Trust me. I had very much hoped to avoid this train-wreck scenario surrounding the comments of Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin from Missouri.
But there’s something about this whole event, and especially its aftermath, that has troubled me enough to comment: how Akin’s stance on abortion in cases of rape or incest has been all mixed together with his comments about rape itself. That needs to be addressed and clarified, especially in light of the embarrassment otherwise pro-life candidates have shown about their own views on abortion in cases of rape or incest.
Look, I quickly join my voice with the legions of others that despite our intentions, we should never use this phrase “legitimate rape” again. No rape is legitimate; all rape is devastating, evil and dehumanizing. I also join with others in condemning the profoundly unscientific idea that a woman’s body prevents pregnancy in cases of rape.
Mr. Akin was apparently drawing from an old pro-life argument that the trauma of rape somehow makes female victims far less likely to conceive a child. But research by the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that the incidence of rape-related pregnancies is about 5 percent. That may sound like a low percentage, but that translates to more than 32,000 rape-related pregnancies every year. That doesn’t sound rare to me, especially when what hangs in the balance are at least 64,000 moms and babies who bear the image and likeness of God.
Clearly the first lesson to be learned is that we need to know our facts. This is true whether we’re talking about abortion or something like evolution. We’re too quick to jump to an argument or quote some statistics simply because it seems to work for our cause at that time. And that creates a huge problem when those stats or facts change with new data. Plus, this points directly to the second lesson we should learn from this whole fiasco.
Let me explain. Akin was being asked about abortion in cases of rape and incest. His position, which he went on to clarify later, is that abortion should be illegal in cases of rape or incest because it creates a second victim from the initial evil act. But he jumped out with a pragmatic argument for what is essentially a moral dilemma.
Even if his argument about rape pregnancies being rare was true, though clearly it wasn’t, the frequency of rape-related pregnancies has nothing to do with whether aborting a baby in cases of rape is right or wrong. The fundamental moral question, as my friends at Pro-Life Training Institute often point out, is “What is the unborn?”
If the unborn is a distinct, whole, living human being, then abortion is always taking of innocent life. Abortion in cases of rape and incest is creating a second victim of what is already an evil, terrible, dehumanizing crime.
We must continue to appeal to people on the basis of moral truth, good and evil, even in our increasingly postmodern society. Truth is not based on statistics, opinion polls, or frequency. Truth, even hard truth like this one, reflects the way that the God of the Bible designed the world we live in.
I am thrilled to host Megan Almon and Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute on BreakPoint this Week to talk about this very difficult issue. How can we love victims of rape enough to not only care for them, but to also help them protect the unborn? Scott’s book The Case for Life is the most practical resource available for being consistently pro-life in our day. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary to find out more about it and to listen to this important interview.
As the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, John Stonestreet provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: August 31, 2012