The Rape Exception

During the first Republican debate candidates were asked if they would force a woman who went through a violent attack to keep the baby, or make an exception?  A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent, and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances. American Thinker interviewed experts who have dealt with rape victims. 

Many Republicans are in agreement with a majority of Americans who believe an exception should be made. Donald Trump has gone on record recently, “I absolutely am for the exceptions, and so was Ronald Reagan for the exceptions, by the way.” George W. Bush believed in a Constitutional Amendment outlawing abortions, but also insisted on exceptions to be made in the case of rape or incest. 

A psychologist who works with rape victims told American Thinker, “I am a Republican and have argued that those who say they will not make an exception because it takes a life need to understand the moral arguments. I believe in the death penalty and the Second Amendment. Make no mistake -- for me guns are a great equalizer for women. In these cases a loss of life can occur. Yet, victims of rape are not afforded those same parameters.”

A police detective who works in a sexual assault department emphasized that many times women who face a pregnancy from these circumstances don’t realize it. “Sometimes the stress can cause hormonal changes and they don’t think about the possibility.  A lot of them are juveniles and did not realize they were pregnant. Because of some changes in their body they go for a checkup and find they are pregnant. A lot of rape cases involve children from the ages of eleven to eighteen. Do you want to force these children to have the child of a horrible person? The victims been stripped of their choice once, why do that to them again?”

She has a good point, considering the UN report that says the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically killing, torturing, and raping children. Another report relates the story of a nine-year-old Yazidi girl, who had been raped by at least ten frontline militants from the Islamic State terror group in Iraq. She became pregnant, and an aid worker says she is so young that she could die if she delivers the baby.Would anyone argue that this girl should be forced to endure nine months of a pregnancy and bring back the horrid memories and the nature of the crime that took away power over her own life? Why force her to relive this torture for nine months?

An advocate and counselor at a rape crisis center has heard many people say, “Rape victims could have done something to prevent it. But they don’t understand that women want to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. The feeling is that the rapist might get more violent if they don’t cooperate. They realize they can’t fight it physically or mentally. Most people on the sidelines comment they would scream, run, or fight back. But the victim is thinking, ‘I don’t want to be beaten or strangled.’ They try to do something that will give the least amount of harm to themselves. I think if you have not gone through it personally or know someone who had gone through it you just cannot fully understand.”

Paul Der’Ohannesian prosecuted sexual assault cases for over twenty-one years. He wrote the book, Sexual Assault Trials, which covers all aspects of the topic . He wants Americans to understand that the rape victim did not give their consent, lost control over her body, and never had freedom of choice. “This should be an individual freedom’s choice and not the government’s choice. By doing this you are giving back the victim their self-control. I respect people's values and beliefs but would ask them to consider the victim's values, beliefs, and circumstances.”

Another prosecutor who dealt with sexual assault cases told of a case where a woman was raped and became pregnant. “During that same time period she and her husband were trying to have a baby. She had no intention of aborting the baby if it were from her husband, but did not want the baby if it was the rapist’s. She did not want the constant reminder of what happened to her. Next to homicide there is nothing worse you can do to a human being and the victim’s mental health has to be an important consideration. She would be constantly reminded for nine months of the violence committed against her and it would just increase her mental anguish, clearly the fear, trauma, and sense of violation lasts much more than a few moments. For that person adoption is not an option.”

Today with the advances in medical science there are a number of DNA and paternity tests available. This allows those raped, but who tried to conceive with their husbands, to see who is the father of the child. NIPP is a state of the art process where this test requires only a simple blood collection from the mother and her husband to determine if he is the father, and can be done any time after the eighth week of pregnancy.

There is also the Plan B medication, also known as “the morning after pill,” given to rape victims during the hospital exam. It prevents the egg from adhering to the uterus. The problem with this process is that it is not an option days after the rape and must be done almost immediately because it will not cause someone who is pregnant to abort.

Dr. Ann Burgess, an internationally recognized pioneer in the assessment and treatments of victims of trauma and abuse, commented, “People are not aware how the rapist tries to claim responsibility for the child. He insists on some say in the child’s life. I know about a dozen cases where this happened. The rapist continues the emotional trauma on the victim by forcing himself into the victim’s life.” 

American Thinker was told about a senior in college who was raped. She did not abort and when the child was seven years old the rapist suddenly served her with papers requesting custody of their daughter. At first she thought it was so ridiculous she laughed it off. Then, the truth sank in as she noted, ‘I was struck with terror, not only with the idea of letting my child be around him, but also having to spend the next eleven years of my life tied to him.’” 

All interviewed emphasized that the exception should be based on a woman’s choice. The victims should be the ones to determine if they want to continue the pregnancy or prevent it. Those women who become pregnant because of rape and do not believe in abortion should be respected by society, but so should those who choose to abort.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.