When talking to people about the moral nature of abortion there is no scenario that troubles our audience more than the question of rape. How do you force a woman that has been raped to carry her baby to term? She has been cruelly violated already, and now pro-life advocates want to legally compel her to continue in her forced pregnancy and give birth to the child of the man who raped her. It is an emotionally difficult argument in front of an audience.
I trot out the toddler to demonstrate that they are assuming the unborn are not fully human. Do they believe we would be justified in killing a small child because she was an intensely painful reminder of a past event for her mother? If not, then why not? If they agree that we do not kill people because they remind us of the profound pain of a past event then the question is “What is the unborn child in question?” If she is human in the same way the small child is then we cannot kill her for similar reasons.
In more conversational formats, I often argue that it is not obvious to me that aborting the unborn child is the morally superior approach in confronting the emotional needs of the raped woman. I posted on this at some length here. On a college campus a young man angrily yelled at me, “You think it is fair to force women to give birth and raise their child after they have been raped!” (Oddly enough, adoption never seems to immediately occur to people) I responded that I didn't think there was anything “fair” about what happened to a woman who has been raped. “Fair” left the building when a man decided to assault her to satisfy his depraved desires, but abortion does not offer the easy answer that its proponents appear to be suggesting. The woman is not unraped by the abortion. In fact, it may encourage our community to neglect our responsibility to minister to the victim.
I received this e-mail Friday from a good friend and supporter. The story of this family speaks directly to the unforeseen good that can come as a result of a family and community supporting a woman in her most terrible hour. Nothing can ever undo the evil that was perpetrated against the raped woman, but as I read this I was so moved by how ministering to a victim impacted a family for generations for the better. I withheld the names, but I offer the e-mail as I received it. She started by telling me how she was looking over my activities on Facebook:
My mind stumbled upon a memory of a conversation I had with my mother before _______ and I moved. We were sitting in a coffee shop chatting when our conversation landed on abortion. Little did I know that my great-great grandmother (my Grandmother's Grandmother) was raped by a family friend. If she had had an abortion, four generations of my family would never have existed - my great-Grandmother, my Grandmother, my mother, my sister and myself. It's a startling realization to say the least.
As it turns out, my great-great Grandmother was able to live out her years in her own house that her family provided for her where my Grandmother visited daily.
Her family didn't turn her away, even in a time when an unwed mother was considered a disgrace on the entire family. Out of her trials, came hope. Her horror became joy and her family was her support. I don't know anything about this courageous woman, not even her name. I don't know if she ever forgave the man that caused her such pain, or if she held on to her regrets. I do know that the women in my family have an odd understanding of forgiveness and grace that has been passed along through the years. My grandmother and my mother both knew this story and they instilled in their children the amazing power of forgiveness and how only God's forgiveness can free you of the most captivating and horrific injuries.