Should rape victims be allowed to abort the child they had with the rapist? Most rape victims would want to abort the child, as the child was “accidental”, and it would impact their lives in terms of getting a job, finding a future husband, and spending more time and money to take care of the child. Therefore, from a medical perspective, we need to look at the safety of the abortion procedure performed on the rape victim, to decide whether abortion should be allowed.
The potential health risks the mother might face if abortion is performed depend on whether the surgical procedure is performed safely. Unsafe abortions, defined by the World Health Organization, are abortions performed by unskilled individuals, with hazardous equipment, or in unsanitary facilities. Due to unsafe abortions, there are approximately 70,000 maternal deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year globally.
However, abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine. In the US, the risk of maternal death from abortion is 0.6 per 100,000 procedures, making abortion safer than childbirth (8.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births).
If abortion were to be restricted, there would be significantly higher rates of unsafe abortion. Rape victims who want to abort their baby would turn to other means for abortion, like unqualified and unskilled doctors or people with no access to proper medical facilities, or try to self-abort. This therefore does more harm than good. For example, the 1996 legalization of abortion in South Africa had an immediate positive impact on the frequency of abortion-related complications, with abortion-related deaths dropping by more than 90%.
From a medical standpoint, this would mean that more lives could be saved than lost. Many medical professionals will tell you that a fetus is considered alive when it becomes viable, which means that it can survive outside the mother’s womb. The age of viable fetus can range from 22 weeks to 27 weeks. Therefore, as long as abortion is carried out before the fetus is viable, no lives are lost. This supports legalization of abortion, as many lives of mothers could be saved from being taken away by unsafe abortion, and at the same time, fetal lives are not lost if abortion is carried out before the fetuses turn viable.
Therefore, in my view, abortion should be allowed, but only if performed safely, by a skilled medical practitioner. This is because the abortion has a low risk of health hazards, should the rape victim want to abort her child, and therefore will not harm her physically. There are no medical reasons why it should not be allowed.