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The Hard Cases

Abortion: The Hard Cases

There is no doubt that pregnancy resulting from rape represents an extremely traumatic experience for the woman involved. At this time, psychological support from family, friends, and the victim's community is of paramount importance. The act of rape is an act of violence and aggression and so is the act of abortion.

Despite the common misconception that aborting the fetus will alleviate the trauma of rape, often quite the opposite is true. Abortion in rape cases frequently only compounds the psychological duress experienced by the victim.

Another misconception about pregnancy resulting from rape is that it is a common occurrence. However, there are many sound medical reasons and statistical data that refute this presumption. A 1988 study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (formerly affiliated with Planned Parenthood) concluded that of 1,900 U.S. women surveyed who had undergone abortions only 1% listed rape or incest as their reason for choosing abortion.

In addition to the fact that they are totally unenforceable, laws that permit abortion in these small number of cases make bad public policy. In legislating around difficult circumstances by validating a principle of justice for hard cases, a precedent for other cases is established as well. The American judicial system is based on punishing the criminal, not the victim. In a country where rapists are not subject to death for their crimes, the innocent child resulting from those crimes should not be either.

Pregnancy resulting from an incestuous relationship is different from rape incidents in significant ways. In many instances, the male offender starts abusing the girl when she is very young and continues to do so until she runs away, marries, exposes the crime to authorities, or gets pregnant. Abortion in incest cases does nothing to treat the underlying problem but rather, simply hides it. In an incestuous relationship, the abuser is the primary advocate of abortion because it conveniently destroys "evidence" that such a relationship exists. The victim involved often desires to maintain the pregnancy as a means of exposing, hindering, or stopping the relationship from continuing.

Incest represents a family situation where extensive external help is needed. Obtaining an abortion for the victim does nothing to solve the true problem. After the abortion, the girl or woman will most likely be returned to the exact same abusive environment where she will be subjected to further violation. Advocates of abortion in cases of incest may ultimately believe that by taking away the most obvious indication of the incestuous relationship, they cannot take away the very act itself. The only thing that abortion in incest cases will accomplish is the destruction of an innocent human life. In addition, elimination of such "evidence" only serves to hinder possible prosecution of the offender, which may be essential to breaking the incestuous relationship.