The Rape Exception

This file combines some earlier writings about the rape exception, beginning with a portion of a recent email to a LinkedIn connection who focuses on this matter.

We (pro-life people) have said much about how abortion harms women physically, emotionally and (can't prove this one) spiritually, but I'm claiming that it also harms women socially in that legal abortion says women are so fragile, even child-like that they can't be expected to be responsible for their own actions in becoming pregnant. There's a similar message in the rape exception. It says that women, unlike men, can't handle adversity and must be allowed this deadly way out. You'll find this in slightly different words in one of my charts (see Political Strategy at chart 67) which tears up the pro-choice label.

One of my rape ideas goes something like this: Whether you like it or not, in nearly every human society or culture, one of the roles of the males is to protect the females close to them. Whether it is his wife, daughter, mother, sister or just the women or girls in his village, clan, ethnic group, etc., if any of them are pregnant by hostile males it is damning evidence that the man/men responsible for protecting them have failed in a most humiliating way. Abortion eliminates the evidence of that failure and gets the males off the hook but subjects the females to all the negative consequences of abortion, especially as exacerbated by the rape. It is anything but a pro-woman action.

In my informal talk on the War on the Unborn given in 1986 to a small group of self-perceived peace activists ( I tried to draw an analogy to rape by comparing it with a theory they seemed to embrace called Civilian Based Defense. I've included an entry on this in the Glossary of Abortionism ( Most of these people were Birthist Abortionites ( Here's what I said in the talk:

"Rape and Civilian Based Defense
I tried to find a parallel between the situation of rape and the usual circumstances we think of as war. And it first struck me that there were many possible but inadequate parallels to war as I thought about this. The moral seemed to be that there are many circumstances in life that force us to make unhappy compromises and difficult choices to seek the higher good. But as I thought about it, I came to what I think is a very good parallel. Consider a woman forced to carry a child; forced by a rapist. She faces a choice. She can destroy the child by the additional violence of abortion or endure the emotional and physical hardship of carrying it to term for the higher good of preserving the life of her innocent child. And it is *her* innocent child. Likewise, a nation invaded by an aggressor, rapist nation, faces a choice. It can resist under Just War criteria by the violence of war, or, in order to avoid killing, endure the hardship of bearing the unwanted child of the rapist nation: Its occupation army. This group welcomed the concept of civilian based defense as an alternative to the violence of war, even against a culpable aggressor, yet seems willing to tolerate, at least it seems from what I gather, the violence of abortion committed against the totally innocent, who may have been conceived through rape. [1996 note - Civilian Based Defense is a pacifistic approach which calls for active but non-violent resistance to an aggressor through non-cooperation, even in the face of considerable cost in lives]"

Perhaps my thoughts on the rape exception are most influenced by my own direct experience. In 1972, the year I turned 20 years old, the government did away with student deferments and I was entered in a draft lottery for the Vietnam War. The government was claiming a power to confiscate my entire life for its purposes to deal with matters I had absolutely nothing to do with causing. They were prepared to take me from my studies (or job), family and familiar surroundings, compel my labor at terribly low pay and at long hours 24/7 for as long as deemed necessary, train me for war and subject me to its horrors against people who had done nothing to me and whom I had nothing against. I drew a high lottery number and wasn't called but there's a wall in Washington bearing the names of many who weren't so lucky. Every one of them had permanent changes made to his body (a claim I've heard about pregnancy). Even those who survived the war often had permanent changes made to their bodies, their minds and their souls. But they were men. They were understood to have responsibilities to their country even for things they had no part in causing. Not so for women. And look at the difference in outcomes. We are the freest nation on earth (thanks to sacrifices overwhelmingly by men) but have over a million abortions every year because of the damage done to the ethic of the sanctity of human life because women have no obligation to carry through the normal and natural process of pregnancy, even when it isn't forced upon them.

I asked a friend who's a little older than I and enlisted in the Army for Vietnam because it was obvious he was going to be drafted. He was paid $50 per month at the outset, a small fraction of the minimum wage at that time (I made $2.50 per hour in 1974) and yet had very little time to himself. The experience cost him four years of his life with much adverse impact on his lifetime earnings and his education. He never completed college even though he has a very high IQ. Yet women can't accept the few months of inconvenience and discomfort that usually accompanies pregnancy. I realize there can be other problems, but statistically they pale in comparison to what men have been subjected to. And the government hasn't abolished the draft with the all volunteer military. It can still be activated.

Forgive me if I preach a little more. Some women claim they want equality with men, but they really don't. They want equality with God. Actually, that's being generous. More accurately they want to BE God. They want to replace God and have the power to decide life and death for others. This is the Theological Abortion ( - see also the Glossary again). And yet they don't want any responsibility for their own actions in becoming pregnant. They will never be equal to men and won't deserve to be. The adverse social impact on women of legal abortion will carry over even to those women who would have the courage and principles to accept pregnancy, even in cases of rape. We pay for the bad behavior of our peers -- or those perceived to be our peers.

That's pretty much what I have to say on the subject. I'm sorry if I've offended you at all but I'm thoroughly tired of having the rape exception used to destroy pro-life efforts. Here's a letter to the editor I wrote about that around 1995-1996: (also pasted in below):

"Rape is history's most effective, cynical and deadly wedge issue. Because most people can imagine themselves or someone close to them pregnant by rape, raising this repugnant specter renders the humanity of the prenatal child irrelevant, regardless of ethical principles. As with other "hard case" wedges, it is only the power to control one's own situation that matters when such emotional possibilities are presented. The nature of the unborn baby, the only reason to oppose abortion, is unchanged by rape. The child is actually a second victim of the crime. Exceptions for rape call for a sellout on principle. The weakening or demolition of protective laws by demands for rape or other exceptions has turned the vast majority of abortion victims into collateral damage at rates approaching one hundred percent. These children are the primary victims of the wedge. But those who have morally degraded themselves by falling for such ploys are secondary victims. From the false claim of rape in Roe v. Wade to the federal government's coercing of the states over Medicaid, the rape wedge has been standard operating procedure for abortion zealots. Those who deal in wedge issues know that when it comes to Number One they can count on many to spurn principle and revert to outcome-based morality."

One last thing. Obviously, I'm not a woman and can't get inside their heads about feeling threatened by rape. I'm sure there are still many women who have traditional views on sexual relations but it does seem odd to me that so many can talk about rape being such a "horrible" crime when sex is otherwise treated very casually. The attitudes I read about these days strike me as incredible. Why would anyone expect rape to be such a big deal with casual attitudes seeming so prevalent? I briefly mentioned what I call "rodentism" in one of my charts (in Political Strategy chart 67 again). You may find it too true and possibly amusing. [End of email excerpts]

Here's another letter to the editor (don't recall when it was composed) dealing with the social effects of the rape exception on women. It's another attempt to attack the core of our opposition's beliefs that abortion, with or without a rape exception, empowers, ennobles or otherwise enhances the lives of women.

"Rape exceptions in protective abortion laws convey the message that women are so fragile -- even childlike -- that society can demand no sacrifices from them (as it can from men) in order to protect critical principles. Our nation has drafted men (and formerly accepted even very young boys) into the armed forces in large numbers for indefinite periods, exposed them to the horrors of war, and caused them to lose their lives or their physical or mental health for the remainder of their lives in order to protect our freedoms. The result is we are the freest nation on earth. But we regard it as unacceptable to demand that even a very small number of women be required to continue the normally healthy process of pregnancy for its known and limited period, albeit under emotionally stressful circumstances, in order to protect the sanctity of life. The result of falling for the rape wedge issue has been abortion on demand for any reason, by any means, at any time in pregnancy, with many adverse social consequences due to the cheapening of the value of life.

The rape wedge functions by driving people from an intellectual state to an emotional state where reason is irrelevant. It is even more effective on men than women because it threatens their very identity as protectors of the women close to them (wife, daughter, mother, sister, etc.). But research has shown that women who carry rape pregnancies to term have far better outcomes for having sacrificed, heroically triumphed over evil and brought forth good in spite of it (see, search on 'rape'). The fact is that women can deal with it even though rape exceptions say otherwise.

The song goes, 'I am strong. I am invincible.' But the rape exception says, 'You are weak. You can't handle adversity.' Women will always be second class so long as we accept patronizing and condescending policies that cynically and needlessly expose women and prenatal children to the deadly and exploitative violence of abortion."