Are children conceived in rape a gift?

***Note:**The issues/questions I raise in this thread may be emotionally disturbing. I raise them in the interest of seeking both clarification and consistency.

I was reflecting on the controversial statement made by Richard Mourdock back in 2012, about his opposition to abortion in the cases of rape, for which took a lot of heat from both the media and Republican Party. He stated:

"I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Some of his critics interpreted Mourdock’s statement to mean that pregnancies that result from rape are willed by God, and the reason his critics were scandalized at that suggestion is because the implication of it is not merely that God wills that we respect the human life conceived in rape, but also that that act of rape which caused the pregnancy, a new human life – was willed by God,

Now, I am sure that all of us Catholics naturally repulse at the latter suggestion because it is offensive and contrary to our faith and foundation of moral theology to maintain that God wills humans to commit sin, and rape is a sin and a mortal one at that.

Yet, we do have before ourselves a moral/theological difficulty to resolve. I am not sure how to articulate it so I will simply list the thoughts I have in mind at the moment and I am sure that the point I am trying to get at will speak for itself.

  1. If all children are gifts/blessings, then it follows necessarily that children conceived in rape are gifts/blessings. Now a gift is precisely that, something which is given, and here the giver is God, since human life is a gift from God.

  2. In every conception/pregnancy, irrespective of its circumstantial causes, there is a unique human being. A human being consists of a soul united to a body. The biological composition (i.e. body, or to use traditional language “flesh” ) of a human being is provided by the person’s parents. The soul however, is provided by God Himself. Therefore, in all conceptions/pregnancies there is a cooperation between God and man.

However, the same cannot be said about all deliberate avoidances of conceptions/pregnancies. Afterall, moral teaching tells us that contraception is evil and NFP is only conditionally permissible. So, it is entirely possible for avoidance of conception/pregnancy in this or that case to be contrary to God’s will.

  1. The conditional permissibility of using emergency contraception (in cases of rape) gives us something interesting to consider:

Scenario A : Woman is raped, refuses recourse to emergency contraception, and conceives.

Scenario B (alternate “ending”): Woman is raped, uses emergency contraception, and prevents fertilization – which otherwise would have occurred ( I know, the latter part is not something we can know, but only God in His omniscience. But it is precisely God’s perspective that is the issue here).

Which of those scenarios was God’s will? Suppose the very human being conceived in scenario A is the very human being prevented from coming into existence in Scenario B.

In scenario B we would say the child conceived is a gift from God. The implications of this is that in scenario A the woman refused a gift from God.

In every conception/pregnancy, irrespective of its circumstantial causes, there is a unique human being.


Can God not give the child to another woman?

I would say that God very often takes advantage of horrible situations to bring about something good.

God certainly does not will that anyone be raped, but if a child is conceived during a rape, you can be sure that God created that child on purpose and wills that he should become a Saint.

Again, God did not will the rape.

But when God saw the rape occurring, He chose to bring some good out of the situation, by creating a child.

No, since our soul or our “I” is not spirit alone, but it is body and spirit.

God can give different children to other women, but that specific child cannot exist without the physical DNA of both his parents.

Hmmm… I would say that whichever scenario happens is presumably God’s will. BUT, let take rape out of it and instead say that we have a man and a wife. The woman is fertile and the man wants to have sex. The woman is exhausted and has a headache. She can either say yes or no. In the first scenario, she conceives, in the second, she doesn’t. Which is God’s will? I would say whichever one ends up happening, but both options are permissible to Him.

Also, I personally wouldn’t refer to every child as being a GIFT. I don’t know why people say this. A sweater is a gift. A child is an enormous responsibility from God Himself. A child will not necessarily make your life better (which is what “gift” implies to me. A woman in sub-Saharan Africa who has 7 starving kids and then becomes pregnant again hasn’t been given a “gift” or a “blessing” in the traditional sense that it will somehow bring her temporal joy. In fact, it will probably cause her unbelievable pain and may take food out of the mouths of her already starving children. But it is a charge or responsibility that God has entrusted her with. Her response to that responsibility may very well lead to further blessings for her in heaven, or may damn her to hell. There is no way to know for sure. What is clear is that she is morally obligated to accept the responsibility that God has given her and make the best of it.

If today I found out that I was conceived from rape, I would say, “Well, I am a Catholic and have a hope of eternal life. So I am still glad I was conceived and born and raised and received into the Faith.”

Also, we are conceived in original sin whether we are products of rape or concensual intercourse, so what does it matter the reason we were conceived?

Yes, they are a gift. The child is not the rape, the wrong-doing itself.

God can make good things from bad things and will allow bad things to happen so that greater good can come out of it. An example of this is when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and then when reunited, Joseph forgave his brothers and said “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

Our soul is per se the essential form of our body. If the essence of a human is defined based on his/her parentage, then that would mean that certain people exist only because of original sin, and that certain people were prevented from existing by original sin.

Great example and quote!

In many, many cases of rape where the woman conceived and bore the child, the child was the only good thing to come out of the act of violence. Silent No More has a lot of stories along these lines.

Exactly. Rape is a violent act, but it is still an act of free will. God would no more desire that kind of violence as he would murder or any other disordered act. A child in this case would be a ray of sunshine in the darkest of storms. Unfortunately we as a society have come to see children as purely something bourn only of our own desires and not gifts in and of themselves.

Children received in rape is a gift. God brings light from every darkness. The horrors of rape are no exception. Is the mother obligated to raise the child? No. Can it be argued that it would be justifiable for her to abort the child? Never. As others have mentioned, there are plenty of couples out there who want children who are carrying the cross of infertility.

I think both morally and legally the mother is obligated to raise the child conceived through rape. You just can’t abandon the child.

This is an extremely emotional subject for me and I would rather not go into much detail; however, I feel it is very important that I do say something here. A very important young man in my life was conceived through rape. This young man means more to me than my life itself, and without him my family would not be what it is. It is highly possible my family wouldn’t even exist at all. Yes, children conceived through rape ARE blessings from God. They are beautiful, innocent creations of the Lord, just as all children are. Yes, children are a sacrifice and a responsibility, but that makes them no less a gift, a blessing, and a joy. God always knows what He is doing even if we can’t see it at the moment. Horrible things happen each and everyday that at the moment we can’t see how it can possibly ever turn out alright. God didn’t forget us in those cases. Instead He put everything we need in place in order to help us heal. Sometimes we choose not to see it that way, sometimes we think we know better than God. We decide to look at the negatives and reject the peace that comes with seeing the positives in the GIFTS AND BLESSINGS God extends to us. I admit it is often easier to see the bad or hard parts. We are human. None of us are perfect. But the voices of so many babies conceived through rape will never be heard and that is so very, very sad. I’m thankful this young man was born.

I think this is ridiculous. Some people are simply not emotionally or physically able to raise a child, period, let alone one conceived of rape. Adoption is also a gift from God as it allows people who could never be parents the opportunity to do so. Are you saying that a 7-year-old (yes, girls that young have been raped and have conceived) is obligated to actually RAISE a child herself? Or someone who is mentally unstable or evened mentally or
Physically disabled? Please.

You can offer him up for adoption, though.

Foundling hospitals and modern descendants

I’m all for adoption, if it’s the best thing. But, I don’t think a child should be abandoned because it’s a rape child. It’s not the child’s fault.

No, I don’t think a child or person unable should be forced to raise a baby, but they should do their best until they get the child adopted. Abandonment is wrong.

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