Author’s Note: The following column is based on a real life conversation.
Teenager: Dr. Adams, may I have a few minutes to speak with you?
Me: Sure. What is your name? (Gives name).
Teen: I enjoyed listening to your talk on abortion just a few minutes ago. Your points were solid. But I have just one problem. It’s with the rape exception. Can you honestly tell me that you could look a rape victim in the eye and tell her that she could not have an abortion – that she must take the rapist’s baby to term?
Me: (pulls out phone). Yes. Give me the number of any pregnant rape victim you know and I will call her right now and talk to her. I can’t look her in the eye but I will talk to her.
Teen: (Laughing nervously). I don’t know any pregnant rape victims.
Me: Well, before I put my phone up, can I ask a favor of you?
Me: I have a friend who was conceived in rape. Do you mind if I call her and give you the phone so you could explain why it would be permissible for her be killed just because she was conceived in rape? Her mother is still alive, by the way. I’m sure that her continued existence reminds her mother of the rape. My friend’s name is Laura.
Teen: No, I won’t do that. She shouldn’t be killed, now. That isn’t my position.
Me: Oh, I see. You think that there is some difference between the adult she is now and the embryo she once was that would have justified killing her at that earlier stage of development.
Teen: I see what you are doing. This is the SLED thing, isn’t it?
Me: Yes it is. Size, level of development, environment (whether she is inside or outside of the womb), and degree of dependency. These are the four differences people generally rely upon when they say you can kill the unborn but not the born. Which one is it?
Teen: Well, none of them, I guess. I see your point.
Me: Good. Now, let’s talk about who benefits when the child conceived in rape is aborted.
Me: Would I, or any of the close friends of Laura, have benefited from her death at the hands of the hands of the abortion doctor? I mean, would it not have been a tragedy had her friends never known her?
Teen: Well, yes, I suppose it would have been a tragedy.
Me: Well, how about Laura? Would she have benefited from the abortion?
Teen: No, of course not.
Me: Ok, then who benefits?
Teen: Well, the rape victim benefits. Obviously.
Me: But is it really obvious?
Teen: I think it is.
Me: You know, if a woman becomes pregnant through consensual sex and has a crisis pregnancy it is a toss up as to whether she will have the abortion. But if she’s raped and becomes pregnant then the chances she’ll abort are much lower.
Teen: How much lower?
Me: The odds are about three to one that she won’t abort. It may seem counterintuitive but it really isn’t difficult to understand upon further consideration. She’s just been the victim of a violent crime. She identifies with the evil of violence and is reluctant to inflict it on another human being. So she usually decides to suffer evil rather than inflict it.
Teen: I’ll have to think about that one.
Me: Good. It will give me time to ask you another question.
Me: You believe that the woman impregnated by a rapist will suffer great stress bringing the baby to term. You obviously believe that the abortion will reduce that stress. But your argument turns on the assertion that the stress saved by the abortion will actually outweigh any guilt she might experience over the memory of the abortion for the duration of her life. Is that a fair characterization of your reasoning?