Arizona’s pro-life law has no rape exceptions because none are necessary

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When a judge in Arizona upheld pre-statehood protections for pre-born babies, the media and some pro-abortion politicians predictably went wild. The text of the law, codified in 1901, grants only one exception in which abortion is allowed: if the mother’s life is in danger. (Click here for more regarding lifesaving interventions for pregnant women.)

On The View, host Alyssa Farrah Griffin declared the lack of more exceptions regressive: “When you don’t have exceptions for rape and incest and life of the mother, you are going so far backward.”

Pro-abortion Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly also blasted the absence of “even an exception for rape or incest” as extreme, according to ABC News, and he pledged to “never stop fighting to restore these rights for Arizona women.” The White House released a statement saying that pro-life protections “will set Arizona women back more than a century.” National abortion chain Planned Parenthood called the ruling “unacceptable” and decried the denial of “medical care” to the people of Arizona. Even Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted about the decision, calling rape and incest exceptions “critical health needs.” 

But a closer examination of the issue reveals that there is no legitimate need to kill an innocent human being in such circumstances. 

Preborn babies are human beings, no matter how they were conceived

Rape is a horrific tragedy and an unspeakable violation – on this simple fact, all can agree. Rape causes immense suffering and deep trauma on almost every level, and victims need compassion to begin to heal from the violent trauma that was so unjustly inflicted upon them. Abortion activists – and even some politicians who describe themselves as pro-life – support policy exceptions allowing abortion for rape survivors, with the implication that abortion is a part of their healing process, and as a way to “get rid” of the result of the woman’s victimization.

But that proposition, no matter how well intentioned, is deeply flawed. 


The tragedy and trauma of rape cannot be solved by attempting to erase the human dignity of a preborn baby who results from the rape. Rape is the result of someone else’s action; the child should not be punished his or her father’s crime, and has no bearing on his own existence. His presence is not an attack on his mother. Even so grevious a crime as rape cannot diminish the transcendent human dignity of either the victim or the preborn baby. A preborn child conceived in rape is no less a human being than any other, and is deserving of the same legal protections as any human — including his mother — no matter the act that preceded his conception (fertilization).

Speaking up for the human dignity of the preborn child is in no way cruel, nor is it a re-victimization of the woman. With respect to such a fundamentally important question, recognizing the truth sets us free by helping us understand the way ahead for authentic healing. 

Abortion does not bring healing, but a second trauma

Abortion activists and even some pro-life politicians frame abortion as a compassionate response to rape. In reality, telling rape victims that they should get an abortion is insensitive and misguided. Abortion is a violent act, and healing does not come from violence. Abortion doesn’t undo the violence of rape – nothing can do that, a fact witnessed to by many women who chose abortion after rape and now live with enduring grief and regret.

A woman who has been raped needs healing and help, something that abortion cannot offer. Rather than encouraging rape victims to end the lives of their preborn babies, we should seek authentic healing for women. Promoting abortion as a solution subjects rape victims to a second trauma from which now they must also recover, and deprives them of mental, emotional, and physical resources that could be put towards finding authentic healing. Disposing of an inconvenient human does not bring healing. On the other hand, many rape survivors have shared their experiences about how giving birth to their babies has been profoundly healing

“People will tell you that a raped woman who conceives will feel rage and anger and disgust toward her baby. And I’ve spoken to hundreds and hundreds of women, and that is just not true,” said rape survivor Jennifer Christie, who had experienced what she described as tremendous pressure to abort. Speaking of her first ultrasound, she related how the experience changed her: “I saw a little dot, and it flickered… and I knew what that was. And for the first time since I had been raped, I felt that light inside me again. And I smiled, because that little flicker on the screen, to me, was hope and joy and light.”

Another rape victim, Ann, placed her daughter for adoption but carried her photo for 48 years — until her daughter, Juda Myers, tracked her down for an emotional reunion. Myers recounted the healing words of her mother: “Honey, stop your crying. I have forgiven those men, and look what God has done. He brought you back to me. God is faithful.”

Liz Carl was drugged and raped as a high schooler at age 17. She gave her son life, and placed him for adoption. “Honestly,” she said, “I’ve never looked at him and seen anything but my precious child.”

Justice means punishing the rapist, not the survivor or the preborn baby

Rape is a violent act of aggression, an abuse of power perpetrated against an innocent victim. Abortion is of a similar nature – a violent, aggressive act against an innocent victim. Both are violations of another person’s body. Rape and abortion are both wrong, for the same reason. The way to break the cycle begun by the rapist is not to perpetuate the act of violence by transferring it to another innocent person, who had no say in his or her existence. Rather, justice must be pursued against the rapist who commits an act of violence. In a similar way, abortion involves the commission of an act of violence, and those who commit it should be held accountable.

As the struggle to protect human life continues state-by-state, pro-lifers should boldly stand behind laws, like those in Arizona, that afford sweeping protections for the rights of preborn babies. Allowing exceptions that promote the violence of abortion for difficult circumstances like rape is actually a misguided, insensitive, and deeply flawed response – one that only obstructs true and lasting healing.

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