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January 22nd, 2014
09:07 PM ET

Abortion exception for rape?

Crossfire host Newt Gingrich and guest host Sally Kohn debate abortion rights, including if the woman has been raped, with Lila Rose and Ilyse Hogue.

Any room for compromise on abortion?
Lila Rose and Ilyse Hogue debate the use of contraceptives as an option to abortion.

NARAL President: abortion restrictions up to the states
NARAL's Ilyse Hogue says abortion restrictions are up to the states but should be imposed by doctors working on each case.

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Filed under: Abortion • Debates • Ilyse Hogue • Lila Rose • Newt Gingrich • Sally Kohn • The Final Question
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  1. Yessid Ceballos

    Yessid Ceballos
    Philosophy of Death and Dying
    The Dilemma of Abortion: Morality Informs Pragmatism
    The purpose of this paper is to dismiss the objection against anti-abortion advocates that abortion is justified because of the notion that you are saving the fetus from a bad life, the mother would not have the financial resources, or any other aspect of life that would seem terrible to bare. I will first discuss the moral aspect of abortion and show that with the presuppositions we have in common about moral responsibility there is no justification for abortion. Second I will address the pragmatic objection. Third I will address briefly some concerns by leading philosophers on the topic. Finally I will explain how our nation would be more virtuous if abortion was outlawed.
    Abortion is not a morally complex issue once the nature of the fetus or the fertilized egg is known. I will introduce what I believe to be the best argument against abortion in terms of morality by Dr. Peter Kreeft, Roman Catholic apologist and Boston College Professor. There are four possibilities when it comes to abortion and I will examine what each of these scenarios say about abortion using analogous arguments. The first possibility is to assume that it is in fact a human being with personhood and that is known with utmost certainty, then an abortion would be premeditated murder because all human persons have the right to life and when life is taken away from those innocent of all crimes, it is murder. You might be thinking at this point the argument by Judith Thompson which we will get to later. The second possibility is that the fetus or fertilized egg is in fact a human person and you don’t know that or you’re skeptical about it. For this possibility, an analogy outlining the issue would go like this: I go on a hunting trip with my friend and while we are hunting, I see a bush move. Now it could be my friend or an animal, I don’t know, but I shoot anyway. I would certainly get tried for manslaughter for not going to check first before shooting and as a consequence I killed a human person. The third possibility would be it is not a human person and you know that. The issue of personhood and personal identity is currently a large area of contention and no one has been able to definitively prove what it means to be you or when you become you. This would be the best scenario of them all if we actually could know because it would mean that the 55 million abortions that have taken place since 1973 are not murder, but as I’ve explained we cannot know this. The fourth possibility is that the fetus is not a human person and you don’t know that. In this scenario it would be analogous to someone who is about to detonate a building, and someone goes up to the man who will do it and says, “We evacuated the whole building but we forgot one room, there might be someone in there.” The man who will detonate the building says, “Don’t worry about it.” And he blows up the building. Now he got lucky and there ended up not being anyone in that room but it is definitely morally reprehensible that he did not check and just blew it up anyway. This would be a form of criminal negligence. We end up with three possibilities of doing something criminal and one possibility that can’t be proven at all that would end up being good. The odds are definitely against abortion and the pro-abortion side as far as morality goes.
    I want to address some “difficult” issues when it comes to the morality of abortion that is rape and children who are warned to have disabilities when they are born. The very action of rape is utterly immoral and should be punished. This is a situation in which the woman is free from all fault and is a complete victim of a crime. This woman should seek psychological treatment so that she can tackle the trauma and overcome it. With that being said I still believe that abortion should be made illegal even in these cases. The reason being one child is not less valuable or has any less rights than another because she/he was the outcome of rape. If you have the abortion you have the very high possibility of killing your own child. The realization of this could very possibly make the trauma worse because not only were you a victim of a terrible crime but also the mother has now committed a crime herself. The fertilized egg is a human being and this is not disputed by science. It does not have monkey DNA, or elephant DNA it has human DNA. It comes to the question: do all human beings have the right to life or do only some humans beings have the right to life? I would like to say that all have the right to life. Once it is realized what the nature of the fetus is and it is seen that it is a human that is your own offspring, then it is seen how the taking of human life shouldn’t be left up to the choice of anyone. Some try to justify this by saying the kid will have a bad life and wont be wanted and so in having the abortion you are preventing this pain for the child. This type of reasoning does not obtain because of the concept of potentiality and actuality. Potentiality has no effect on reality while actuality does. There are many people actually having horrible lives right now. There are actually many people with handicaps right now. Is the solution to kill them all? I think most people would say no. Hitler said yes and killed them using the phrase, “Lebensunwertes Leben” which means “life unworthy of life”. If the potential to have a horrible life or disability is enough of a reason to take a human life, then why shouldn’t the actual fact of having a terrible life or having a disability be a good enough reason to kill the man with a horrible life or disability. Life is valuable no matter what type of life we live. One real life example to put this into perspective, imagine you are driving on an extremely elevated bridge and you see a man about to jump off in an attempt to commit suicide. You stop your car and try to help the man and the man tells you his story, which is the worst life you could ever imagine. Do you respond to him by saying, “Ok yeah you’re justified in killing yourself go ahead.” I’d like to believe that the majority would tell him there was hope and try to help him.
    The pragmatic objection to the pro-life side grants most of the time that it is a human person and that abortion is taking the life of a human. They reason that even if abortion was illegal women would still have abortions but the only difference would be that it would be unsafe and dangerous for them. Also some women are left by the men and don’t have the financial resources necessary to raise the child so the abortion is sometimes needed and justified. Another reason is women who are in college or high school don’t have time for a baby right now. All of these conclude with saying that abortion is a necessary evil and I will demonstrate the error in this belief by using reductio ad absurdum.
    To say that abortion would happen even if it was made illegal is to be completely ignorant of how the law works. The legal system’s purpose is the protection of rights and to impose consequences on those who break the law. All laws are broken if not the vast majority of them. Does this mean we should eliminate the law? In some cases maybe when it has to do with something the individual does to him such as drugs. This kind of example though comes nowhere close to human life. Abortions would happen even if they were illegal but murders, rapes and robbery occur and these are crimes. Should we then eliminate the laws against murder, rape, and robbery because people do it anyway? Of course not! Abortion is the taking of human life and this is undeniable according to Biology. If you equivocate abortion and murder, which I believe should be done, given the evidence that the fertilized egg has human DNA, then it should be criminalized and given the appropriate penalty. This would drastically lower the number of abortions, as does any law against something.
    The pro-abortion have tried to popularize the belief that a fetus is just a mass of cells, and that it is not a person who has rights. This type of mentality is one of the biggest reasons why men will just leave after they impregnate women. Why should the man put such value on his action when women themselves are saying that it is just a clump of cells and that the baby in her womb is not a person who has rights. Instead of promoting this type of ideology we should be promoting that it is a human being with rights and therefore the man’s child right from conception. We should try to increase the moral expectations of society and especially men and instead of giving all this money to Planned Parenthood, give it to real men who will teach boys to be men and take responsibility of their actions. We should be giving federal funds to people who will provide therapy and financial resources to pregnant women who find themselves in hardship whether it is emotional or financial. These federal funds would also be put to better use in adoption centers and foster houses. We have created a society that says that men have absolutely no right over their unborn children, but when the child is born then it becomes the father’s child and he now has to pay child support. This should seem ridiculous!
    Women that justify abortions also say that they are not ready to have children because they are still in school. This does not justify abortion because no amount of discomfort warrants the killing of another person. A hypothetical situation describing the moral issue behind this attempted justification could go something like this: A woman is writing the best medical journal entry of all time, one that would cure every disease on the planet. In the middle of it she hears the doorbell and goes to check who it is. She realizes it is a baby that was left on her porch and it is below freezing outside, but she decides to leave it there and continue with her journal until she is done. When she returns to the baby, he is dead. This should most definitely create some type of intuition that what the women did was wrong. The woman should have stopped what she was doing and taken care of that baby even if it would take nine months and continue with her journal as she took care of the kid. We want a society that will put family and love as a first priority instead of money, sex, and power.
    Jeff McMahan and Peter Singer have an issue with what seems to be an inconsistency between the attitude taken against abortion and the attitude taken against killing a sentient creature in such activities like hunting and slaughtering to eat. I believe that they should continue with their movement to promote vegetarianism and at the same time persuade people to respect the lives of all animals including humans. They’re passion for animal rights should not exclude the rights of their own species.
    Judith Thompson’s violinist argument where she parallels being pregnant with having a violinist forcibly attached to her side is not relevant at all. First for 98% of abortions according to the Guttmacher institute the “violinist” is not “forcibly” attached. The fetus is a result of two consenting humans who know that the possibility of bringing a dependent human is a very real one. Not only that but this seems to be a kind of reasoning that can only apply to abortion. What Thompson wants the anti-abortion movement to prove is that a mother and her child belong together, and that the mother has a responsibility to care for her own child. The type of argument being used by her is that you are giving life support to that fetus and you can simply take it away because your own body belongs to you and allow the fetus to die. The only issue with this is that through abortion you are not letting the fetus you are in fact killing it by taking his/her limbs off and eventually crushing his/her head off. Jeff McMahan has a response and says that we should try to avoid injuring the fetus and just use extraction to let the fetus die on her/his own. This is also problematic because imagine the picture created by this. A disabled human is dying right before your eyes and you are failing in your moral duty to help your fellow man. Cases have been seen where someone will just walk by someone dying on the street but that for sure does not make it right. We should most definitely help anyone in need especially our own species.
    The virtues of this society are on the decline due to abortion. Everything is now relative and no one is interested in truth. We have taught our children to accept everyone’s beliefs even if the view is that mothers are able to kill their own children. We have the right to disagree and pose strong arguments to come closer to truth. The more value we can put on our own species, the more value we can give to other species as Dr. McMahan and Dr. Singer would like. With a new surge in value for human life will come a greater compassion towards all humans. We will do everything we can for rape victims, and all other victims of all crimes. We would also, I project have more motivation in helping all men who are in danger of dying.
    In conclusion we should not settle with the current moral expectations of society and work with that. What we should be doing is forcing humans to adapt to a higher moral standard and then working with that. Morality should always inform pragmatism. When we come to a moral conclusion we should aspire to operate with it even if it seems like it does not go in accordance with the current social ideals and convictions.


    April 18, 2014 at 3:40 am | Reply
  2. Mia

    Seriously people. Lets face it there are no exceptions. Its a life. My son had a life then just as much as he had one now. Wake the hell up. I was raped. And I got pregnant. It happens. It's funny because all I heard was abort abort! I AM SO GLAD I NEVER LISTENED to the doctors, to my friends. Thank you to the people who treated this growing person inside me as another human being, as he was, as he is today! He is loved. I am loved by him. I never think about that time, I don't see his "biological fathers" face in him, and I could care less. Thats what healing is. I'm over what happened. And I am STRONGER because of it, I have the most AMAZING son. Don't dare threaten those children out there like him with your exceptions. We women are stronger than you think. I used to barely get through school, my son gave me something to work for, now I'm a medical student in my fourth year, married to a man who will soon be adopting my son. And no one cares how he got here, it matters that he did and that he's loved by a whole lot of people. So to all you people who want to tell people its ok to have an abortion in rape, may be just for a change, give them a little support, a little encouragement, tell them this can be a good thing...a really really good thing.

    February 12, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  3. D.J.

    Listening to comments from people who have NEVER been in this position, have they ever talked to someone this has happened to? Likely not! Because women in this position do NOT always share this information, Women have been having abortions from rape from time immemorial .... as one who has been there, you have no idea what I went through physically, emotionally, I have a friend to decided to keep a baby conceived in rape who now looks at her daughters attacker's face every time she looks at this child, I have another friend who chose to have an abortion as the man was dangerous, and stalking her.

    So for all of those who think, well just have it and give it up,..... its not that simple, about 25% of all adoptions FAIL! We never talk about that.... who are you, in this land of the free to tell me with my health conditions, and others that I must carry that pregnancy to term? I nearly died having a child the year before. This is a privacy issue,.... between me and my conscience, my god, my decision.

    Support rape prevention programs, address mental health needs, lobby for more research into safer and effective contraception, continue the new insurance requirement that contraception is covered by insurance and medicaid ( in many states it isn't) promote the morning after pill BEFORE the egg can get fertilized and implanted,

    but don't tell a victim that she has to be re-victimized for a lifetime!

    January 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I think that Lila was hitting it home when she said it's not an issue of the woman's body, it's an issue of where do the woman's rights over throw someone else's? It's a biological fact that the baby is separate from it's mother. We wouldn't kill toddlers, while they're still developing and reliant upon their parents, would we? The same principle applies. Why is murder wrong? Because it is allowing one person to kill another. It's one person infringing upon someone else's pursuit of happiness. Abortion kills someone, whether we want to believe it or not. I'm almost surprised that more people don't understand this.

    January 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  5. PennyDreadful

    So true, ProtectAmericanJobs!!

    January 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Reply
    • ProtectAmericanJobs

      Thanks – We'd really all be better off by just cutting through the BS and all the my team vs your team name calling nonsense and really focus on America and improving the future of the American people.

      It shouldn't be all about Democrats or Republicans/Tea-whatevers! It should be about Americans, especially our elected officials, doing the right thing for our country and its citizens. All the single-minded, left versus right, ideological one dimensional bull has got to go!

      Once they're elected, our leaders should be working together for the good of the our country and our citizens by using combinations of the best ideas from both sides versus just trying to make the other side look bad so they lose the next election. – How's that been working?

      Both sides are still trying to get us to drink their brand of Kool-Aid, but it's just different flavors of the same thing and in the long run both brands are making us sick.

      The American People need our leaders to start remembering that they are elected by the Citizens of the United States of America to represent the interests of those citizens and the country itself and that They are NOT elected by or to represent the Global Market Place, Lobbyist or Foreign citizens!

      Over the last 25-years, our government has allowed our country's industries to get sucked out to China, India, Mexico, etc and allowed illegal aliens and H-1B foreigners to come into our country and take away tax-paying Americans jobs and drive down prices and wages.

      The lack of businesses and good jobs in the USA is what's really going to rob us, our children, grand children and great grand children of the potential of a prosperous or even decent future.

      The ONLY REAL FIX for our great country is to RAISE REVENUE, by Bringing Back Businesses and Jobs to TAX-PAYING AMERICAN CITIZENS.

      Wouldn't the American people be better off, if Our Elected Leaders Started Working Together as AMERICANS for AMERICANS and AMERICA, instead of just bickering, stalling and posturing for the next election as democrats and republicans! The American People have had it with this unproductive BS! The way that both parties having been operating for years just stinks! Neither party has really been looking out for the best interests of the US Citizens who elect them and who they're supposed to represent.

      January 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  6. WABoisso

    I'm pro-choice, but sometimes I think us liberals are a tad too hard on pro-lifers like Lila. I think it's clear that the vast majority of those opposed to abortion have good (if arguably misguided) intentions and are not trying to restrict the rights of women, but simply the rights of the unborn child. They aren't necessarily sexist, they just have a controversial view on when a fetus becomes a person.

    January 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  7. Kurt

    There shouldn't need to be any exceptions.

    I firmly believe that a woman has the right to determine who or what stays in her body at any point. At no point should a person be forced to provide their body as an incubator for something they don't want... even if you believe that the embryo is a person with rights. They don't have the right to occupy another person's uterus.

    If the fetus has developed to a point it can survive on its own... then I would be okay with having a c-section performed or a regular delivery and putting it up for adoption. But if it can't, I still don't believe a woman should be FORCED to incubate the fetus for any additional time should she not want to.

    And that's what all this comes down to. Legally FORCING women who've become pregnant into carrying that child to term. How much law are you willing to put behind that enslavement of women? Will she not be able to drink while pregnant (keep in mind she doesn't want to keep the child)? How about ride roller coasters? Can she punch herself in the stomach? Ingest poisons in hopes of miscarrying?

    Are you going to keep women locked up while they're pregnant in order to insure their embryo is safely carried to term? Or will you finally admit that they have the right to do what they like with their own body... and that includes evicting a resident that they don't want there.

    January 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  8. Vince

    This is a current article? I thought it was "Far Back Friday" or something and I was clicking on a link to the 60s or 70s.

    January 24, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
  9. barbara

    I am pro choice. If ban abortion but make an exception for rape, you are nullifying the reason for banning abortion. If you ban abortion because you hold that a fetus is a child, then you can't say, we value life "except" if that life was conceived through rape. It's not the fetus' fault it was conceived through rape.

    January 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Reply

    Exceptions are rape, incest and if the mothers life is in danger.

    Rape and incest can be decided well BEFORE 20 weeks.

    January 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  11. ProtectAmericanJobs

    Perot said it back in 1992 "Jobs getting sucked out of the country" – Many people saw it back then, but unfortunately too many people bought into the spin of "BS" that we were being sold. Seems that both parties were always able to distract and polarize voters with peripheral social issues like Gay Marriage and Abortion, which got most voters so caught up in the BS that they lost sight of the bigger picture.

    January 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  12. Steve

    There super conservatives always have trouble with this. The way I see it is if there is one exemption from abortion every woman who needs/wants an abortion will claim that exemption. In this case it will be rape, suddenly there will be a whole bunch of rapes committed by nameless faceless guys who never could possibly get caught because they don't exist. Why do we keep playing the abortion game again and again?

    January 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Reply

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