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October 27, 2008

No Exceptions for Life

Fetus I appreciate what South Dakota legislators are trying to do, but putting exceptions on an abortion ban is like giving someone a list (no matter how short) of justifications for murder. By watering down the legislation to make abortion appealing to a broader audience, they're negating the point: that all life is sacred! Yes, even life that was created through circumstances as horrible as rape or incest.

Rape is traumatic enough. Let's not allow women to suffer the horrendous experience of abortion as well. After all, we can no longer play dumb about the tragic effects that abortion has had on countless women (and men).

And, let's not forget the transforming truth that can be found in the midst of tragedy--that even the child of a rape or incest could have a life full of hope and possibility.

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While Zoe is exactly right about each unborn child's life having sacred worth, on a practical level we have the opportunity to get enough consensus to ban all but approximately seven percent of the abortions in America today.

Rape, incest, life of the mother exceptions account for that small percentage of abortions. And while many more abortions would still take place even with a new law that more accurately reflected the majority's sentiments, at least we would have a law on the books that was heading in the right direction.

I realize that this may sound like "wiggle room" talk, but the victim of a rape or of incest could make a rather convincing case that their life is threatened, so that's why I think many people can lump rape and incest in with life of the mother. To carry a rapist's baby to term, even with the baby being innocent as can be, would take a remarkable woman, i.e. rare.

But to appear to have reasonableness on the side of the pro-life issue on the other 93% is powerful and could save many lives. And isn't that what it's about? Truth is truth, and it's hard to yield on matters of core concerns.

In short, we're never going to be able to get the whole loaf on this issue. But many people can rally to our cause in general if we make our goal reachable.

The seven percent are the most tragic of all. But the 93 percent deserve to live, too.


I'm going to agree with Stephen here. Laws in a democracy are about compromise, not necessarily about absolute right and wrong. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Pass this law and work on people's hearts to end the rest of the still legal abortions.



Thank you.


I would add, however, that, in all other ways for quickening the conscience of America, there is nothing wrong and everything right about highlighting ANY and ALL unborn human life. This includes the more difficult cases discussed by Zoe. We need to do this in the name of taking up for them generally and piercing people's consciences about all human life being sacred.

In other words, all law changing aside for a minute, people do need to see the children of rape and incest as members of the human family, too. There is a cost and a consequence anytime ANY child is killed. Eventually, maybe people would be more open to see such children as not mere fruit of unfortunate actions.

Frankly, after being involved in these kinds of legislative arguments since college, I'm more and more convinced that the way to save children's lives is by pouring one's time, money, and prayers into pro-life outreach groups who deal one-on-one in a humane way with women in crisis.

We should certainly express our beliefs at the ballot box and for legislation we endorse. However, regardless of what the law is at a given time, we will always have women who need help with this kind of dilemma. That is where the real action is and always will be.

Now comes the question that challenges me: so why don't I do more for this most important of issue? At least make more of a contribution of time or money somehow? Jim Heigl's wife, Marilyn, is with a tremendous pro-life group here in Loudoun County.

They do remarkable work with women: compassionate and certainly on the side of life. Dr. Dobson's son, Ryan, spoke last year at their annual fundraising dinner, and gave a whopping testimony as an adopted child himself.


Stephen and Matt, thanks for your thoughts. But, I still feel like agreeing to the lesser of two evils is like allowing a small crack which could widen so far that the pro-life argument simply falls apart.

I agree with what Tim Challies writes on his blog:
"It is my conviction that some evangelicals and pro-lifers have given away the moral high ground by making a false and irrational distinction between children who are conceived by choice (or at least by the choice to engage in sexual intercourse) and children who are conceived by rape or incest (though, of course, most incest is also rape). If the argument against abortion was "You made a bad decision, now deal with it!" then this argument would make sense. Those who did not choose to have a child would be exonerated and could justly terminate their pregnancies. But this is not our argument. The argument from Scripture is simple: a fetus is a human being. A fetus has the same "humanness" as an adult and thus has the same right to life. A fetus is fully human. A fetus is as fully human if she is conceived by choice as if she is conceived by brutal force. Of course I affirm that rape is a horrific crime--undoubtedly one of the worst crimes a person could commit and one whose full spiritual, physical, mental and emotional impact I am sure I cannot adequately understand. But the brutality of the crime does not change the fact that is indisputable from Scripture--even a child conceived by rape is fully human."


This last part of the quote from Chailles is indeed hard to deny:

"But the brutality of the crime does not change the fact that is indisputable from Scripture--even a child conceived by rape is fully human."

But...while I'm sure this will lead to slippery slope subjectivism outcries, the fact remains that asking a woman who never saw it coming, who was an involuntary player in the drama, and who now gets to endure watching the fruit of the rapist's act grow inside her daily for nine months is a far, far cry from the knowingly irresponsible acts that account for most other situations involving an unwanted pregnancy.

Is the child within either womb sacred? Yes. Is the woman who has been raped but who has decided to have the child a hero? Yes.

But if we acknowledge that she is a hero even more than the woman who at least did the right thing in having the accidental child of her lover, then we are saying something, aren't we?

Yes. We are saying that it is a much more difficult situation when we speak of rape, incest, and life to the mother.
Doesn't change the sacredness of the child one bit! But the child is effectively trapped in a much more difficult situation, co-joined in that situation with the mother.

Tragic! But make no mistake. You're askign for heroics, not just responsibility, from the victim of rape or incest, or the mother facing a serious life-threatening illness. I don't buy that "health of the mother" exception, as it's an exception one can roll a Mack truck through. But the traditional three, tightly contrued, merely acknowledges that these three areas are beyond responsibility and into the area of heroics.

So...what to do if one wants to be a consistent pro-lifer as Zoe suggests? Well, I think we need to always at least
give some detailed empathy for these more tender situations, to at least show that we are seriously aware of what we are asking of the woman in such circumstances.

It's akin to asking a paraplegic to play soccer. And to score several goals.


The argument from Scripture is simple: a fetus is a human being. A fetus has the same "humanness" as an adult and thus has the same right to life.

Many people put forth this arguement, yet it is not supported by scriptures at all. The Scriptures clearly make a distinction between the born and unborn.

Yet even if one were to agree with the "fully human" arguement, this leads to a horrible and inescapable conclusion - that unborn children that are aborted or who perish through a miscarriage are unrepentant sinners in the eyes of God and are therefore condemned to spend eternity apart from Him.

This conclusion destroys the argument that abortion kills an "innocent" life. While the life may be "innoncent" in the eyes of man, it is not "innocent" in the eyes of God. The life is a sinner. Unless God has established some sort of special dispensation for the unborn, the conclusion that must be drawn is that the life is condemned for eternity.

If you want to say that the fetus has the same "humanness" as an adult, that assertion comes with consequences, one of which has to be that the life is not "innocent."

Benjamen R. Meyer

I have to agree with Zoe on this one.

There is only one reason for abortion - to save the mother's life when and only when both the mother's and baby's life are in danger of being lost and the baby is beyond being able to be saved. That may be hard for many to face, but that would be the only medical reason to do so. There is no ethical or moral reason for an abortion beyond the medical reason.

There is also no medical support for aborting a baby from rape or incest. It is far more healthy for the mother to carry to term than to abort. There are numerous studies supporting that (most linking abortion and depression!) - and no study supports abortion when taking into account the long term psychological effect on the mother and families.

Now I would agree that it takes a strong women to carry to term for rape, but friends and family can certainly be supportive and that would make all the difference. And I would further that it would take an even stronger women to keep the child after birth, as opposed to giving the child up for adoption, and again her friends and family make all the difference.

God will require an accounting for all life (Genesis 9:5-6, http://tinyurl.com/5lte6z) - there is no distinction between born and unborn. There is also no distinction of beliefs, or anything else.

Gina Dalfonzo

Stephen, you make some excellent points. But look at the bigger picture.

Those who recommend that women pregnant by rape have an abortion, are essentially suggesting that they undergo a second traumatic procedure that will most likely leave them emotionally wounded (and possibly physically wounded as well, given that the safety standards at many U.S. abortion clinics -- yes, even in these days of "safe, legal, and rare" -- are a joke.)

Read the testimonies of women who aborted after rape. Relief is not the predominant note. Some of them feel as if they were violated, not once, but twice.

It's sad, but abortion is no more of an "easy out" for the woman impregnated by rape than it is for the woman who had consensual sex. Whatever choice she makes will be difficult. To carry a child conceived in rape is not something any of us would wish on a woman. But to give the child life -- and possibly even to give it to a loving family -- at least allows her to take back some control and bring some goodness and grace into a terrible situation.


Stephen, asking for that heroism is simply asking someone not to commit a murder of the innocent bystander who reminds you of the evil that was done to you. That is NOTHING like asking a paraplegic to play soccer. It is asking someone to not murder their own baby, made by God in the Image and Likeness of God, where the argument for murder is unpleasant memories - which won't even go away, but be added to, if the murder is contracted with the assassin.

We are -all- called to moral heroism every day. It is simply choosing fealty to Christ instead of some other god.

gitarcarver, Your claims are false and specious. The term 'innocent' in this case is used not in a theological sense but in the legal sense of 'not guilty of any death penalty crimes under the jurisdiction of the civil governors'. But you knew that, didn't you? And of course the Bible does not make a distinction between babies in the womb or out of the womb. The baby in the womb (em-bryphos in Greek) John the Baptist lept for joy at the presence of the baby in the womb Jesus; God the Son. The penalty God gave to the civil government to enforce for accidentally inducing a miscarriage was bruise for bruise, burn for burn, eye for eye, limb for limb, life for life.

To my knowledge there is no case where an abortion would be less physically traumatic for the mother than giving birth. In any case all medical personnel are obligated to try to save the lives of both the mother and the baby, and are forbidden by their oaths from committing murder by abortion or deadly medicine.


All of this discussion reminds me of a book I read several years ago: Atonement Child by Christian novelist Francine Rivers. It's a story about a girl who was raped and decides to carry the baby to term. Throughout this process, her fiance decides not to marry her, and (if I remember correctly) even her Christian parents urge her to go ahead with an abortion. The end shows the bittersweet beauty that a decision like this can bring. While I don't remember if the novel was based on a true story, it would be interesting to discover if there are any real life examples of this type of pro-life courage.



Thank you for your response. I am sorry that you missed my post where I said that the term "innocent" would have to be in the eyes of man (law of man) for otherwise the aborting of a fetus or even the miscarriage of a fetus would result in the separation of the fetus from God. But you knew that, didn't you? Yet you argued a point which I had already made as if to somehow discredit me.

Thank you for bringing up John the Baptist leaping in the womb. All babies leap and move within the womb, so the action itself is not miraculous or proof of anything other than the fetus moves. That is quite different from saying that the fetus has a soul and is fully human from conception.

Finally, your point about miscarriage and civil law within the Old Testament proves the exact opposite of what you are saying. The passage is explicit: if the only injury is the miscarriage (the expulsion of the fetus from the womb) no penalty other than a fine shall be dispensed. However, if there is more injury to the woman (the mother) than the penalty shall be "bruise for bruise, burn for burn, eye for eye, limb for limb, life for life." Clearly God does distinguish the difference between life in the womb and life outside the womb or else the penalties for ending either would be the same. They are not.

If there is not a difference between the born and the unborn, then please answer the following:
Why in Leviticus 27:6 is a census commanded by God that does not count a child under the age of one month? Why are those in the womb not counted in the census as well if there is no difference between born and not born?
Why in Gen 38:24 does Judah demand that his pregnant wife be burned without pause or consideration for the twins within her?
Why in Ezekiel 37:8-10 does God not consider the army alive until He breathes life into them?
Why is Adam not "alive" until God breathes life into him?

If there is no difference between the humanness of life within the womb and life outside of the womb, please explain how the life within the womb can be "saved" and cleansed of sin?


Nope, you are misreading the Text. It does not limit the matter of harm to the mother. Apparently you are one who does not believe the Bible in the first place (your dismissal of John the Baptist's reaction to the presence of Jesus in Mary's womb), so arguing with you on that basis is pointless.

When does a human life begin? At fertilization by any scientific definition. After that all you have is growth. It is at fertilization that the new human comes into being with his or her unique DNA. Ths is incontrovertable. The counter argument is that the government, or the mother, gets to decide to confer 'personhood' at some completely arbitrary point. That is tyranny and a violation of the Declaration of Independence. How a civilization treats its weak is the test of a civilization.


You make some interesting points. And, you've obviously done your homework. While I don't consider the Ezekiel passage or the Adam reference as compelling, the Leviticus passage raises some difficult questions, including in the discrepancy in the "monetary value" between the male and female children (but that's a conversation for another time and another day). But, I would have to say that a census isn't the same thing as a "humanness determiner." I would think that even most staunch pro-lifers wouldn't be in favor of including the unborn in the census. However, if you have any further thoughts on this, I'd be interested to hear them.


Gina, we are talking about process here, about "how do we reach people's hearts and minds." And indeed it IS asking more of someone who has been raped or the victim of incest to carry that sacred life to term than someone who got pregnant through the more traditional means.

It is absolutely naive to believe that it isn't asking more of such an individual. I do not dispute, never have, that the individual fetus is any less sacred in the case of rape or incest. "Then how can you make an exception?"

Only because of the other, actual circumstances that make it much more difficult--morally and emotionally--for the woman carrying the child.

I subscribe to the notion that ALL life is of equal worth. The child of a rape is co-equal to the child created through more normal circumstances. But so, too, is the mother's life sacred. I've laid out my arguments about when there are exceptions that at least have to be considered, in my opinion.

Do you have any? At what point is the mother's life considered? As mentioned, I don't buy the "health of the mother" exceptions used by some to create gigantic loopholes, morally or legally. But if the mother's life is truly in the balance, then it is now HER life that is threatened, albeit unintentionally and innocently by the fetus.

Finally, while we are each summoned to moral and spiritual courage in this life, it is certainly obvious that some are called to it more than others by the circumstances they face, sometimes (as in the case of a rape or incest) through no fault of their own.

So no, I don't think most of us have to face such a terrible situation, thank God. It's easy to call on others for heroics that you will never have to face yourself. That may not change one's view of scriptural truth, but it sure better make each of us understand the depth of the situation as best we can.

Gina Dalfonzo

Stephen, I think you may have misunderstood me. I didn't say that asking the mother to carry to term after a rape wasn't asking more of her. What I said was that even in such a case, abortion would not be an easy out.
We talk a great deal about the emotional, spiritual, and physical consequences of abortion. Those don't go away just because the aborted pregnancy was caused by rape.

You're right that we're asking the mother for heroics -- but don't forget that we're asking her for something else as well. We're asking her not to subject herself to further pain and suffering. Because that's what abortion causes.


I do see what you and others are saying now, namely that two wrongs don't make a right. And I also see that you're not saying that in a strictly moralistic sense but also out of care for both the child and the mother. Personally, I think it would be a beautiful act of God-given grace for a woman in that situation to not only give birth to the child but to have a great peace about it all. And I believe such things are possible. But it also seems that we all agree on how difficult it would be, and that's all I am really getting at.

Again, all law aside for a minute, everyone in this discussion agrees that if we can be there for any woman in any pregnancy, we are called to be supportive and helpful, both to the truth and to the woman.

I don't believe any woman, despite their being the one living the situation, has the right to re-write scripture or truth. But I'm sure we can all understand how the chips are stacked against the optimum decision when you're dealing with something that horrible.

All the more reason to be there for them, in whatever way the Holy Spirit tells us is most appropriate.

Gina Dalfonzo

Stephen -- that's sort of what I was saying. But to make it even clearer and more specific, you could say that two assaults don't make for relief. (I know that's awkwardly phrased, but hopefully it gets the point across.)

Leia Peison

benjamin r meyer; the testimonies of SOME rape victims after abortion. i know rape victims that have aborted and years later are fine. you are imposing trauma on these women by insinuating that they should feel traumatized by it. women are not walking wombs. they are full fledged human beings with feelings and desires unlike a fetus. rape victims have been dehumanized once society should not dehumanize them further by forcing them to gestate and give birth against their will. that is a decision that only the woman can make. it is after all her body that is pregnant and has to experience it.

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