Daily Answers

Should abortions be permitted in the case of rape or incest?

When the subject of abortion comes up, rape and incest are often used as an emotional appeal designed to deflect serious consideration of the pro-life position: “How can anyone deny a hurting woman safe medical care and freedom from the terror of rape or incest by forcing her to maintain a pregnancy resulting from the cruel and criminal invasion of her body?” The emotion of the argument often precludes serious examination of its merits.

First, it is important to note that the incidence of pregnancy as a result of rape is rare, with studies estimating that approximately 1 percent to 4.7 percent of rapes result in pregnancy. Thus lobbying for abortion on the basis of rape and incest is like lobbying for the removal of red lights because you might have to run one in order to rescue someone who is about to commit suicide. Even if we had legislation restricting abortion for all reasons other than rape or incest, we would save the vast majority of the 1.8 million preborn babies who die annually in the United States through abortion.

Furthermore, one does not obviate the real pain of rape or incest by compounding it with the murder of an innocent preborn child. Two wrongs do not make a right. The very thing that makes rape evil also makes abortion evil. In both cases, an innocent human being is brutally dehumanized.

In both cases, an innocent human being is brutally dehumanized. Finally, the real question is whether abortion is the murder of an innocent human being. If so, abortion should be avoided at all costs. In an age of scientific enlightenment we now know that the embryo even at its earliest stages fulfills the criteria needed to establish the existence of biological life (including metabolism, development, the ability to react to stimuli, and cell reproduction); that a zygote is a living human being as demonstrated by its distinct genetic code; and that human personhood does not depend on size, location, or level of dependence. Thus, abortion should be avoided even in cases of rape and incest.

For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, “Annihilating Abortion Arguments,” available through the Christian Research Institute (CRI) at www.equip.org.


“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-the LORD detests them both.”

Proverbs 17:15

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