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Abortion Should be Legal in Cases of Rape and Incest

A victim of sex crimes should not be forced to have the perpetrator's child.

Context

In February 2019, protestors took to the streets in Argentina. An 11-year-old girl became pregnant after her grandmother's 65-year-old partner sexually abused her. Although abortion is legal in Argentina in cases of rape, the girl was not permitted to abort the child when she visited a hospital and told them to "remove what the old man put inside me." Local doctors refused on the grounds of "personal beliefs," and some ambiguity over who was technically the child's legal guardian. [1]

The Argument

The case outlined above thrust abortion laws under the spotlight. How can a woman, or worse a child, be forced to carry a rapist's baby because of a doctor's "personal belief"? It amounts to torture. In the case of the Argentine child, the 11-year-old attempted suicide on multiple occasions. Given that carrying the child of your attacker amounts to physical and psychological torture, abortion must be legal in cases where rape occurred, even if it is not accessible under other circumstances.

Counter arguments

Counter From a Pro-Life Perspective Why should a child have any less right to life because of how they were conceived? Rape is a crime, and it must be adequately punished, but the victim has no right to punish her unborn child as well. Just because she was harmed does not give her the right to harm another. As a result, even in cases of rape, abortion should not be permitted. [2] Some Pro-Life campaigners have also asserted rape does not result in pregnancy. Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate in the Missouri Senate race in 2012, famously argued that "if it's legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down". Given that the biological mechanisms make pregnancy as a result of rape so rare, there should not be exceptions. All abortion is murder. No exception. [3] Counter From a Pro-Choice Perspective Only allowing abortions in the case of rape and incest poses significant difficulties when its implementation is considered. Firstly, it means that women can only get an abortion if they are successfully able to prove they were raped. This means they would have to report it, which does not always occur due to reasons such as victim shaming, social pressure and in an effort to avoid further psychological trauma. Secondly, the time it would take to secure an abortion conviction could cause unnecessary delays. By the time the conviction is reached, the foetus could be in the final trimester and the emotional damage to the mother already incurred. Besides this, aborting the foetus this late in the pregnancy would be traumatic for the mother and painful for the foetus. Allowing exceptions in cases of rape and incest is a well-intentioned gesture, but the implementation of the law would cause further suffering to rape victims. To ensure minimal suffering is incurred on both the mother and foetus, the bar to securing an abortion must be set much lower.[4]

Premises

[P1] Forcing a woman to carry their attacker's child amounts to physical and psychological torture. [P2] Abortion should, therefore, be legal under these circumstances.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1 Pro-Life] Rape rarely, if ever, leads to pregnancy. [Rejecting P2 Pro-Choice] This is too narrow in its scope to be effectively implemented.

References

  1. https://globalnews.ca/news/5009075/abortion-argentina-11-year-old-gives-birth/
  2. https://savethestorks.com/2017/04/abortion-allowed-rape-incest/
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/us/politics/rep-todd-akin-legitimate-rape-statement-and-reaction.html
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/10/should-victims-be-able-to-have-abortions-republicans-dont-think-so

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 21:54 UTC