On Exceptions for Rape and Incest

There’s been a lot of conservatives in my community OUTRAGED that there was no “rape/incest exception” in the law that was signed last night. Even nationally, some vocal conservatives have said it was TOO FAR! And putting aside the fact that we all know the reason it wasn’t there is that Alabama is trying to define life at starting at fertilization and therefore abortion = murder, I also always want to remind people that while those exceptions may make Pro-Lifers sleep better at night? They are 100% not realistically enforceable.

First of all, if a woman says she was raped and therefore should be allowed an abortion, how do you define “rape”? I mean, I know how I define it, but I wouldn’t put restrictions on abortion so I don’t have to define it. If you want to put restrictions on abortion rights by allowing it in SOME cases but not ALL, then you need to decide how you would define rape. If a 16-year girl gets drunk at a part and definitely is not able to give consent but also the guy who raped her was her boyfriend, is that rape? Can she have an abortion?

Does the rape have to be convicted to be “proven” it happened? Do you realize how long that takes? And how most women don’t take their rapists to court because of how awful that always turns out. Does the victim have to wait on the abortion until AFTER the trial? And please know this: THE VICTIM ALWAYS GET HER NAME SMEARED IN THOSE CASES. So not only does she have to wait well into the pregnancy to receive the abortion but she has to deal with her character being smeared by the defense. And then…what if he’s found innocent like happens so many times. She has to keep the baby she 100% knows was the product of a rape just because a jury of her “peers” sided with the defense’s version of events.

And what if a girl is married and maybe even trying to have a baby and so therefore off birth control, but gets raped on a business trip. She’s embarrassed and mortified and she doesn’t want to report it because she had been drinking and she knew her attacker and maybe he misunderstood her signals? Was she flirting too much? What if then she finds out she’s pregnant 3 weeks later and wants to get an abortion just because she fears the baby might be the rapist’s. Do we have to genetically test the baby first to make sure it’s the rapist’s baby?

What if a young teen is sexually active but also being raped by her father at home regularly. She gets pregnant and obviously doesn’t want the baby no matter who the father is, but you’ll allow her to abort it if it’s her Dad’s baby? And I guess again…after it’s proven by genetic testing? But if it’s her boyfriend’s then she has to just become a 16-year old Mom! Sorry the wrong sperm fertilized the egg!

What if a woman is in an abusive relationship with a man who she is financially dependent on? He rapes her regularly but she doens’t report it because she can’t live without his income and she’s worried he’ll beat her more and she already has a few children by him. You’re going to make her keep the baby because she’s too terrified to actually accuse him of rape.

These exceptions make a lot of Pro-Lifers feel better about voting for Pro-Life candidates. They can put their heads on a pillow at night and say to themselves, “But no rape victim or victim of incest will have to carry the babies of their assaults!” But that is 100% not the case. The only way these restrictions are partly enforceable is for women who go to the hospital after a rape and get a D&C as part of the rape kit or are given Plan B as a precaution.

But the vast majority of rapes do not end with women at the hospital so those “rape exceptions” become wildly more difficult to regulate outside of the ER. This is why – when legislators are ACTUALLY trying to put exceptions on abortion bills – they do it by timeline (8 weeks, like in Missouri) because that’s an enforceable restriction. Or they make the defining line the “heartbeat” because that’s enforceable. Rape/Incest qualifications are not enforceable once you leave that 24 hour window after the event. Basically…they are not enforceable once you KNOW you are pregnant.

So don’t make yourself feel better about being Pro-Life by saying, “There should ALWAYS be exceptions for rape and incest,” because it’s 100% unenforceable and it just makes you sound better to your Pro-Choice friends. This is why abortion laws are best left open ended so the women and their doctors to decide can decide what is best without requiring external evaluations of possible traumas.

3 Comments

  • Cherie

    This is 100% my thinking on why I am pro-choice. When you go down the rabbit hole of *who* gets to decide you always end up at “not the woman.” Same with medical exceptions. Who gets to decide when the health of the mother is really in danger? The doctor? Do those decisions need to be overseen by someone or are we just taking the doctor’s word? If it’s overseen, by whom? A governmental board? What if there definition of “in danger” varies from the doctor?

    Yeah, these exceptions are just shields. Anything that doesn’t let the final decision rest with the woman is abridging her rights to life, liberty, and happiness.

    Trust women. Just trust them.

  • Elaine C. B.

    I don’t have anything constructive to add to this. Just wanted to pop in and say thank you. You always articulate what is rambling around in my brain far better than I could.

  • Meg

    Rape/incest exceptions mean we (as a society) acknowledge that there are some situations when it’s just too horrible to have the baby, but we want to make rules to decide just how horrible things have to be to deserve an abortion. I’m pro-choice because I think the pregnant person is the best judge of whether it would be horrible to have the baby.