Herman Cain surprised and confused many Wednesday when the subject of abortion came up in a CNN interview. He first stated that his position is abortion “under no circumstances,” but then added that abortion “ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.”
Asked whether abortion is justified in the case of rape, Cain told CNN’s Piers Morgan:
“What it comes down to. It’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision.”
Friday, in an interview with Fox News, Cain clarified his position, stating, “No. No, I do not believe abortion should be legal in this country if that’s the question. I’m consistent with that.”
While Cain has clarified his view on abortion, his remarks raise the question of whether the so-called hard cases of rape and incest justify abortion.
We believe that the answer is “No.”
First of all, Scripture tells us that children should not be made to pay for the sins of their fathers: “The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…” (Ezekiel 18:20 ESV). So, when conception results from rape, that unborn child should not have to suffer what is, in effect, the death penalty for the sin of his or her father. And since women suffer after abortion, the woman pregnant after rape is made a victim twice. First from the rape, and, second, from the abortion.
What is the Unborn?
The real question to ask to resolve the so-called hard cases question is to ask, as pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf points out, What is the unborn? In other words, are we dealing here with a distinct, living, and whole human being, albeit unborn, or are we dealing merely with the so-called “product of conception,” a cellular mass somehow not yet human, as abortion advocates sometimes argue.
The answer is obvious. It’s self-evident that the unborn is, in fact, a distinct, living, and whole human being. That being so—as any competent embryology textbook will confirm—abortion is killing a human individual and can never be justified. Not in the so-called hard cases of rape or incest, and certainly not when done for convenience, as is the case for nearly all abortions in the U.S.
Here’s something else to think about when it comes to hard cases and abortion. Since the unborn child is a distinct, living, and whole human being, any argument to justify abortion should also hold true for a toddler outside the womb. For example, would we counsel a poor, single mother to end the life of her two-year-old in order to help her make ends meet and relieve the stress of caring for a little one? Of course not! So why would we counsel her to end the life of her equally human child, who is not yet born? As Klusendorf puts it in his book, The Case for Life:
“Whenever you hear an argument for elective abortion, stop and ask this question: Would this justification for killing the unborn work for killing a toddler? If not, your critic is assuming that the unborn aren’t human, a point for which he needs to argue. Trot out your toddler to expose the hidden (and perhaps unrecognized) assumptions in the argument.”
A true “hard case,” by the way, would be an ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants somewhere outside the uterus, placing the mother’s life in jeopardy. The unborn child will not survive such a pregnancy, so rather than allow two people to die, the moral choice would be to spare the mother and remove the embryo through surgical intervention. (The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that ectopic pregnancies occur at a rate of 19.7 per 1,000 pregnancies in North America.)
What do you think about abortion and the “hard cases’ of rape and incest? Post your comments below.
Truth in Action Ministries is addressing this issue to bring biblical truth to bear on a critical moral concern. It does not support or oppose candidates for elected office. The opinions expressed in the posts below are not those of Truth in Action Ministries, but are solely those of the individuals who participate.