Anti-Choice Activists Push To Ban Abortion For Rape Victims, But They Admit It’s A ‘Tough Sell’

The 2012 election season was largely dominated by Republican men making insensitive and medically inaccurate comments about rape — so much so that the GOP caucus actually received professional advice to stop talking about rape at a retreat last month. But the anti-choice community is pressuring Republicans to do exactly the opposite, even though they admit it’s not exactly the most popular message.

Personhood USA, the group that advocates for endowing zygotes with the full rights of U.S. citizens, recently launched a new “Save the 1” campaign with the goal of limiting abortion access for women who have become pregnant following a sexual assault. And at the recent March to Life event protesting the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion activists emphasized the issue that “even pro-lifers have a hard time embracing” — pregnancies that result from rape:

Standing before the throngs at the March for Life on Jan. 25, Ryan Bomberger admitted that he was the poster child for one of the most difficult aspects of the abortion debate: his mother had been raped.

I’m the fringe case that even pro-lifers have a hard time embracing,” said Bomberger, an anti-abortion activist whose mother chose to continue the pregnancy and put him up for adoption. […]

Bomberger, an evangelical Christian, said his inclusion at the January rally — and increased chatter on social media — are signs this issue is getting more attention. His Virginia-based Radiance Foundation aims to “shatter the myth of the unwanted” through campaigns that focus on adopted children, including those who were products of rape. […]

“These are the tough sells in the public,” said [Susan Wills], assistant director for education and outreach at the [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s] Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “It’s very easy for us to convince people that partial-birth abortion or other gruesome late-term procedures ought not to be happening, but when we talk about rape and incest, it’s not a sound-bite issue.”

Obviously, like Bomberger’s mother, not every woman who becomes pregnant from rape chooses to have an abortion. But some certainly do. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that women who become pregnant from rape or incest contribute to about 10,000 to 15,000 abortions each year. The group also reports that 22,000 pregnancies resulting from rape could be prevented each year if female survivors had better access to emergency contraception — another women’s health resource that abortion opponents often attempt to restrict.

And polling shows that, just as abortion opponents suspect, they haven’t had much success “convincing people” that abortion “ought not to be happening” in the cases of rape and incest. A full 75 percent of the Americans who describe themselves as anti-abortion still want rape survivors to have legal access to abortion services so they can make their own reproductive choices.