Previously, I laid out what I call a “Pro-Whole-Life” approach to the question of abortion. The first few principles of a Pro-Whole-Life approach are clear. The fetus is a human life. Unwanted or unsustainable pregnancies open up a nasty can of problems, including abortion. And vigorous prevention, through education and contraception, is the place to start.
Because the Pro-Whole-Life is a middle ground and a way forward, extremists on both sides of the issue will hate it. So will the merchants of division, who will see it as a threat to one of their best cash cows, and to one of the best distractions by which they keep their control over us. I want to address those of you who are tired of watching our country self-destruct over this issue, and are willing to try thinking in a new way.
Let’s address the thorny issue about how best to deal with failures of prevention. What do we do in those cases where our best efforts to prevent problem pregnancies fail, and a woman ends up pregnant with a child she either does not want or cannot support?
The answers to this question are complex, because from a Pro-Whole-Life standpoint, it depends on a number of factors. Before addressing the many nuances of this matter, however, let me single out one case to begin with. Alabama passed a law recently, outlawing abortions in that state, even in cases of rape and incest.
No reasonable person would disagree that a woman has a complete and inviolable right to decide who she has sex with, as well as when, where and how. She has, to put it succinctly, a right of sexual self-defense. In addition to her right to defend her own life, she has a right to defend her womb.
When her right of sexual self-defense is violated by coercion or an act of rape, she is not responsible for any child that may result from that crime. Period. Although the child itself is still an innocent human being, its right to life is vastly outweighed by the mother’s right to sexual self-defense.
Forcing a woman who has been raped to bear the rapist’s child to term constitutes nothing but a second rape. In the first rape, a criminal takes control of the woman’s body by coercion, violates her right of sexual self-defense, crushes her human dignity, and subjects her to multiple risks on her life itself. The second rape differs only in the question of who is carrying out the crime. In the second rape, it is the government that takes control of the woman’s body by coercion, violates her right of sexual self-defense, crushes her human dignity, and subjects her to multiple risks on her life itself. But while the first rape typically lasts a few minutes or a few hours (which undoubtedly seem much longer to the victim), the second rape lasts for 9 long months. And when it is finally over and the child is born, the woman who was the victim of both rapes will have a much more difficult time getting closure and moving on with her life, because she knows that somewhere, the living embodiment of that vicious crime against her is walking around living, and could come back into her life at any time.
It should not be necessary to remind the reader that the government’s role is to protect and promote the lives and welfare of its citizens. It should not be necessary to say that it is not the government’s role to join in and exacerbate crimes committed against its citizens. This provision in the Alabama law is deeply cruel, unjust, and immoral.
Beyond that, it is probably unconstitutional. The Eight Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Even the most despicable of convicted criminals are protected from cruel and unusual punishments under our system of law. How much more so should an innocent crime victim be protected?
The Alabama law is not merely an extreme aberration. It conforms precisely with the so-called “Pro-Life” position that abortion is not acceptable, even in the case of rape. The fact that such a law is passed in the name of the God of love and justice, and in the name of Jesus Christ the merciful, shows how completely the United States has lost its moral compass, and thus foreshadows the imminent collapse of this once-great nation, if we don’t mend our ways real soon.
Phil Jones is a local minister who is willing to talk about issues and look at all perspectives.