Pro-Lifers Must Protect All Children—Including Those Conceived in Rape | Opinion

Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently discussed the "Unborn Child Protection Act," an abortion ban he signed in 2021 that has no exception for aborting children conceived in rape. Hutchinson told CNN that although he supports the idea of reducing abortions, he wishes the bill he signed did not protect from abortion unborn children conceived in rape. "I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view," he said at the time. But Hutchinson simultaneously said he signed the bill nonetheless because of his "sincere and long-held pro-life convictions."

Those convictions were seconded by voters in Hutchinson's state. It probably didn't hurt that Students for Life Action (SFLA) worked to send more than 4,700 emails into the capitol and governor's mansion, called more than 42,000 pro-lifers in Arkansas and sent 130,000 personalized text messages to pro-lifers in certain state senate districts.

With Roe v. Wade likely to soon be gone or at least profoundly changed, some pro-life convictions should be reassessed. Chief among them is the rarely challenged abandonment of an innocent child to abortion violence solely because of who his or her father is, or what that man did on the night of that unborn child's conception.

Let's be clear, in other words, about what it means to make an "exception" in an otherwise-pro-life law in our hopefully-impending post-Roe America.

It means determining another person's value based on something other than his or her status as an innocent member of the human family. It means that based solely on the actions of his or her father, a child can be subjected to life-ending violence. This violence will include being starved to death, dismembered or forced to undergo a heart attack by lethal injection.

The mainstream media clutches its pearls when we say we oppose aborting an innocent, defenseless child for any reason. The real scandal is that they don't do so.

It is the pro-abortion movement—not ours—that says a person's value is subjectively determined by factors other than his or her status as an innocent human being. With constantly moving goalposts, the abortion lobby says that a child must be a certain age, not be disabled, be a certain sex, not be conceived in rape and so forth, simply to merit the same legal protections that every innocent person enjoys after birth in this country.

There are three distinct human beings involved in a conception by rape. First, there is the mother, who has been brutally victimized by the illegal and repugnant act of another. Then there is the father, a criminal who should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. And then there is the unborn child, an innocent third party who, like his or her mother, did not consent to the act that brought him or her into existence.

A pro-life demonstrator stands in front of
A pro-life demonstrator stands in front of an un-scalable fence that stands around the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 5, 2022. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Given the life-and-death stakes of aborting children conceived in rape, it's astounding how seldom people whose life stories began in that way are provided a platform. Ryan Bomberger, for instance, is a public speaker and adoption advocate who shares his story with all who ask. Yet, it's rare that mainstream media engage him on the issue. Curious, that.

In a just society, a woman who has survived an act of rape would not be pressured to undergo a second act of violence: an abortion. Instead, she would be aided in pursuing and securing justice against her aggressor, and supported in caring for the new child who has come into existence as a result of the rapist's odious crime.

Viewing the child conceived in rape as somehow less than fully human is reminiscent of some regressive views from the past, such as when children were discriminated against and called "bastards" or "illegitimate" if their parents were not married when they were conceived. The irony is that it is those who label themselves "progressive" who often want to drag society backward to those views.

There is a battle between those who want to fatally discriminate against unborn children conceived in rape, and those who seek to legally protect them. For years, SFLA has led the effort to expand protections to all unborn children, without exception, by explaining to pro-life lawmakers why they need not make discriminatory carveouts in their legislation. Our work has even been noticed by the mainstream media.

Although Governor Hutchinson and CNN talking heads may not have the moral clarity to see the vile nature of their own views, the truth is that it is reprehensible to tell a rape survivor and mother that committing violence against her own innocent child is a palliative "solution" to her trauma. The pro-life movement must continue blocking efforts to fatally discriminate against rape survivors and their precious children until the day that moral clarity is accorded the status of law.

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America and Students for Life Action, with close to 1,300 groups on middle and high school, college and university, medical and law school campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, "Explicitly Pro-Life."

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.