I would like to start out by saying that generally speaking I am pro-life. That being said, I do not take the hard line stance a lot of Christians do. I do not think the answers are clear in cases of rape, maternal risks for continuing with a pregnancy, or in the cases of babies that are diagnosed with conditions that are incompatible with life. I approach these issues from the perspective that I do not know what I would do if I found myself in one of these situations so I am in no position to make sweeping judgments of other women. Furthermore, the Bible explicitly tells us not to judge. It is not our position to condemn others. We have no right to do so. Above anything else, I know this: God loves us. Each and every one of us, no matter what decisions we make. His love is unfathomable and His grace is endless.
I recently read an article that discusses how many women who conceive through rape are forced to share custody of that child with their rapist.
Take a second and stop. If you already have your pitchfork out based on my foreword, at least give me the courtesy of reading the article I linked to. Let the stories of these victims sink in. Then come on back here.
There are 15 states which have no laws terminating parental rights of a rapist. That means he can apply for visitation and custody and can therefore force his victim to be in constant contact with him for at least 18 years. 22 states require a rapist to be convicted for his crime in order for his parental rights to be eligible for termination. That means 40 territories (Washington, D.C. is included in the 40) have little to no protection for victims of rape who conceive a child and decide to keep that child in terms of terminating her rapist's parental access to the child.
Pro-lifers: do you not see what a huge problem this is??
My motivation for writing this article is two-fold. First, the most vocal pro-lifers I am friends with have never actually presented any solutions to reducing the number of abortions that occur each year. They are too busy screaming about how women who choose abortions are selfish. I don't know that any of them have ever done any research into WHY a woman is choosing to abort. I'm speculating here, but I'm guessing the fact that a rapist can enforce parental rights on a child he made through rape is probably a factor that rape victims consider. Second, having experienced sexual abuse myself, I feel it is critical for me to advocate for the victims. When I shared the article I linked to on my Facebook page, someone actually responded that the best solution is for a rape victim to seek prosecution of the rapist so she can keep the child without issue.
Here are the many problems with that argument:
1. Rape is a historically underreported crime (only approximately 32% of rapes are reported to the police) thanks to the stigma associated with it, the shock that comes along with such a traumatic and intimate assault, and the very victim-blaming (that comment placed all responsibility on the rape victim) mentality that our society perpetuates.
2. 15 states (30%) have ZERO provisions for terminating parental rights in the case of rape, so prosecution will not help those women.
3. 24 states + D.C. (47%) require the rapist to be convicted to be eligible for the termination of parental rights. "So turn him in for conviction!" - Let me break it down for you why this is such a horrible argument:
(The following is based on statistics from RAINN and UK Rape Data) Lets say 500 women report their rape to police. Of those 500 rapists, 35 will be arrested, but only 15 will actually go to trial. Out of 500 rapes, 1 man will be found guilty. 0.2% of rapists will ever be found guilty--and that's just of the reported rapes. If you are a human being who has a heart, you should feel sick. You should feel outraged. THIS is where your pitchforks should be directed. Our judicial system is so disgustingly flawed.
If you are pro-life, THIS is a tangible starting point in your fight to end abortions. Fight our judicial system for improved protections for rape victims. Do not allow their rapists to have access to their children. Advocate for them and give them a voice so they do not feel like their only choice to live a life free from their attacker is to get an abortion. Not sure how to do that? Contact your state representative and urge them to propose legislation that will improve victims' rights. You can use this website as a starting point, or a simple Google search will likely give you answers. Also, talk about this issue! Raising awareness and therefore encouraging others to also contact their legislators is imperative. Be so loud about what an injustice this is that you cannot be ignored. Finally, instead of immediately villainizing a woman who has had or is considering an abortion, maybe just ask her why? Leave your judgement and opinions at the door and just listen to her. I can guarantee you she already knows what you think about abortion. Just love her the way Jesus does.