According to Rebecca Kiessling, they do. She believes women who have been raped should not have the right to have an abortion if they become pregnant by their rapists. This October, she’s lined up to speak at the University of Washington at an event hosted by Students for Life of America and the (Catholic) Newman Center. You might have heard of them: they invited Abby Johnson to speak earlier this month on why women have “too many rights.”
Kiessling’s mother was brutally raped at knifepoint by a stranger and became pregnant as a result. This was before Roe v. Wade and her mother opted against visiting illegal abortion clinics. Still, she admits she would have gotten an abortion if it had been legal. Having been conceived by rape, Kiessling frames the issue by saying that if you support the right of rape victims to have abortions — or even to have access to Plan B, then you’re saying she deserved the death penalty:
Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, “I think your mother should have been able to abort you.”? It’s like saying, “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.”
No, no it is not. It’s like saying, “Your mother should have been able to abort you, just like my mother should have been able to abort me.” And if my mother had made that choice, I would not have suffered in the slightest. I just wouldn’t have ever existed.
I have some sympathy for Kiessling — she went through a great deal of personal anguish after finding out how she was conceived. But I really wish she had received proper counseling during that time instead of turning to religion. Now, she’s putting her church’s ideological views above the needs of traumatized rape victims and trivializes what they experience if they become pregnant, suggesting that looking at a sonogram of their rapists’ fetus wouldn’t be such a big deal for them.
The pro-life/pro-choice debate always boils down to one core difference: pro-lifers believe zygotes are people because they have souls. Even if we play along with this fairy tale of a supernatural-self that comes along with our bodies, this assumption still doesn’t hold water.
If every zygote has a soul, then:
- What happens to it if it divides into two or more babies? Do they divide the soul or does another pop into being? What if the zygote doesn’t separate completely, do two souls still result?
- What if two zygotes merge to form a chimeric embryo? Does the resulting baby have two souls or does their fusion destroy a soul?
- Why do the gods allow so many soul-having zygotes and blastocysts to get flushed out of women’s bodies before they even know the fertilization happened?
Rhetorical questions aside, this is ultimately an issue of the separation of church and state. Religious/theistic people are the only ones who believe in souls and they want those souls to be recognized by the government, just like they want their gods recognized by the government. But we won’t let that slide.