Late last week we heard about a tragic story in Alabama. The Alabama Court of Civil appeals ruled that an unnamed 12-year-old girl, who became pregnant as a result of sexual abuse by a family member, could have an abortion. Alabama requires that minor girls have parental consent before obtaining an abortion, except in cases of abuse, such as hers. But the district attorney appealed the abuse waiver filed by the state on the girl’s behalf, saying that the victim was not mature enough to make that decision and that abortion would not be in the girl’s best interest. The Appeals Court disagreed, finding that the minor was able to understand and that she herself wanted to have an abortion.
And so ends a horrible story of abuse and trauma—in death.
Stories like this make my heart ache. They should make us all stop, grieve, and fall to our knees in supplication to God. Unfortunately, these stories also make us question—is abortion really the wrong answer in this horrible situation? Shouldn’t we consider this girl’s abuse and trauma and make an exception?
My friends, this is a painful, hard situation. There are no good answers. But there is a right one. No. Abortion is never right in any situation, not even in this one.
Forget about rhetoric and political positions and legal concerns. Think about a 12-year-old girl in your life. Perhaps think of yourself at her age, or your sister, child, or grandchild. Think of what she was like. I hope you are remembering girlish laughter with more than a touch of silliness or her eagerness to grow up too fast, too soon.
I hope this memory will make you feel anger against the monster who abused this girl in Alabama, who took away her innocence and trust. But I also hope it will remind you that no 12-year-old girl is mature enough to make a decision to end the life of her child. It’s a horrible irony—that a young girl can be mature enough to become pregnant but too immature to understand what it means to be a mother or have an abortion, to make, quite literally, a life or death decision. She does not understand the wonder of feeling life fluttering in her womb. She does not know the agony that awaits her at the abortion clinic. She does not realize that she will wake up ten or even twenty years from now grieving the child that she lost. And she does not understand the depths of her trauma and that her hurt will not be alleviated by the abortion but deepened and worsened.
Sadly, this young girl is not alone in being assaulted and turning to abortion. In 2015 an Irish woman contacted the Stephen Nolan radio show to share that she had had an abortion at 13 after being raped. “It was all brushed under the carpet and my parents just thought that we could just forget about it,” she said. “Fast forward 37 years and I’ve realized I’m suffering from post-abortion trauma, because I was never able to forget about the abortion, about the son that I’d lost. It wasn’t the trip to England that caused me all my strife during those years and it wasn’t the rape itself – it was the abortion that caused the trauma.”
Some of the women in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign have also faced similar circumstances. Chrystal was raped at age 13 by a family member. “They ended up drugging me and taking me to the clinic, and I had my first abortion. I didn’t realize until later what really happened to me. I was confused and don’t remember the experience much…The thing is, though, it opened a door in my life on the inside that no one could close.” Dawn shared a similar experience. “When I was 13, I had an abortion. I was a victim of sexual abuse from my uncle. Regardless of the fact that I was forced into my abortion, I still deal with the pain of remembering the loss of my son…I know I must share this story with others. I am working on a master’s degree in counseling, and I want to help others heal, and find courage in their own losses and stories. If we can stop other women from the pain I had to go through, then my life and my story and pain will have mattered. Women who were coerced into abortions have pain and guilt, too.” Even though Dawn and Chrystal both eventually found healing in abortion programs, their lives were forever changed—and definitely not for the better—because of their abortions.
We see horrible, abusive situations like this young girl’s, and we want to protect her from further harm, to pretend that it never really happened. But aborting the child that resulted from this terrible crime will not help her or alleviate her pain. It will only give her a new grief to carry.
There is another person in all this I haven’t talked much about yet: the child in that 12-year-old’s womb, the child that didn’t ask to be created by rape, the child that is now dependent on the victim for life. No one could reasonably expect a 12-year-old girl to raise this child, especially one conceived in such a terrible way. But would it not be better for the child in her womb to be adopted by a family that would love him or her? Abortion, even in cases of abuse such as this, can never be the right answer, not only because of the deep trauma caused to the young mother, but because a child dies. And that child, no matter the manner of conception, has value.
I hope that someone who honestly wants to help this young girl will be able to reach her, encourage her to choose life, and help her find counseling. I pray that the child in her womb will make his or her presence known, so that she would know the miracle inside her and chose life. Only God knows how this story will end.
But to those who hear of these stories and think, “Maybe abortion is acceptable in cases like this,” I will tell you this. People aren’t exceptions. This 12-year-old girl is a victim, and abortion will only victimize her anew. Her unborn child isn’t an exception. He or she is a human being who will pay the consequences for another’s crime. Don’t allow yourself to think that abortion is ever the answer. It can only bring pain and death. Hasn’t enough damage already been done?
Written by AFL Administrator Robin Ferguson