//Life News

An honest look at rape and incest exceptions

by Doug McGee and John SeagoWednesday, January 25, 2012

All innocent Life, including unborn babies resulting from rape and incest, deserve protection.  Their lives are no less precious despite the tragic circumstances under which they were conceived.

 

Texas Right to Life has never, including during the most recent Texas Legislative Session, drafted Pro-Life bills and policies to include exceptions for rape and incest.  However, in order to maximize the amount of Pro-Life legislation that is signed into law, Texas Right to Life has supported and lobbied for bills that included such exceptions to help make Texas law measurably more Pro-Life.

 

Unfortunately, in some political situations, allowing victims of rape and incest to be exempt from certain funding restrictions or laws is necessary for Pro-Life legislation to pass.  The only reason Texas Right to Life and many genuinely Pro-Life elected officials tolerate these exceptions is out of a practice of legislative incrementalism.  This strategy involves advocating and passing gradual changes that can be built upon as opposed to pushing for dramatic changes to the system that are certain to be defeated. 

 

Rape and incest exemptions have a long legal history.  The Hyde Amendment, a rider that prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions, was originally passed in 1976 without any exemptions.  Because it is a rider and not permanent law, the Hyde Amendment must be renewed every year.  Immediately after its passage in 1976, women’s rights advocates fought for exemptions to be added.  In order to ensure its renewal, the Hyde Amendment included exemptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother starting in 1977.  These exemptions have been included in the amendment every year since, with the phrase “health of the mother” being positively altered to “Life of the mother” over the years. 

 

These exceptions might have been originally created out of a genuine sense of compassion for women who have been the victims of violent crimes and abuse.

 

While Texas Right to Life seeks to help women in these situations receive proper protection, health care and support, it is our firm conviction that these women deserve better than abortion in these awful circumstances.

 

Woman who have been sexually assaulted or have been coerced into a sexual relationship with a relative do not need to be subject to more violence through abortion.  Abortion hurts women physically, psychologically, and relationally.  Even while some in our culture ignore the duty to protect the vulnerable unborn child, it cannot be denied that women victimized by sexual abuse deserve more just and compassionate options than abortion.  Usually, rape and incest exceptions allow these victims to be rushed through the abortion process without the same informed consent requirements afforded to other abortion clients.

 

Because the Hyde Amendment was the first successful piece of Pro-Life legislation passed after Roe v. Wade, bills that followed used it as a template for success.  These bills also included exemptions for the hard cases of rape, incest, and Life of the mother.  Rape, incest, and Life of the mother exceptions became not only an issue over funding, but ensuring that there was not an “undue burden” placed upon women in these hard cases.  Over the years, these exemptions became political tradition and habit.  Now some politicians and courts consider these exemptions necessary to any Pro-Life legislation.    

   

Texas Right to Life will not rest until there is an end to legal abortion in all cases.  We will also continue to operate and support programs and organizations that reach out to, protect, and provide care for victimized women.  However, in order to reach our goal, Pro-Life legislation must be passed, and then built upon. 

 

The Pro-Life movement is making momentous gains toward are ultimate goal of ending elective abortion.  The Sonogram Law, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, Fetal Pain Laws, and Parental Notification Laws are all legal examples of how the incremental approach is working.  In each case, more abortions are being prevented, more women are being protected, and countless lives saved.  Sadly, most of these laws would not have passed through the political process without rape and incest exemptions. 

 

One day we will live in a society where all unborn children and pregnant women are offered legal protection from abortion, but until that day arrives, it is our mission to extend legal protection to as many innocent lives as politically possible.       
 



Filed Under: legislation, culture