W. Va. 20-week abortion ban not in best interest of victims

Not only does it put the victim in a very uncomfortable situation, it puts the child at an immediate disadvantage in life.

Earlier this month, lawmakers in the West Virginia House passed H.B. 2368, which bans abortions after 20 weeks. What these lawmakers fail to consider are the women carrying the fetus they are trying to save.

The bill did include exemptions if a mother’s life was in danger or the fetus wasn’t medically viable (which is the case of most abortions occurring after 20 weeks). However, the bill did not include exemptions for victims of rape and incest.

Victims of rape and incest may have difficulty obtaining abortions early in the pregnancy for many reasons.

Victims may not realize they are pregnant until late into the pregnancy because the event itself was so traumatic that they aren’t ready to acknowledge another horrible thing that has happened to them as a result. 

It is also likely victims aren’t prepared to deal with the medical situation. They may not know where or how to obtain an abortion once they discover the pregnancy. They may not have the financial resources available to pay for it.

Also, many victims of rape and incest are underage and could have complications getting parental consent for an abortion, especially if they can’t tell anyone about what has happened (in both cases, victims may feel ashamed or embarrassed).

The most unfortunate defense of the bill came from 18-year-old Del. Saira Blair, R-Berkeley.

“If you so strongly worry about those victims, which I hope all of you do, then I urge you not to punish the child,” Blair said. “But to punish the one who impregnated her without her permission.”

How Blair came to this conclusion that the way to be concerned about victims is to force them to carry unwanted reminders of their trauma, we will never know. It seems pretty obvious, though, that isn’t really a solution.

Not only does it put the victim in a very uncomfortable situation, it puts the child at an immediate disadvantage in life.

Carrying the child resulting from a rape will be continually difficult for the victim. When strangers stop to congratulate her on a pregnancy or ask how far along she is, it will be an unwelcome reminder of what happened.

For the child, whether the birth mother chooses to raise the child or not, there will be a slew of disadvantages as well. If raised by the birth mother, they will eventually ask about their father putting the mother in an uncomfortable position to tell the truth and risk hurting the child and forcing them to understand more than children should have to or to lie and have that on her conscience.

If the child is given up for adoption, just that sets them up for a complicated life. Often, babies are adopted immediately since they are most desirable, but if they aren’t, foster care is a struggle they will have to go through. Even children who are adopted by loving families will eventually want to know about their birth parents, putting them back in that same position of having to know and understand more than they should.

Obviously, this is not to say that all children conceived in trauma are doomed to a horrible life, it is just to say there are unforeseen consequences in forcing women to carry children they didn’t want in the first place and didn’t conceive based on any choice of their own.