Family Research Council
The ‘Hard Cases’ of Abortion: A Pro-life Response© 2000 by the Family Research CouncilFamily Research Council801 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20001Printed in the United States of America
ccording to the 1996 Gallup Poll of publicopinion, 77 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal for a pregnancy caused by rape or incest.
In a 1991 study released by Americans United for Life and conducted by theGallup Organization, respondents were asked whetherthey thought an abortion would be acceptable duringthe first three months of pregnancy if the woman hadbeen raped. Ninety-six point two percent said that they “seldom disapproved” of a woman having an abortionin such a case. In cases where the woman was the vic-tim of incest, 97.1 percent seldom disapproved.
In a1996 study for which researchers at the State University of New York surveyed 89 male and 215 female collegestudents, 92 percent of students took a pro-abortionstance for girls under 18 in cases of rape. In cases of incest or when the girl’s health is in danger, 90 percentof students had a pro-abortion stance.
An overwhelm-ing majority of Americans accept abortion for the “hardcases” of rape and incest.Even many pro-life activists accept abortion in suchcases, not realizing that this stance strengthens the pro-abortionists’ argument for the woman’s “right” to abortthroughout all nine months of pregnancy. As Mary Meehan, a pro-life feminist, writes, The pro-abortion lobby is skilled in using hardcases to put right-to-life forces on the defensive.If anti-abortionists refuse to accept abortion forthe hard cases, they are accused of extremismand insensitivity to wrenching human problems.If they do agree to exceptions, they find thatthose exceptions are at the forefront of the argu-ment for abortion on demand.
As a pro-life movement, we need to reclaim thedebate, offering a definitive response to these crisispregnancies.