Arkansas abortion ban is good policy, but it could be better






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The Arkansas Legislature took a ground-breaking step this week when it enacted a ban on abortions beyond 12 weeks, the point at which a heartbeat is detectable. Legislators had to override the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe to get the law on the books. Pro-abort groups have vowed to challenge the constitutionality of the new law in court, so second and third-trimester babies are not safe yet in Arkansas.

But even if this law survives all challenges, it leaves some later-term babies at risk: Those who were conceived in rape, those whose mothers’ lives could be imperiled through carrying to term, and those with serious fetal anomalies.

These exceptions are tacked onto just about every piece of abortion legislation because even some pro-lifers believe abortion in these circumstances is unavoidable. I’m here to tell you that is not the case.

Let’s take a look at rape. The numbers of rape-related pregnancies in the United States are hard to pin down, but the best estimate is that between 25,000 and 30,000 women become pregnant through rape every year (that number likely will fall, as women treated in hospitals after rape are often given morning  after contraception – but that’s a subject for another time). About half of the women who become pregnant through rape give birth to their children and the other half abort. Many of those who choose abortion later come to regret it.  Irene van der Wende, a regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in the Netherlands, was conceived when her mother was raped and then became pregnant through rape herself. She aborted her child, and immediately knew she had made a mistake.

“I could have grown to love my child just as my mother loved me,” she said. “Life is not about how we were conceived.”

Women who choose life for their babies are never sorry they did.

Here’s something else to consider about rape and parenting. When a woman chooses to have her baby, the rapist can claim parental rights. Even more outrageous: Many states have streamlined the process for terminating a rapist’s parental rights when the mother makes an adoption plan, but women who keep their babies find very little similar protection in the law. Also, federal funds – which cannot be used to pay for abortion – can be used to abort a child conceived in rape. These children begin their lives in the womb with fewer rights than anyone else!

Let’s look at fetal anomalies. In our culture that stresses convenience for all, we have convinced ourselves that babies with serious defects or life-limiting illnesses should not be allowed the dignity of a birth and a life, no matter how short or compromised or inconvenient. We have come to look at abortion in these cases as the humane choice. But the loving choice would be for parents facing these kinds of desperately sad situations to seek out a pro-life doctor and a perinatal hospice program, like those pioneered by Dr. Bryon Calhoun. If these babies could choose, do you think they would select a brutal death by forceps or a brief life surrounded by family and love and warmth? Abortion is never the loving choice.

Abortion to save a mother’s life is never necessary. Women do face life-endangering situations during pregnancy, but doctors who are committed to treating two patients do everything they can to save them both, with great success. Dr. Calhoun offers sage advice to other physicians: “Just be a doctor and treat two patients, the mother and her unborn child.”

When I started writing my book, “Recall Abortion,” I expected to have a struggle in trying to defend the lives of babies conceived in rape, those facing serious health challenges, and those whose very lives in utero are threatening their mothers. I knew that abortion is never the right choice, but I worried that the arguments of those who advocate for abortion in these instances would be hard to refute. But my research and my interviews with those on the front lines showed me that the argument for life is an easy one to make, without exception.

If you would like to read my book, now available in print and electronic editions, please go to RecallAbortion.com. While you’re there, please sign the petition and help get this terrible product called abortion off the market.

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