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Alabama abortion ban honors all life
On Tuesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed "The Human Life Protection Act," which imposes criminal penalties on a doctor who attempts or commits an abortion. The law makes exceptions for extreme cases when a pregnancy may become life-threatening, but protects even those preborn babies who are conceived as a result of rape or incest.
While less than 1 percent of all abortions take place after rape or incest, groups like Planned Parenthood are using these extreme cases to attack the law and demand full access to abortion. But Alabama's law is compassionate and just, and deserves our support.
Rape and incest are horrific traumas that should never happen in the first place. Over my years of investigating the abortion industry, I have seen how statutory rape and abuse go hand in hand with abortion. Underage victims are often taken by their abusers, who are often family members or authority figures in their lives, to abortion clinics to destroy the evidence of their crime - a child. Live Action has documented dozens of cases where Planned Parenthood abortion clinics fail to report suspected abuse, though they are required to do so by law.
Abusers should be punished to the greatest degree the law allows - and penalties for rape should be strengthened. But the law is helpless when abuse remains hidden. It is one of the reasons that reporting laws regarding sexual abuse are so important - and why the failure of abortion clinics to do so creates so much harm. As we have documented, the abortion industry is frequently tolerant of sexual abuse and covers it up in the name of privacy and access, to suit their business goals. Abortion industry representatives become vocal about the well-being of rape survivors mostly when their business is threatened.
Survivors of rape and incest deserve fierce advocacy, resources to help them heal, and the support of their whole community - not just those who want to sell them abortions. Abortion does not erase the rape or undo the violence that has been committed on the woman. Instead, abortion subjects her - and now, a child - to yet another act of violence that also cannot be erased or undone.
As many rape survivors have poignantly testified, abortion is actually an obstacle to healing after rape. When Jennifer Christie was brutally raped on a business trip and became pregnant, she rejected abortion for her son.
She shares, "I was told that if you just abort, everything will be okay, and you'll forget. If you just abort, then you can move on. There's no forgetting. No woman is ever gonna forget what happened to her...Is my son a reminder? He absolutely is. He is a reminder every day that as women we can rise above our circumstances. My son is a reminder that love is always stronger than hate, and that who we are as human beings is not determined by how we were conceived... A woman at her most broken needs hope and help and love and people rallying around her. She does not need violence on top of violence, tragedy on top of tragedy."
After Ashley Sigrest was raped, she had an abortion. Today she speaks of the horror she experienced: "I didn't choose to have sex, someone else chose to rape me. But I did make the choice to have an abortion...My life was no longer more about the rape. The rape to me didn't even matter anymore because I had to live with everyday knowing that I killed my child. It wasn't a rapist's child. It was my child."
The reality is, abortion adds trauma to trauma, and it creates yet another innocent victim.
A child conceived in rape is not the criminal. She is an innocent third party, who had no control over how she was brought into the world. Rebecca Kiessling, a woman who was conceived in rape and now runs Save the One, an organization dedicated to giving children of rape a voice, asks "Should I be given the death penalty for the crimes of my father?"
Federal law currently forbids the death penalty for rapists. Another woman, also conceived in rape, Pam Stenzel, shares: "My biological father is a rapist. I don't even know my ethnicity. But I am still a human being. And I still have value. And my life is not worth less than yours simply because of the way I was conceived."
Every person's humanity is determined not by how wanted they are or the circumstances surrounding their conception, but by the fact that they are a human being. The law exists to protect basic human rights, and life is the most fundamental right of all, one that every human being deserves.
Alabama's law provides a chance to bring innocence out of evil by affirming the life of every child, the value of every pregnancy, and the dignity of every woman, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Lila Rose is the president and founder of the national pro-life organization Live Action. Follow her on Twitter: @LilaGraceRose.