The issue of aborting a rape-induced pregnancy recently rocked a Senate campaign. The images it summons of violation, unfairness and burden assure the topic instantly launches infuriated responses. Deeming it part of the 2 percent of abortions that are medically indicated — the other 98 percent being elective (for convenience’s sake only), per the Guttmacher Institute — our nation overwhelmingly supports the right of a woman to abort such pregnancies. Legalities aside, is the solution as helpful as what we assume?
Psychiatrist Dr. Karl Benzio noted in his 2007 testimony to the Pennsylvania legislature, “As a psychiatrist, I have treated a number of mothers who have aborted a child conceived through rape as well as mothers who decided to carry the baby. Almost all those who had abortions regretted their decision and had psychiatric sequelae because of that decision. For those who carried the baby, almost all would not reverse their decision and have a child they love and who loves them, unconditionally. Interestingly … carrying the child led many on a spiritual journey trying to understand God, evil, redemption, justice, fairness and forgiveness, among other things…”
Many women actually find healing through carrying the baby to term and giving him/her a good life, either themselves or through adoption. Alternatively, women victimized by the violence of rape can be hurt a second time by the violence that is abortion. Abortion for pregnancy by rape is a prescription that harms the two innocent people involved, the mother and offspring. Why execute one of the blameless parties?
Ryan Bomberger, who was conceived of rape and subsequently adopted, reminds us, “There’s something beautiful that can rise from the ashes of such a violent act.” I’ve known several people conceived through rape, and none wished they weren’t born.