Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Our readersSeptember 29, 2022
A pro-life sign is displayed during the 2019 annual March for Life rally in Washington. On Aug. 12, 2022, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)A pro-life sign is displayed during the 2019 annual March for Life rally in Washington. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

America Media has been hosting an ongoing conversation about abortion, one of the most important and contested issues in the life of the church. Coverage of the topic increased after the leaked draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision by the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade. An essay by Teresa S. Collett—“Rape and incest are deeply tragic. They do not justify killing a child.”—garnered an unusually large number of responses from our audience. Below are some of the comments, edited for length and clarity.


What I see being discussed in the column is that the life of the fetus is more important than the life of the 10-year-old mother [and rape victim]? To hear this discussed in such a clinical fashion is frustrating. It should be discussed, as others have done, as a ministerial matter. The only clinical discussion should be the physical health of the 10-year-old.
Stephen Healy

This article angers me. I watched my daughter’s mental health deteriorate after sexual assault. I thank God often she did not get pregnant as I don’t think she and the baby would have survived the constant reminder of the assault. And the harm to mental health doesn’t just “fade away.” Mental health issues that result from sexual assault are long-term and take a lot of work on the victim’s part in conjunction with mental health care providers to learn to live with the scars of the assault. Our country does not have enough mental health care providers for every person of sexual assault to get the good care and support they need.

Each woman must have a choice in how to address her physical and mental health needs in her situation.

On the other hand, there are other women who believe their lives were saved because the pregnancy that resulted gave them a reason to live. Each woman has different needs and support to journey through recovery. Each woman must have a choice in how to address her physical and mental health needs in her situation. This is not a black-and-white issue or us versus them. This is an issue of giving love and compassion and dignity to a woman when that was taken away from her during a sexual assault.
Carol Vollmer-Johnson

If anyone should get the death penalty, it is the rapist not the innocent baby. I’m amazed at the moral inconsistency among those on the left. They are against the death penalty outside of the womb, but for it in utero.
Gregorio Robinson

There is always a deliberateness in the language used. Since so much of this is predicated on philosophical, theological, biological and psychological presuppositions, the simple assertion regarding the killing of an unborn child is itself problematic. I choose not to view a fetus in the first trimester as a child at all, unborn or otherwise. And so the termination of a pregnancy in the first trimester does not involve the “killing of an unborn child.” You might claim that this is arbitrary but perhaps no more arbitrary than deciding that ensoulment occurs 60 days after birth, as Thomas Aquinas sometimes held. To claim that ensoulment takes place at fertilization is not only a choice, but one that should be recognized as having no real evidence (at least no more evidence than Aquinas’s view).
Theresa Willox

There is a lot to ponder in Teresa Collett’s article. There are fathers of the church who held that the body is endowed with a soul at conception. The earliest church document we have after the Gospels forbids both abortion and killing (abandoning or exposing to elements) a newborn, which were common practices in the Roman Empire. Has our thinking become so conditioned by the demand for our rights that we can no longer think of life from the viewpoint of the Gospel? Thanks to the editors and author for this piece.
Teresa Scully

I respectfully disagree with Teresa Collett. If my daughter had been raped as a child and impregnated, there is no way I would have denied her the opportunity to have an abortion. Maybe I am a poor Catholic, but I cannot imagine any loving parent forcing a 10-year-old girl to carry a pregnancy to term. In addition to the trauma of the rape, continued pregnancy at this age is a definite risk to her life and health.
Glenn Barnette

The worst thing we can do to a victim of rape is to reinforce their victimhood.

Having been sexually victimized and working as a psychotherapist with others who have been sexually victimized, I cannot imagine counseling a sexual assault victim to seek or to not seek having an abortion. The most important therapeutic goal when working with individuals in the aftermath of being sexually violated is to assist them in regaining a sense of control over their lives, as this sense of control was violently taken from them. The individual should be advised of all their options, and they should be offered support without regard to whatever choice they might make.
Alton Angus

This article came to me at a very opportune moment. As a cradle Catholic Christian, I have [attended the March for Life] in Washington on two occasions, most recently last year, preceding and praying for the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Yet somehow I recently began to doubt whether outlawing abortion could have a good result, especially in the case of rape or incest. Teresa Collett demonstrates the deep understanding needed to overcome the scourge that leads the culture of death. The worst thing we can do to a victim of rape is to reinforce their victimhood. Supporting them with love and encouragement so that they can overcome the evil inflicted upon them with good works would not only sustain the life of the innocent being that is growing in the womb, but empower them with the knowledge and truth that good will triumph over evil.
Patricia Gaffney

More from America:

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, by James T. Keane
James T. KeaneDecember 02, 2022
A Reflection for the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, by J.D. Long-García
J.D. Long-GarcíaDecember 02, 2022
The graces of the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick, Ordination, Baptism, Matrimony and Eucharist compounded as they were being lived out.
Michael StrandeDecember 02, 2022
A group of young adults draw on windows with markers
This imaginary scene depicts the dreams of many Catholics: a church that welcomes LGBTQ people, allows women to be ordained and gives young Catholics a platform for their ideas.
Religion News ServiceDecember 02, 2022