Subsets of humans have been marginalized throughout human existence, but despite all the efforts for personal freedoms, there is still a group being marginalized, being made to feel less than human, and it’s happening in legislatures all over the United States!
The vast majority of “pro-life” legislation comes with a bitter pill to swallow for many who are left to believe that their lives are not worth sparing—those who were conceived in rape and incest. By the measure God provides, these sons and daughters are no doubt human beings that God designed, adores, and sent His Son to die for.
Offering up a rape or incest exception in legislation has become standard protocol with many groups citing the concept that saving some is better than none—but is it? By allowing exceptions into our belief, aren’t we truly agreeing with our opponents that some human life is worthless? Is that the argument God would have us make?
Consider Matthew 18:10-14 (NIV): “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
A child conceived in rape or incest is not just “The Child of a Rapist,” he or she is the Child of a Rape Survivor, and more importantly, he or she is a Child of God. Society, by allowing these exceptions, is telling the rape victim that there is no value in her son or daughter’s life, and we expect she will want to have the baby killed! What an incredibly disheartening message to send to the victim of a crime—a crime which by nature leaves many victims doubting their own self-worth in the first place. We compound the wound to the victim by expecting she will want to kill the child she now carries—a child that is a part of her.
To make matters even more pressure-filled, many states allow a rapist to use his parental rights as leverage to get criminal charges dropped. Can you imagine? A rape victim’s choices become: kill her baby and pursue a rape charge, give birth to her baby and attempt to place the child for adoption just to have her rapist intervene and leverage his voluntary termination of parental rights in turn for her dropping any charges, or give birth and parent her child, in which case the rapist could try to trade his visitation and custody rights in exchange for her dropping the rape charge. Is there any justice?
In Iowa, Lutheran Family Service has been working on legislation that would terminate the parental rights of rapists and would not allow them to use their paternity as leverage for dropping criminal charges. Many other states around the nation are enacting similar laws! The Iowa bill unanimously passed the house and senate and was signed by the governor. This law allows a woman both a clear path to choose life for her child without the threat of her rapist having visitation, custody, or any part of their lives and a clear path to seek justice.
We are proud to have been a part of legislation that protects rather than marginalizes the sons and daughters of rape victims. They are our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and their lives are not exceptions!
Kim Laube, B.A., is director of pregnancy counseling and adoption at Lutheran Family Service in Urbandale, Iowa. www.LFSiowa.org