David C. Reardon is Director of the Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research and author of Aborted Women: Silent No More (1987). He has carried out extensive study on the abortion experience for women who are victims of rape. A defence of the unborn may appear to be placing more value on the sanctity of life than on the needs of the assault victim.
However the fact is that the welfare of the mother and child are never at odds, even in sexual assault cases. Both the mother and child are helped by preserving life, not be perpetuating violence.
Approximately 70% of all women believe abortion is immoral, even though many also feel it should be a legal choice for others. About the same percentage of pregnant rape victims believe abortion would be just another act of violence perpetrated against their bodies and their children.
Some believe that their child's life may have some intrinsic meaning or purpose which they do not yet understand. This child was brought into their lives by a horrible, repulsive act. But perhaps God, or fate, will use the child for some greater purpose. Good can come from evil.
Victims of assault often become introspective. Their sense of the value of life and respect for others is heightened. They have been victimised and the thought that they in turn might victimise their own innocent child through abortion is repulsive.
The victim may sense that if she can get through the pregnancy, she will have conquered the rape. By giving birth, she can reclaim some of her lost self-esteem. Giving birth, especially when conception was not desired, is a totally selfless act, a generous act, a display of courage, strength and honour. It is proof that she is better than the rapist. While he was selfish, she can be generous. While he was destroying, she can be nurturing.