Conceived in rape: Should it be a death sentence at George Mason University?

Choice Chain at George Mason University

Choice Chain at George Mason University. (Click to enlarge photo.)

by Maggie Egger

A young woman approached me and as she got closer I could see she was breathing very heavily; she seemed upset. She looked at our signs for just a moment and then quickly voiced her complaint: “I would call myself pro-life, but was about rape? I think it’s kind of insensitive for someone to tell a woman who’s been raped that she has to carry that baby.”

“First, I want to say that we as individuals, and as a society, need to do everything we can to help women who have been raped. We don’t do enough. We don’t do enough to punish rapists, and we don’t do enough to help women deal with the trauma. You would agree, right?”

“Yeah, absolutely.”

“Okay, then let me ask you a question. Would you be in favor of giving rapists the death penalty?”

She looked a little uncomfortable….I waited a bit. Trying to coax her, I said, “I don’t support the death penalty at all, so I would say ‘no.’”

“Yeah, I don’t support it either.”

“Okay then. No death penalty for rapists. Should we give the woman the death penalty because she was raped?”

She looked flabbergasted. “No, of course not!”

“No! Of course not! She’s the victim! But, there are some cultures where a woman who has been raped is killed because she’s seen to have brought dishonor on her family.”

“I know, it’s horrible.”

“You’re right, it is. Okay, so here’s my last question. Should we give the unborn child the death penalty because their father was a rapist?”

A young man standing next to her, who had just a few minutes earlier said he wanted to remain moderate on the issue, suddenly said, “Oh my gosh, I totally get what you’re saying. That’s a good one.” I almost felt like I was watching a cartoon, and a light bulb had just begun to glow above his head.

She smiled sheepishly, knowing that she was stuck. “No, I guess that doesn’t really make sense at all.”

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Maggie Egger is a CBR Project Director in Virginia.

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