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You are a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Many have argued, even members of your own party, that your position is too extreme for most Americans and could hurt your chances in the General Election. Would you really tell a rape victim that she must carry to term a child that was forced upon her by an act of such cruelty?

That’s a hard question, but I am going to answer it, because anyone running for President of the United States must be willing to answer hard questions. And I trust that my opponents who support unfettered access to abortion will also be made to answer hard questions.

  • Someone should ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle if they oppose a ban on partial-birth abortion–the practice whereby a child half-way through the birth canal is stabbed at the base of the skull and then the brain is extracted with a suction device.
  • Someone should ask if they believe that abortion should be legal at any time in pregnancy, and for any reason–which is what Roe v. Wade mandated in all 50 states–or if they agree with 93% of Americans who do not hold this view.
  • Someone should ask if they believe their position constitutes a war on women, since 53% of women in this country believe abortion is too easy to get and 58% of women believe abortion is morally wrong in most cases.
  • Someone should ask if they’ve watched the Planned Parenthood videos and if they think selling baby parts for cash is in keeping with the values of this great nation.
  • Someone should ask when they consider a child becomes a full human person, endowed with certain unalienable rights, chief among them the right not to be killed.

So, yes, I’ll answer your hard question. But I hope all the hard questions will be asked.

Should abortion be legal in the case of rape? Let me make three points.

Number one, it’s tragic. The question is sometimes asked as a gotcha question for conservatives, but I know for those women in this situation, or who have been in this situation, the question is intensely painful and personal. Sexual assault is a terrible evil and a heinous crime. I can’t say that strongly enough. And I really mean it. I have a wife. I have sisters. I have daughters. For a man to abuse a woman or force himself upon a woman is always wrong. It is despicable and deplorable. There are few things more traumatic or more painful.

Number two, it’s rare. I don’t say this to minimize anyone experience, only to put into perspective what we are talking about. 99.5% of abortions are performed on pregnancies resulting from consensual sex. I have a suspicion that this hard question comes up every election cycle not so much because of the media’s great compassion for women, but because it seems like an easy way to shame pro-lifers. Let’s be clear: when we talk about abortion, we are virtually always talking about a pregnancy that came about because a man and a woman chose to have sex.

Number three, it’s a life. This the most important point and why, despite the very real physical and emotional pain that I don’t want to minimize, I cannot support abortion on demand. Not for any reason, not even this one. The leading textbooks are clear: life begins at conception. That’s not a religious belief. That’s a scientific fact. We all started out as a microscopic zygote loaded with all the genetic information it will ever need. That’s where you came from. That was you. Your life started at that moment. I don’t believe life is less valuable because of its size, or its level of intelligence, or because of its relative dependence or independence, or because of where it it lives. Every life is precious. Every life is a gift from God. A child’s life is not less deserving of protection just because it was conceived through the sins of another.

I know this is a real struggle for some people. Let me just say in closing that I haven’t come to this conclusion lightly. It’s based on the testimony of science and the testimony of my own conscience. The child in the womb is a human being, and, from very early in the pregnancy, he or she has finger nails, a beating heart, and the capacity to feel pain. We do not become human persons by traveling a few inches down the birth canal. Every innocent life deserves a chance to live.

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44 thoughts on “Answering the Abortion Question that Is Sure to Come”

  1. WoundedEgo says:

    I don’t understand, are you running for President?

  2. David Bruce says:

    I think we have to remember that we live in the era of grace. We are all still sinners and will continue to be just that. I’m sure it’s possible that some women could carry to term the child of a rapist. But I can also understand that some women might not psychologically be able to handle that burden. I’d fall on grace in that instance. I would understand why such a woman would have to end such a pregnancy. So what would you do Pastor DeYoung as the Pastor of a church in that instance? I think you should have discussed that. Yea, that situation is rare, but it has happened at my church. Would you discipline such a woman? Would you shun her? Kick her out of the church? Would you pick up that stone and throw it?

  3. Ryan says:

    Thank you Mr. DeYoung, we always appreciate your heart and thoughts on this very difficult subject! Doug Wilson wrote a great piece just recently on this as well…
    “4. So what about rape and incest?
    In the case of rape, we have three people involved. The mother, the rapist, and the child. Two of them are innocent, and one is guilty. What kind of moral sense does it make to execute one of the innocent parties for the crime of the one guilty party? What would you say if someone proposed that we fix the problem by executing the mother? You would say, “Are you crazy? She’s a person . . .” Oh.

    With regard to incest, the concern has to do with the increased probability of birth defects. But this operates as a hidden premise, and reveals that many politicians do not know what they are talking about. They would not say that we ought to execute unborn children with birth defects, but they are willing to say that we can perform abortions when the pregnancy is the result of incest. And why? Because there might be birth defects.

    The issue is always this — does the unborn child bear the image of God? If so, respect it. If not, then don’t. But do not pretend there is a middle way — for if the unborn child does not bear the image of God, then neither do you. If the unborn child has no rights, then neither do you.

  4. That is an outstanding answer. It is hard to believe that politicians aren’t prepared to answer such obvious questions.

    Here’s my shorter version: I’m glad you brought up the topic of rape and incest. Those are terrible crimes that we should seek to prevent, and we should ensure that the victims aren’t further victimized and that there is justice for the rapists. If you propose the death penalty for the rapist I’d consider that, but why is it the first option for the innocent child? It is a scientific fact that the unborn are human beings from fertilization.

    Abortionists like Planned Parenthood help hide the crimes. They have been caught countless times hiding statutory rape, incest (which is another form of rape) and sex trafficking. If you really care about rape, then protest Planned Parenthood and how they systematically hide statutory rape and sex trafficking.

    Rapes results in less than 1% of abortions. Those abortions are still wrong, but for the record, would you oppose outlawing all abortions, except those in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother? If not, then why not admit that you are really just pro-abortion and you use the rape card to advance your cause? Do not exploit rape victims to justify abortion.

    Unless you can look at an ultrasound and tell if a child was the product of rape or incest, then you shouldn’t let them be killed.

    Abortion doesn’t undo the trauma of rape, it compounds it. It is another way of a stronger person abusing a weaker person.

  5. Doc B says:

    Two points: First, RvW did not allow for abortion at any time during the pregnancy with no regulation; it did this for the first trimester, but the state is still allowed to regulate abortion for different reasons during the second and third trimester.

    Second: I believe that most certainly in the case of sexual assault (rape), someone should be executed. But not the baby. In a sexual assault where pregnancy occurs, however rare, there are two victims and one perpetrator. Killing one of the victims seems to me to be a scenario only slightly more humane than killing both victims (which still apparently happens in a few cultures). Let us punish the perpetrator and neither one of the victims. (Yes, I understand that puts a heavy burden on one of the victims, but if the only alternative is to execute the other victim, it is a burden that is less onerous, IMO.)

  6. Chris Erwin says:

    To fall back on “grace” in this situation is to use the biblical concept of “grace” as a cover for sin. This isn’t a hard case, at least in terms of the objective truth of the matter. You shall not murder. The baby is a human, made in God’s image, and hasn’t run afoul of the civil government and so under peril of the sword (a la Romans 13). To take its life is therefore murder. The circumstances under which it was conceived in no way impacts this fact. Of course a woman who chooses to abort in this situation can repent before God and be forgiven through Christ. But to be frank, I’m alarmed that we might consider using the word “grace” as an plank in an argument for legalized murder.

  7. Curt Day says:

    Certainly this is an important subject to comment on and the questions posed for those who believe in unfettered access to abortion are very good. However, in answer the question about allowing for the right to an abortion in case of rape, I would eliminate point #2. That the percentage of abortions occurring when the unborn child is the result of consensual sex can be misleading in terms of how rare the situation actually is. But even with however rare it is, such situations come about all too often and the point bears no relevance in opposing abortion in those situations.

  8. ChrisB says:

    #4, In this country, we do not punish people for the actions of another. If it is acceptable to punish one child of a rapist for the rape, do we punish his other children? Should we punish the children of a thief or murderer? Of course not — they’re innocent and tangentially victims themselves of their father’s crime. So why would be punish this other child, also an innocent victim of his crime?

  9. John S says:

    ChrisB yes. If the baby is a baby, a living human being, killing them for the sins of another is unjust and wrong. Obviously easier for me to say than the victim of rape or incest. The church should come alongside in every way to help, including taking care of adoption details as able.

    Were I running for President I would replace the line “So, yes, I’ll answer your hard question. But I hope all the hard questions will be asked” with “when my opponent answers these questions then I will gladly answer yours” and end there. Seems to me this is a tactic Jesus used. Actually I would hammer that point again and again. I would spend my most passionate words on that point. Because those questions are rarely asked or answered, especially not in a public, national debate but I would insist on it.

  10. Patricia McCarthy says:

    I am a follower of Jesus, and I abhor the evil of Abortion, which is this world evil drive toward infanticide; but a woman’s life is not less deserving of protection because she was raped, abused, and/or abandoned by another. It is up to Christians to surround the ‘victims’ with the love and emotional and financial support they will most certainly need in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. How many Christians are prepared to spend the 9 months of an unwanted pregnancy providing that type of support to a woman who is desperate and has no one else to turn to? And who may then be expected to give up her baby anyway, to be adopted.

  11. Gary Williams says:

    It’s all very easy for people to debate the theological rightness or wrongness of abortion in the case of a rape victim. We can quote statistics we can quote theology. It becomes a great debate among people who have no stake in the outcome.
    At what point does it become right to make the first innocent victim an innocent victim again. When as a society have we ever supported a rape victim financially. When are we willing to give her full medical care for the unwanted child, or food clothing and schooling for the unwanted child , and psychological therapy or any other need this woman will need to raise that child. Until we as a society are prepared to support fully the victim of rape we have no business dictating to her whether she can afford to care for this child or not. In fact our position on raped women is a form of judgment against a victim.
    Remember folks judge not lest ye be judged.

  12. Josh says:

    I do think the rape question is powerful rhetorically, but I personally think the “forced organ donation” argument is more logically powerful.

  13. Rachel says:

    Thanks for this article. It’s well stated, especially, “I have a suspicion that this hard question comes up every election cycle not so much because of the media’s great compassion for women, but because it seems like an easy way to shame pro-lifers.” I might add something to the effect that devaluing one life devalues all. Occasionally I’ll read an argument that goes something like, “I love my own children with all my heart, but of course I support abortion rights.” A mother attacks the human dignity of her own children when she says that; she’s arguing that they had no inherent rights or value except what she chose to allow them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am a victim of rape. Fingers were pointed – it was date rape. The story came out. I was called promiscuous, a slut, a whore. By people in my church, no less. My fiance’s family told me I would bring disease & shame to their family. He called the wedding off because of family pressure. I have no doubt that if I had been pregnant as a result of the rape (which occurred a few years before I was engaged), that I would have been outcast, shamed, alone. That church would not have supported me. It happened to a friend of mine – same dude. Serial date rapist. I would have made the same choice as she did. No abortion. But life would not have been easy. Christians are brutal. Judgmental hacks – many of them. Many who haven’t traveled a broken road & have lived in a Christian bubble have no clue. Abortion is murder. That child, that sweet innocent life, is made in His image. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – do anything to harm him. Even if I had to go it alone. Because I wouldn’t be alone.

  15. Adoptive Dad says:

    I have a stake in this discussion. My commitment to not aborting children of rape is not hypothetical, but it is deeply theological and personal. My youngest child is adopted. She is the result of her mother being raped by her step-father.

    Our daughter has been 1) supported by the state, 2) received incredible medical care from the state to prevent the transmission of HIV from the mother to the child, 3) has received therapy from the state because of developmental delays. The government does care for the children who are the product of rape.

    We adopted our child knowing all of this. We adopted her for theological reasons. We adopted her because we have been adopted through Christ. We adopted her because we want to care for the orphan – this is true religion. It has not been easy and I dread the day when she will find out her story. But, I am quite confident that she will always be thankful that she was not aborted. I am also confident that she is now part of a greater story — not the story of the fall and of sin, but the story of redemption. She belongs to a God who hates abortion and redeems. She belongs to a God who makes covenant and keeps his promises. We love our daughter and we love her mother. We love that she was not aborted, even though her mother could have legally chosen that route.

    I have sat with women who were raped. Some of them have taken abortifacient drugs after the rape. I think that we could have found an adoptive home for their child — I know many families who are looking for children to adopt. We have walked with rape victims for years and have seen Jesus heal those wounds. God redeems. Rape doesn’t have to be the end of the story (nor does abortion). There is a greater story of fall AND redemption, sin AND new life that we can participate in through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

  16. Philmonomer says:

    Point number 2 should be dropped. Even your own statistics show about 6,000-7,000 abortions a year are due to rape. That isn’t rare. Winning powerball is rare. .

  17. Esther Lee says:

    I don’t understand how people can still use the Planned Parenthood videos as argument. It was clearly proven that the “baby parts they sell for cash” were for scientific research purposes, and they don’t make “profits” out of the transaction. I am a pro-life person myself, but it boggles my mind when the same people refuse to look at evidence and research to support their claims.

  18. Dan Clausen says:

    I just wanted to quickly add another point, and although its a Biblical point, I think non-believers outside of the abortion debate would agree with this principle, namely that, “The son shall not bear the sins of the father.”
    Basically, the child is still innocent. Just because the father did a heinous act does not mean the child should get the death penalty. If my father was a murderer, should I also be killed? If so, this is not a matter of where the child is. We should be executing adult children-of-murderers then.
    Also, I don’t believe that rape itself is a crime punishable by death. Why would the child then receive a harsher punishment than the one who committed the crime?
    Thanks for your article.

  19. Ken says:

    Once I needed some easy credits (or so I thought) to finish my degree. I took a women’s studies class that initially was informative and worth being involved with. Then it began to take a rather oblique course that quickly became a platform for a variety of topics with abortion being one of them. It was interesting because the instructor was a few years older than me and I was in my mid forties. The rest of the class was comprised of folks in their early twenties. When the topic of abortion came up we were blessed with the strong opinion of the instructor who replayed an incident that occurred in her college days. A young woman had tried to abort her baby by herself and I believe she bled out in the woman’s bathroom shower. The instructor told us how horrible it was and I have no doubt that it was. Yet the situation occurred perhaps 30 years before our class discussion and no effort was made on her part as to what options are out there today. She had a mindset bent towards killing an innocent human being as the primary means to remedying an unwanted pregnancy. Later, a film of a woman who chose to carry her baby to term was shown. The woman was shown her child whom she decided to give up for adoption. The woman was beside herself in grief because she immediately became attached to this child that she would never see again. The instructor used that as justification that the woman should have aborted the child and thereby avoided the postpartum difficulties. I cannot imagine the anguish that may be experienced by women over these issues (including miscarriages such as my wife and I experienced) but killing an innocent person should not be an option. The blood of millions of children who were not given a chance to take their first breath drip from our collective hands.

  20. David Bruce says:

    This whole discussion is just such a wonderful example of Christian legalism.

  21. David Bruce says:

    If a woman walked into any evangelical Bible church or home group, the day after having an abortion, an abortion resulting from consensual sex and done for convienience, and was blubbering repentant, and filled with shane and remorse, she would be met with grace. We are compelled to do just that. She would be told that she’s forgiven and that there’s no sin the cross of Christ can’t cover. She’d be prayed for and loved on.
    On the other hand, a woman sitting in the same group, pregnant from rape and bruised and battered from the beating she took at the hand of the rapist, who is suicidal and psychologically distraught at the prospect of carrying this violent criminal’s baby for nine months, would be reduced to being the whore of Babylon for even considering an abortion. Please, take your bag of rocks and go home.

  22. Andrew W says:

    David Bruce: “any …”.

    Please provide evidence of your claim. Not incidents – which I’m sure happen – but demonstration that your scenario is either a consistent application of policy or consistent behaviour despite policy.

    You’ve made a judgemental and possibly slanderous accusation against every single evangelical church in the world. Now put up or shut up.

  23. Neville Briggs says:

    While I agree with KDY’s pronouncement that “every innocent life deserves a chance to live ” I found it a puzzle that he should say this when he has written that he is an avid student of John Calvin.
    John Calvin has said “Scripture clearly proves that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure, one day, to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction ” Calvin’s Institutes Book 3, Chapter 7 .
    Perhaps Mr De Young is willing to explain how It seems that the God of John Calvin cruelly does not want to allow every innocent life a chance to live. This supposed God dooms people, not only before birth but before conception.
    Is KDY in severe disagreement with Calvin’s doctrine of God’s pleasure. I hope so.

    Fortunately, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel answers the question for us when he writes ” I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord God ”

    I think Mr KDY is right in his opposition to the practice of abortion on demand, but perhaps he should stick with Ezekiel instead of Calvin in order to be sure of moral consistency.

  24. kpolo says:

    @Esther Lee So you are saying killing babies is ok as long as baby parts are used for “scientific research?” Wow!

    With the 99.5% statistic, it is better to turn the question around and ask, “Would you join me in opposing abortion in the 99.5% of cases where it is not rape?” If the answer is no, then the question of rape is just a gotcha with no substance.

  25. Kyle says:

    Re: Patricia McCarthy


  26. Philmonomer says:


    With the 99.5% statistic, it is better to turn the question around and ask, “Would you join me in opposing abortion in the 99.5% of cases where it is not rape?” If the answer is no, then the question of rape is just a gotcha with no substance.

    It isn’t a gotcha question at all, for 2 reasons:

    1) A complete ban on all abortions (including rape) would mean that approximately 6,000-7,000 raped woman each year, who desire to receive an abortion, could not in fact receive one. That’s a lot of women, and its legitimate to ask about it.

    2) Most women realize that rape could happen to them. While it is statistically unlikely, I’m sure they think about it. And while it is even more unlikely that they would get pregnant from the rape, it is not an insignificant possibility (again it happens 6,000-7,000 times a year). Given this, women have a legitimate right to know where a politician stands on this issue.

  27. a. says:

    the question has come and these comments represent the ‘opinion’ battle within the body of Christ. 1) Christian, stay out of the ‘political’; 2) we live in an era of grace- we are still sinners-so give people grace to sin if they feel they must – remember ‘judge not lest ye be judged’- ‘this whole discussion is just such a wonderful example of Christian legalism, 3) God is Lord

  28. Patricia McCarthy says:

    Re: Kyle. God Bless you Kyle. I am happy to know there is at least one Christian out there who is willing to help a desperate woman and not just condemn women that are desperate. I always think of Jesus reaction to the woman accused of adultery, and cannot help but wonder where was the man who committed adultery with her, when she was ‘caught in the act’? And why were the other ‘men’ so anxious to stone her to death? Thank God Jesus came along to drown their religious fervour with his righteousness and truth. That work of Jesus, should be a caution all those who want to condemn women for being pregnant. Remember that it takes two people to make a baby, not one person. Women have to bear a greater burden for sexual sins because they are the ones who carry the ‘evidence’ that the man does not have to carry. Instead of carry banners outside abortion clinics, Christians should be carrying an address where the women will be given a safe home and all her needs be taken care of throughout the pregnancy, and an additional guarantee that she and her child will be taken good care of, and that the child and its mother will be provided with sufficient funds to take care of their essential needs, such as food, housing, clothing and education. May Our Lord and Saviour Jesus, release all that are struggling with the terrible burdens imposed on them by cruel hypocrites and deceitful men and women. Reference: Luke 11:46

  29. Martin says:

    After reading the post and most of the comments, a startling fact came to my attention. Nowhere is there affirmation given to a woman to choose abortion in the event of the rape. It is taken off the table. They do not have a choice other than sin.

    I am not one who does not struggle with or mourn the aftermath of abortion on demand. However, having a daughter, I look at the dilemma with the eyes and heart of a father toward his daughter. I would do everything to persuade her to bring forth life – including professional counseling and adoption of the child by her mother and I. But, in the end, it would be a decision my daughter would need to make.

    Putting the label of ‘murder’ on this situation is hyperbolic and not truly supported by Scripture. The claim that the fetus is a person at the point of conception has much merit, but it is still a matter of faith, as is the exercise of a woman’s freedom to choose the course she would take. I am inclined to support both.

    A black/white position on this topic is like tying an eighty-pound rock to the neck of a crippled woman, throwing her in a lake and telling her to swim.

  30. Sarah N. says:

    Re: Anonymous
    I am so sorry that happened to you and your friend. Not all church’s are like that, not all Christians are like that. Church’s aren’t perfect, not by a long shot, and neither are believers. We are flawed, sinful people who are members and leaders in flawed, sinful church’s. By God’s grace we thrive, and grow and learn from our mistakes.

    When I hear about church’s like that it makes me so sad, that’s not what church is supposed to be. It also makes me doubt that the people there are actually Christians. They sound lost and deceived, that sounds like a dead church. I’m sure you have since left, and if you haven’t please leave. Find a solid, gospel preaching church that supports and loves you. Find a church that exudes love. When visitors come to my church the comment is often “everyone is so nice here, so welcoming, I can tell everyone really loves each other.” That isn’t just a facade, we can’t fake that. We really love and support each other. We are a family and part of the family of God. We have been forgiven much so how can we not forgive much.

    I pray you find a good church and are surrounded by Christians that love and accept you.

  31. Royce says:

    Thank you Mr. DeYoung. Very well written. Now perhaps you can write an article that lays out your answers to David Bruce above and explain to him (and others) what it means to live in the “Age of Grace”. He’s about the 10th person in 3 days that I’ve read who seems to think that because we are in the “Age of Grace” that God simply winks at sin and obedience to laws such as “Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder” no longer applies.

  32. Cindy says:

    Many of these responses are so excessive and analytical that the point is often missed. It’s quite simple, whether you are a believer in Christ or not. A pregnant woman carries a human, a child, a life. It doesn’t matter how that life came to be. You would never say to a woman of an infant that it’s okay to kill the baby because you were just not ready, finances are tight, too difficult to achieve your educational goals or it was conceived by rape. No sane person would be okay with that. So why do we think it’s okay to end the life of a child just because it isn’t born yet? Makes no sense. I believe we have been brainwashed into this sort of thinking.

  33. Paul Janssen says:

    How many of the comments above have treated a woman who has become pregnant by rape as anything other than a “carrier”? Not much of a human being – though some have extended the ‘courtesy’ of granting the status of ‘victim.’ This notion of a woman as a neutral carrier is pretty antediluvian. So many have treated women as just some sort of nonce-being with no agency. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me for a (what I imagine) complementarian crowd. I feel like I’ve stepped back in time a century or so. Sad, imo.

  34. Aaron Ginn says:

    31 states allow a rapist to sue for parental rights to a child that was conceived by rape. If you favor forcing a rape vicitm to carry a child to term, you are also acquiescing to forcing a woman to have to deal with a rapist who wants access to his child. That’s unconscionable.

  35. Red says:

    @Aaron Are you arguing that the it is just for a convicted rapist to be able to sue for parental rights and win? Biblically speaking, convicted rapists have committed murder according to Deut. 22, and should thus have no right to sue for anything, because they should be executed for murder. Suggesting a person has the right to murder another human being because of a possible judicial process involving accused rapists (convicted or acquitted), is still as unsound of an argument as I’ve ever heard.

  36. Melody says:

    If we give grace to kill one human being then why can’t we give grace to kill all human beings?
    It’s called a pregnancy when people don’t want to acknowledge that we are talking abut a person. Look in the face of people that have been born of rape and tell them they have less right to the life God gave them.
    Who are we to play God and say it’s okay to end their life?

  37. Stephanie says:

    I have the same question of WoundedEgo. Are you running for president, Rev. DeYoung?

  38. Rachel H. says:

    Paul J. and Aaron G. allude to something I’ve been thinking while reading this article and the comments: if you are logically, theologically, and politically convinced that all abortion should be illegal in the United States where you are a registered voter and citizen (as I do and as I am), then your answer to the rape question MUST include–better yet, be completely based upon–a compassionate plan of support for the mother and the baby. Without that plan, your answer will always be judgmental, legalistic, graceless, and cruel, no matter how “right” you are. And as Jesus taught, if your actions are right but your heart is wrong, then you’re just wrong.

    A woman who has been raped and who God allows to conceive is a victim not only of a one-time assault. No, as she carries the baby, she will experience the assault over and over again: when she has to buy new clothes to accommodate her body; when strangers ask her happily, “When are you due?” or tell her, “You are glowing!”; when family or friends ostracize her for keeping or carrying the baby; when strangers judge her for being (if she is) unwed; when she has to tell her pastor or church leaders exactly how and why she is pregnant; when she tries to painstakingly select an adoptive family, hire a lawyer, and submit to their standards and give up all of her health history (which may include intensely personal things or past sins); when she has to take time off of work because of pregnancy-related issues; when she has to go to the doctor and discuss all these things happening to her own body as well as the baby’s; even after she delivers, when her body bears the scars and shapes of carrying a life for up to 10 months….. and each of these are simply “best case” scenarios, part of a normal, healthy pregnancy.

    This is not nothing. It is quite the opposite. And it reveals what I would call the MOST dangerous thing about advocating FOR abortion in rape situations: an abortion will help a woman avoid SOME of the painful physical effects of being impregnated by rape. But an abortion cannot heal that woman.

    If I were to need to defend my pro-life in the case of rape position, I would instead go FIRST to the mother and her distress. Countless women have testified to the harrowing consequences in heart and mind of their choices to abort, even in rape. For a woman already in emotional and psychological distress, encouraging abortion is a band-aid on a bullet wound–maybe even worse than that, it might even be making the wound worse. Abortion is the wrong solution for the baby, yes, and that is worth mentioning secondarily; but it is (equally, or maybe even more importantly, due to her victimhood) the wrong solution for the victimized mother. It is a further abuse and a deeper distress on a person who needs counsel, affirmation, and support.

    In fact, I would suggest that carrying and delivering the gift of a human life, whether for adoptive parents or to nurture and love for her own, could actually be the BEST medicine for the victimized mother. It is the definition of LIFE from DEATH, beauty from pain. It is a means of God’s grace that such a beautiful gift could be the result of a gross perversion of God’s order. It is a picture of God’s redemption, and it is quite possibly the very best path for God to heal her mind, body, and soul from her assault.


    If the pro-choice folks really care first and foremost about women’s health, then appeal to that when answering the rape question. Nurturing and delivering the baby may be the best or only true path to healing for the victim.

  39. Becky says:

    We started praying for a husband for our daughter when she was a baby. We believed that God would one day bring the man He wanted her to marry into her life. She met a young man when she was 17 and they dated for 4 years before marrying. My son-in-law (whom my husband and I love as another son) was conceived from a rape. His birth mother chose life, instead of abortion, and gave him up for adoption. He grew up in a godly home with wonderful parents. He is a blessing to us and a testimony that abortion is never the answer. I am so grateful that his birth mother chose life!

  40. Tim&Linda says:

    I’m absolutely pro-life and would argue for giving birth to a baby conceived by the act of rape / sexual assault. However, after reading the post and comments, I’m really surprised at the lack of depth in many of the responses.
    The fact that a fetus is a human life is not the final trump card in this ethical dilemma.
    If a maniacal government doctor, working for the CIA, kidnapped you and resolved to implant another human being in your body, to share all of your vital organs for 9 months in without your consent, in order for the person to be able to survive a deadly disease, would it be right for the government to force you to keep that person within your body, using your organs? Or should you have the option, once you regained consciousness to take a pill that would evict the poor, innocent soul, who invariably will perish through no fault of their own.
    It’s hypothetical, I know, but it’s closer to what’s really going on in terms of rape pregnancy.

    Besides, there is a Biblical precedent for a similar situations is ignored by most folks rather than grappled with:
    Numbers 5 – test for adultery which includes a forced miscarriage of the womb.
    Hosea 9:14, God will cause the deaths of the unborn, as he will “give them a miscarrying womb” for rebelliousness, and disobedience.
    In Genesis 38, Judah proclaimed that Tamar must be put to death in accordance with the law, and the unborn child with her, because the child was conceived in an unholy manner.

    In Exodus 21:22, the law states:
    “22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands….”

    Keep in mind, I’m not pointing out these things to try to argue for the pro-abortion position, but rather to help people understand that merely declaring that the fetus is a life, a baby, doesn’t completely get at all the nuances that are involved from an ethical or even Biblical standpoint.

  41. Nick Stuart says:

    May have missed it in the original post and some comments, but I’m not finding an unequivocal statement of “Yes, abortion should be illegal, even in the case of rape.”

    Happens I agree with DeYoung in all of the points he made. I believe abortion is wrong even in the case of rape.

    Sadly, because of the hardness of people’s hearts, if we want to get to where abortion is illegal in every case except rape, we’re going to have to allow the rape exception at least for the time being. It is the least worst solution.

    A lot of hearts and minds will have to be changed IN THE CHURCH, even to get to that point.

  42. I was the .5%. I was raped as a teenager, got pregnant, and had an abortion. It seemed the only option, but it left me with more guilt than you can possibly imagine. It was a second trauma that has been harder to deal with than the rape. The church needs to come along side those women who find themselves pregnant as a result of sexual assault and support them. They need to know the truth that abortion is not the solution to their problem. I am thankful for grace and forgiveness, and the knowledge that my child is in heaven now and I will meet her again some day.

  43. Ray says:

    Many thanks, Kevin, for raising this issue. This is a really tough one. I understand what you say:

    “… Let me just say in closing that I haven’t come to this conclusion lightly. The child … has finger nails, a beating heart, and the capacity to feel pain. We do not become human persons by traveling a few inches down the birth canal. Every innocent life deserves a chance to live.”

    But I think this closing statement is incomplete. If we are to enshrine the rights of this child then we surely must enshrine the right of support, dignity and honour to the mother and the child – for life. The violated woman must know that she has the full acceptance, support and sympathy for herself and her child in the church, let alone in state law. That needs to be clearly and unequivocally articulated and may be even set in stone in church constitutions/rules or state legislation. Otherwise, the above closing statement is not even cold comfort.

    Yet having said that, I’m not even sure that’s the answer. That might just paradoxically encourage rape – for the guilty gets off very lightly.

    I think you need to help me out here, Kevin; perhaps with a follow up article. I’m trying to look for Biblical principles. Let’s be clear, we know that neither of us are advocating literally implementation of OT Law here. But I’m just wondering if there are principles here to work out. 1. We clearly shouldn’t think of marriage in the OT sense as marriage in our contemporary version of it. 2. In the case of the unbetrothed woman, it seems that the Biblical principle is that sex must take place in the context of marriage, even if marriage is retrospective in this case. I think what this is saying is that the unbetrothed woman has the full lifelong right of comfort, support, dignity and love that belongs to a wife (and her child/children) when such a violation takes place. I think it would be right to assume that law presumes and expects a good marriage despite a horrendous start and, arguably, presumes that the society and the legal framework around them will see to that. So the guilty here has a lifelong obligation to make good. 3. In the case of a betrothed woman, the guilty forfeits his life. I also presume the expectation of scripture is that the pledge bridegroom will still love, support and comfort his girl no matter what, and treat the child as theirs – a high calling indeed. I’d argue that there’s no expectation that he will “divorce her quietly” (the case of Joseph and Marry is different in any case – which is a suspicion of promiscuity and not rape).

    As I said, help me out here and keep going, Kevin. You do a great job of teaching and guiding us and helping us think on TGC. If the above observations are at least in the right direction, how do we work them out in our contemporary setting? How do we make sure the guilty does not get off lightly and how do we protect the innocent? If I’m barking up the wrong tree, please do correct me.

  44. Jacob Park says:

    Don’t forget that many miscarriages (where the fetus had to be removed) are counted as Abortions (adding to the statistics, please be sensitive). Also, there are cases in which the life of both the baby and the mother are at stake (i.e. both will die if the abortion does not happen, as in the case of many ectopic pregnancies). It’s a terrible tragedy.

    That said, Abortion should in NO CASE be a matter of convenience. In the case of rape. It’s terrible that it happened, and no one should ever make light of that. But, life begins at conception. And there is hope for every life in Christ alone.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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