A horrifying story out of Argentina has many people discussion abortion, and abortion laws, specifically in the case of rape of a minor.
An 11-year-old girl being called Lucia, became pregnant from rape by her grandmother’s partner. She was in her grandmother’s custody to protect her from sexual assault that her siblings suffered at the hands of their mother’s partner, which tragically, did not protect her from the exact same thing.
The authorities in Argentina, where abortion is illegal with few exceptions, denied her an abortion, which some sources claim she wanted, as she is quoted having said, “I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.” However, conflicting sources claim she did not want an abortion, and that she was being used for political purposes by abortion-rights activists.
Lucia had a Caesarian section at 23-weeks gestation and the newborn child is alive at the time this article was written.
There is no doubt that the sexual assault of this child is one of the most despicable and heinous crimes imaginable. She has been abused and violated when she was supposed to have been protected. She will need a lot of support, therapy and protection to heal from the trauma she has endured, it is a long journey to recovery ahead.
We can’t know definitively what this young girl wanted the outcome of her pregnancy to be, but we can look at what she said a little more closely.
“I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.”
What is she referring to?
We can certainly all agree about what should never have been inside this little girl, and that those around her neglected to protect her and keep her safe from harm. People are downplaying this aspect, or treating it as of secondary importance, instead treating that sentence as though it applies to the living human being conceived. But she did not say, “I want you to remove whom the old man put inside me.” Pre-born children are not objects, they’re living human beings. They’re not “what”s – they’re “whom”s.
Every embryology textbook asserts that fertilization – the union of sperm and egg, is the beginning of a new individual member of the species. It is when a new life begins their journey, when we no longer have human parts – sperm and egg – but an entirely whole human being, one who needs only time, safety, nutrition and their natural environment, to mature.
What, then, is the appropriate action to take, when we have a conflict such as this? When a little girl has been unfairly impregnated, but when we also know there is another human being involved, who is innocent as well?
Rebecca Kiessling is an American attorney and pro-life activist. She was conceived in rape that her mother endured at knife-point at the hands of a serial rapist.
“Like most people, I’d never considered that abortion applied to my life, but once I received this information, all of a sudden I realized that, not only does it apply to my life, but it has to do with my very existence. It was as if I could hear the echoes of all those people who, with the most sympathetic of tones, would say, ‘Well, except in cases of rape…,’ or who would rather fervently exclaim in disgust, ‘Especially in cases of rape!!!’
All these people are out there who don’t even know me, but are standing in judgement of my life, so quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived. I felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I would have to prove myself to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living. I also remember feeling like garbage because of people who would say that my life was like garbage – that I was disposable.
Please understand that whenever you identify yourself as being ‘pro-choice’, or whenever you make that exception for rape, what that really translates into is you being able to stand before me look me in the eye, and say to me, ‘I think your mother should have been able to abort you.’ That’s a pretty powerful statement. I would never say anything like that to someone. I would never say to someone, ‘If I had my way you’d be dead right now.'”
Both pro-choice and pro-life camps agree that rape is a horrible crime, that we are talking about a victim who did not do anything to deserve what happened to her, when we are talking about a woman – or a child, who has been raped.
Where we differ, is that pro-life people also recognize that a child conceived in rape is also a victim if he or she is aborted. We must never victimize an innocent human being – whether it be through rape, or abortion. Just as someone else’s body is nobody’s to violate, so too, is someone else’s life nobody’s to take. The circumstances in which someone is conceived have no bearing on their value as a human being. We are all created equal, no matter who our father is.
Would anybody justify going to the incubator where Lucia’s baby is fighting to stay alive, and unplugging it, or stabbing him, because of his father’s crime? If not, then why would it be okay to either suction him out, or dismember him in Lucia’s womb for the exact same reason?
We may agree that Lucia parenting him is not what’s best for either of them, but shouldn’t we place him in the care of a family that wants to love him, regardless of how he came to be? Does he not deserve the same protection from harm that Lucia should have received?
Angelina Steenstra is the director of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, an organization dedicated to allowing women who’ve had abortions to share their experiences, how abortion affected them and why they regret their abortions.
Angelina was raped as a teenager, became pregnant, and had an abortion. She says that she needed a lot of help and support, to recover and heal from the trauma of sexual assault, but she says that the abortion took even longer to recover from. She says abortion is a “death experience”, and that it took her a long time to recover from the guilt of “having participated in the death of a human person.”
Abortion is not a solution to the rape Lucia endured. It is not a magic remedy that will help her to recover.
There are some circumstances that are so grim, it is hard to see the silver lining. There are some crimes so despicable, we can’t imagine how to tackle the damage they create.
For Lucia, of course we all wish we could turn back the clock and protect her, but we can’t. All we can do is our best for her going forward, to make sure she has everything she needs to heal and be safe. If there is any silver lining in this situation, it’s that this little girl and her child survived, both the assault and the C-section, that his innocent life was spared and that she was spared the trauma of abortion.