Author’s Note: The following column is based on a real life conversation,
which occurred last May. It originally appeared on
www.ClashDaily.com in July.
Teenager: Dr. Adams, may I have a few minutes to speak with you?
Me: Sure. What is your name? (Gives name).
Teen: I enjoyed listening to your talk on abortion just a few minutes ago. Your
points were solid. But I have just one problem. It’s with the rape exception.
Can you honestly tell me that you could look a rape victim in the eye and tell
her that she could not have an abortion and that she must take the rapist’s baby
Me: (pulls out phone). Yes. Give me the number of any pregnant rape victim you
know and I will call her right now and talk to her. I can’t look her in the eye
but I will talk to her.
Teen: (Laughing nervously). I don’t know any pregnant rape victims.
Me: Well, before I put my phone up, can I ask a favor of you?
Me: I have a friend who was conceived in rape. Do you mind if I call her and
give you the phone so you could explain why it would be permissible for her be
killed just because she was conceived in rape? Her mother is still alive, by the
way. I’m sure that her continued existence reminds her mother of the rape. My
friend’s name is Laura.
Teen: No, I won’t do that. She shouldn’t be killed, now. That isn’t my position.
Me: Oh, I see. You think that there is some difference between the adult she is
now and the embryo she once was that would have justified killing her at that
earlier stage of development.
Teen: I see what you are doing. This is the SLED thing, isn’t it?
Me: Yes it is. Size, level of development, environment (whether she is inside or
outside of the womb), and degree of dependency. These are the four differences
people generally rely upon when they say you can kill the unborn but not the
born. Which one is it?
Teen: Well, none of them, I guess. I see your point.
Me: Good. Now, let’s talk about who benefits when the child conceived in rape is
Me: Would I, or any of the close friends of Laura, have benefited from her death
at the hands of the abortion doctor? I mean, would it not have been a tragedy
had her friends never known her?
Teen: Well, yes, I suppose it would have been a tragedy.
Me: Well, how about Laura? Would she have benefited from the abortion?
Teen: No, of course not.
Me: Ok, then who benefits?
Teen: Well, the rape victim benefits. Obviously.
Me: But is it really obvious?
Teen: I think it is.
Me: You know if a woman becomes pregnant through consensual sex and has a crisis
pregnancy it is a toss-up as to whether she will have the abortion. But if she’s
raped and becomes pregnant then the chances she’ll abort are much lower.
Teen: How much lower?
Me: The odds are about three to one that she won’t abort. It may seem
counterintuitive but it really isn’t difficult to understand upon further
consideration. She’s just been the victim of a violent crime. She identifies
with the evil of violence and is reluctant to inflict it on another human being.
So she usually decides to suffer evil rather than inflict it.
Teen: I’ll have to think about that one.
Me: Good. It will give me time to ask you another question.
Me: You believe that the woman impregnated by a rapist will suffer great stress
bringing the baby to term. You obviously believe that the abortion will reduce
that stress. But your argument turns on the assertion that the stress saved by
the abortion will actually outweigh any guilt she might experience over the
memory of the abortion for the duration of her life. Is that a fair
characterization of your reasoning?
Teen: Yes, that’s fair enough.
Me: Well, how did you arrive at that conclusion? Can you point me to some
Teen: No, I was just speculating.
Me: Well, you haven’t convinced me that the pregnant woman really benefits. The
abortion doesn’t solve the problem. She suffers terribly regardless. But when
those conceived in rape are aborted there are multiple tragedies. One human is
deprived of life, one adoptive couple loses a child, and others are deprived of
ever knowing the innocent child who would have had a long life and formed many
friendships. I think that the weight of the evidence is against the abortion. I
just cannot see who really benefits from the abortion.
Teen: Well maybe I just have some maturing to do as I think about this issue.
Me: I’m not sure it’s really a thinking problem.
Teen: What do you mean?
Me: You have a steady girlfriend, don’t you?
Teen: Yes, I do.
Me: Are you sleeping with her?
Teen: What? I’m not answering that question.
Me: Well, you don’t have to answer it. You just did. You’re sleeping with her.
Teen: Ok … what does that have to do with the discussion?
Me: Well, everything.
Teen: Please explain.
Me: Every time I am in a discussion of abortion that turns to the so called rape
exception, there are two common denominators. First, it is always a guy. Second,
he’s always sexually active. If he is sleeping with a lot of women he really
supports unrestricted abortion. So he just feigns concern for the rape victim in
order to preserve unrestricted abortion so he can have unrestricted sex. Then
there are guys like you who are just sleeping with a girlfriend and want to
preserve a tiny crack in the wall — a safety valve just in case you get into
trouble. The idea of an absolute ban on abortion makes you nervous because you
are taking risks you know you ought not to be taking.
Teen: I guess everything you are saying makes sense. Maybe I just need to grow
Me: No, not really. You pulled me aside and started this conversation because
your conscience was bothering you. You weren’t really worried about the rape
issue. You were worried about your own circumstances. That’s why it took courage
to initiate the conversation. You knew I wasn’t going say things you wanted to
hear. You were mature at the beginning of this conversation and you are even
more mature now.
Me: Now it is time to stop treating you girlfriend like she’s already your wife.
It will clear your mind and help you make better decisions on a whole range of
moral issues. Remember that it is always better to decide what you believe and
let your beliefs guide your behavior. When it’s the other way around, you become
lost and you eventually lose your moral compass altogether. You eventually
become a law unto yourself.
Teen: Well, how do I explain this to my girlfriend?
Me: Well, that should be easy. Tell her you are not yet ready to be a parent.
Tell her that if she became pregnant it would be your child, too. Make sure you
look her in the eye and firmly tell her that you could never allow her to abort
your child. In other words, start living your life according to rules instead of
clinging to exceptions.
Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina
Wilmington and author of
Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting
Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.