Is Permitting Abortion Exceptions the ‘Best Way to Be Pro-Life’?

Is Permitting Abortion Exceptions the ‘Best Way to Be Pro-Life’?

Is Permitting Abortion Exceptions the ‘Best Way to Be Pro-Life’?

Final week the state of Alabama enacted one of many strictest abortion restrictions within the nation. The legislation makes the efficiency of an abortion a felony punishable by life imprisonment of no more than 99 years or lower than 10 years.

The legislation permits an exemption if the abortion is deemed obligatory with a view to stop a severe well being threat to the unborn baby’s mom, however it permits for no exception in instances of rape or incest. In what seems to have been a response to the legislation, President Trump tweeted over the weekend,

As most individuals know, and for many who wish to know, I’m strongly Professional-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and defending the Lifetime of the mom – the identical place taken by Ronald Reagan. . . . We should stick collectively and Win . . . for Life in 2020. If we’re silly and don’t stay UNITED as one, all of our onerous fought positive aspects for Life can, and can, quickly disappear!

When requested what prompted the president, a senior White Home official advised CBS Information, “It’s private conversation, but also I think it’s a personal thing that this is the best way to be pro-life . . . which is that you have these exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother.”

Many People appear to agree with President Trump that “best way to be pro-life” is to permit these three exceptions. Based on a latest Gallup ballot, greater than half of pro-lifers (57 p.c) suppose abortion is allowable if the being pregnant is the results of rape or incest, and likewise two-thirds (71 p.c) suppose abortion ought to be authorized if a lady’s life can be endangered.

Are they proper? Ought to a constant pro-lifer contemplate one or all of those exceptions to be a reliable motive to permit the dying of an unborn baby? Let’s study the justification for every exemption and weigh them towards the requirements usually accepted as being a in line with a sturdy protection of unborn life.

(NB: For the sake of brevity I’ve needed to elide over the extra emotion-based arguments which are typically used to justify these exemptions. Nonetheless, Christians shouldn’t ignore such considerations. Whereas the problem may be debated in an emotionally impartial method, we should always always remember that these exemptions are thought of obligatory as a result of they end result from tough or horrific conditions and may have a profound impact on the lives of girls.)

Evaluating the Exemptions


The truth that incest stays on the checklist of attainable exemptions to abortion is an indication that many individuals haven’t given the problem adequate consideration.

The authorized definition of incest is sexual contact between shut blood family members, together with brothers and sisters, dad and mom and kids, grandparents and grandchildren, or aunts or uncles with nephews or nieces. In 18 states first cousins are additionally included within the definition of incest.

Incest is a criminal offense in all states, and is against the law in 48 states even when consensual by each events. But when most individuals consider incest they’re possible assuming that the sexual contact was nonconsensual, corresponding to in instances the place a father impregnates his minor baby. However a being pregnant that outcomes from nonconsensual intercourse is rape—even when the rapist is a blood relative. If what we oppose a couple of being pregnant ensuing from incest is the rape, then there is no such thing as a must create a redundant class. We might cut back “rape or incest” to the one class of “rape.”

What about when the sexual contact was consensual? Even when we imagine (as I do) that incest between consenting adults ought to stay unlawful, there is no such thing as a motive to suppose it justifies permitting an abortion. If abortion is prohibited on ethical grounds, why would there be an exception for a lady who was impregnated by consensual intercourse along with her cousin?

The reasoning towards incest is normally grounded within the potential harm it could actually must household life or the chance of passing on genetic ailments. Neither motive, although, is ethical grounds on which a constant pro-lifer would assist an abortion. We don’t assist the killing of an unborn baby as a result of the kid would possibly disrupt a household. We additionally don’t assist aborting kids after they have already been identified with a genetic illness, corresponding to Down syndrome, so why would we assist an abortion to stop potential genetic circumstances?


Together with an exemption for rape is comprehensible, and it might even be obligatory legally. However from a constant pro-life perspective it might not be ethical. As Trevin Wax says, “Permitting abortion within the case of rape shouldn’t be the best way to precise sympathy towards a sufferer of this crime. Abortion solely destroys the lifetime of one other sufferer.”

The thinker Steven Wagner offers a thought experiment to indicate why rape, whereas a horrific crime, shouldn’t be a reliable justification for an abortion. Think about {that a} lady named Mary wakes up in an odd cabin and has no thought how she acquired there. She goes to the window and sees snow piled so excessive that she will’t go away. On the desk by the window, she finds a observe that claims, “You will be here for six weeks. You are safe, and your child is, too. There is plenty of food and water.”

Since she simply gave beginning every week in the past, she instinctively begins tearing by way of every room of the cabin searching for her toddler son. She finds an toddler in a second room, however it’s not her toddler. It’s a woman who seems to be about one week outdated, similar to her son. She then goes to the kitchen space of the cabin and finds an enormous retailer of meals and a prepared supply of water. The infant begins to cry, and he or she rightly assesses that the infant is hungry. Mary sees a three-month provide of formulation on the counter within the kitchen space.

Now think about that the police present up on the cabin six weeks later. The police say, “We’re so glad you’re okay. Is there anyone else in the cabin?” Mary says, “There was.” The police search the cabin and discover the toddler formulation unopened on the counter. They discover the toddler lifeless on a mattress. The coroner confirms that the toddler died from hunger. Did Mary do something unsuitable?

Our ethical instinct tells us that Mary was unsuitable for not feeding the infant. She didn’t ask to place in that scenario, however we nonetheless suppose the duty to feed the kid exists even when her solely possibility is to make use of her personal physique to breastfeed that baby. And even when the observe Mary discovered had a fourth line saying, “If the child in the cabin dies, you will be rescued immediately,” we nonetheless wouldn’t suppose she was justified in killing the infant both actively or passively. Dependency shouldn’t be a justification for killing an harmless human being.

The scenario for Mary is just like the plight of a rape sufferer. As Wagner explains:

Mary didn’t do something to place herself within the scenario wherein she now finds herself, with a toddler completely depending on her physique for survival. Equally, the girl pregnant from rape didn’t do something to place herself within the scenario, however she now has a toddler completely depending on her physique for survival. Each Mary and the girl pregnant from rape are de facto guardians, and as such, they each have the duty (ethical and authorized) to feed and shelter the kids of their care, no matter the truth that they didn’t consent to be within the scenario they’re in.

Defending the Lifetime of the Mom

Our remaining class of exemption is the strongest, and prone to be the one morally constant justification for permitting an abortion: to save lots of the lifetime of the mom. However even this class is extra morally advanced than most individuals understand.

The usual most frequently utilized to this class of exemption is the precept of double impact. Because the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains, “According to the principle of double effect, sometimes it is permissible to cause a harm as a side effect (or ‘double effect’) of bringing about a good result even though it would not be permissible to cause such a harm as a means to bringing about the same good end.” This precept requires an motion to fulfill 4 standards:

1. The act itself have to be good.

2. The one factor that one can intend is the nice act, not the foreseen however unintended dangerous impact.

3. The great impact can not come up from the dangerous impact; in any other case, one would do evil to realize good.

4. The unintended however foreseen dangerous impact can’t be disproportionate to the nice being carried out.

The Nationwide Catholic Bioethics Middle explains that the basic case of this precept is a pregnant lady who has superior uterine most cancers. The elimination of the cancerous uterus will end result within the dying of the infant, however it might be permissible underneath the precept of double impact.

One can see how the circumstances can be happy on this case: 1) The act itself is sweet; it’s the elimination of a diseased organ. 2) All that one intends is the elimination of the diseased organ. One doesn’t need the dying of the infant, both as a method or an finish. Nonetheless, one sees that the unborn baby will die on account of the elimination of the diseased organ. 3) The great motion, the therapeutic of the girl, arises from the elimination of the diseased uterus, not from the regrettable dying of the infant which is foreseen and unintended. 4) The unintended and oblique dying of the kid shouldn’t be disproportionate to the nice which is completed, which is saving the mom’s life.

This precept, nonetheless, doesn’t justify abortion for any and all severe medical threats. A girl with hypertension would possibly change into much less prone to die of the situation if she had been to have an abortion. But that in itself wouldn’t present an ethical justification to kill an unborn baby.

Setting apart whether or not the class is ethical, the authorized exception could also be allowable on the bottom that it’s unlikely ever to be obligatory. Regardless of the claims made by pro-abortion teams, there’s a dearth of proof that an abortion is each medically obligatory to save lots of the lifetime of a mom. From 2011 to 2014, the Facilities for Illness Management recorded 2,726 deaths that had been discovered to be pregnancy-related attributable to 11 circumstances. Whereas a few of the circumstances may very well be attributable to abortion and thus led to a lady’s dying, there is no such thing as a proof that having an abortion would have prevented any of the deaths.

Is Permitting Abortion Exceptions the ‘Best Way to Be Pro-Life’?

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