’s wrong to kill her, is not a child conceived in violence also human? If she is, we must protect her life—as challenging as that may certainly be.

Consider this scenario: Imagine a woman is raped a day after having sex with her husband. When she later discovers that she is pregnant, she doesn’t know whether the child is her husband’s or the rapist’s. Imagine she chooses to continue with the pregnancy and has a paternity test done after the child is born. If the test results reveal the baby’s father to be the rapist, may the child be killed at this point? If a rapist’s child may not be killed after birth, then why before birth? Ultimately, the question is this: When does life begin? After all, if we protect life after birth, we must protect it from the point it begins.

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