How Do Rape, Incest, and Threat to the Mother’s Life Affect Your Pro-Life Stance?


Audio Transcript

Andrew in Naples, Florida asks, “Pastor John, do your pro-life convictions change when it comes to situations involving rape, incest, or matters of a mother’s life?” Obviously these are hard questions, and even pro-life politicians stumble here. Do your pro-life views change in these circumstances?

Well, they are hard questions, and by “hard” I don’t necessarily mean hard to answer. I mean hard to live with. And the women here are the ones who bear the greatest weight, because the baby is in her, not in the boyfriend, or the rapist.

And this is why it is so troubling when abortion is justified for equality’s sake, which is what our president says repeatedly. It just galls me that — in front of his daughters — he would say that equal rights for women means that they must have access to abortion, which really means equal rights to have sex outside of marriage without any more consequences than the man has. That is what he means, which is horrific to say, but that is another issue.

The Baby Is Not the Criminal

The question asked is: Suppose a woman is attacked or, say, drunk at a party or something, and now she is pregnant and didn’t want to be pregnant. The baby is going to change everything in her life. The guy was either an ugly brute or a manipulator. So what should she do? My answer, as hard as it may be, is that the baby didn’t do anything wrong. And we are asking that the baby be penalized here as well as the mother if there is an abortion. So I would say no: rape and incest ought not be a warrant for killing the baby. The baby is not the criminal here. The guy needs to be criminalized, not the baby.

And I would add this. It is horrific for a woman to be raped, say, and then to feel the burden of a pregnancy that was totally outside her plan and desire, but I recently read a survey of hundreds of women who had carried a baby to term, babies who had been conceived in that kind of situation — virtually none of the women regretted it, whereas many of the women who got an abortion felt pangs of regret.

Here is the reason, I think. When the horror begins to die down of what just happened, and that this baby in her was conceived in that kind of ugly, hostile way, she still says, “It is my baby. It is my baby,” just as if her husband had conceived the baby. Yes, it was conceived by a man whom she didn’t want to have anything to do with, but the baby is hers just like it would be hers if it was conceived by her husband. The woman feels that deep down, and I would just say there are ways forward, whether by caring for the baby herself or giving the baby to a loving family because she is in a situation where she can’t raise it, that would be less damaging to her soul than if the baby were taken.

Jeopardized Health of the Mother

How about in the situation of a mother whose life is in risk because of the pregnancy? What would you say in that case?

Yes, that is there. There are issues there that are really difficult, and it takes a doctor to be able to point out the nature of some of these risks. For example, there are ectopic pregnancies where the it is not possible for the baby to live because it is growing outside of the womb. The baby is alive now, but the baby cannot grow in that kind of situation, and if you leave it, it could imperil the mother’s life. Now in that kind of situation, with the certain death of the baby taking the mother’s life with the baby, you are forced to ask, what would you do? And I would yield. I would just say, “No. We don’t want to lose two here. Better to lose one than two in that case, to take the baby from the situation where the baby cannot possibly live and could kill the mother while it is dying.”

There are other situations that concern the mother’s health. Say she has cancer or something and the doctor says, “You know, to carry this pregnancy through could imperil your own life.” Many women have said — and I think, rightly — “I will risk it. I don’t want to take my baby’s life because of the possibility that I will lose my life.” And some women have lost their lives in childbirth and many times they haven’t. And so I don’t think it is obvious, then, that every risk a mother is put in warrants the baby’s life being taken.

Wise Risk Is Right

And where that line is between a certain death for mom, for the baby, and all the risks, that is really tough, and I am going to have to lean heavy on the wisdom of Christian doctors to help me discern. Really, “Is this a death sentence for mom, or is it not?”

And this gets down to that whole issue of right and wrong risks. I would rather just leave the principle there that it is a beautiful thing that a mom would risk her life for the sake of her child, but I don’t think a sure death sentence would be required for mom.