When I look at him, all I see is my beautiful son

Lisa Askew and son Callum

The following comes from an August 24 posting on The Catholic Thing.

Rape and abortion are much in the news these days. Sad to say, an otherwise good politician incompetently waded into a politically explosive area and lit a match.

A rape is often the most physically and emotionally devastating event in a victim’s life. She may be overcome with guilt, sadness, and depression. Rape victims speak of feeling dirty. One may never even seem to belittle this horrific crime.

And this is why the case against the rape exception is among the hardest for pro-lifers to articulate and for others to understand. It happens to be the position of most mainstream pro-life groups and, indeed, the teaching of the Catholic Church that killing an innocent child can never be justified, even if that life began as a result of rape.

The logic is unassailable. An unborn child is a unique human being who, by nature, is the bearer of certain rights. These rights, chief among them the right to life, may never be abrogated, not even in furtherance of another good, attempting to ease the terrible pain of a rape victim. An unborn child cannot be punished for the crimes of a biological father.

Quite honestly, many people think this sounds simply nuts and, for some, it makes pro-lifers seem rather heartless. As Feminists for Life President Serrin Foster makes so clear, the victim of rape deserves all the love and help we can muster. And we should seek swift and just punishment for her attacker.

But some will argue: “if you force a woman to carry her rapist’s child, it will be there every day for nine months reminding her of the most traumatic moment in her life.” There is truth to that. If you make the baby a co-conspirator in the crime, then her daily presence will be a daily assault. Actually, research shows that this is the emotional reality for many young women with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, not just rape. She sees the baby as a threat to her very life.

But some rape victims who find themselves pregnant may come to another understanding of the baby. There is gripping testimony from women who did indeed fear seeing their attacker in the face of their child, only to find that what they saw instead was the face of a sweet baby.

Children conceived in rape can be the most compelling witnesses of that unanswerable truth: that every human child is a gift from God. And we have prominent examples: Attorney and much sought-after speaker Rebecca Keissling and activist Ryan Bomberger come to mind.

Savvy public advocates always try to fight on their own ground and not on the ground of their opponents. This is why the partial-birth-abortion fight was so successful in changing the abortion debate in America. It was fought on the ground of pro-lifers. It was idiotic for abortion advocates to fight on ground that made them look so profoundly bad. But they could not help themselves. No less a figure than Frances Kissling, then head of Catholics for a Free Choice, said that defending partial-birth abortions cost her movement many “moderately pro-choice Catholics.”

Our opponents on the life issues like to fight on their own ground, too. They want to make it about the hard cases – but most especially rape. Any person who talks with friends, family, or strangers almost immediately gets drawn into the same thing that Congressman Todd Akin got drawn into last weekend. Making abortion available for rape victims is the pro-choice argument par excellence. It places us in the position of having to defend what seems indefensible.

One fairly easy parry to this thrust is – for the sake of argument – simply to give in. “OK, fine, you can have all the hard cases. You can have abortion for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. That amounts to less than 2 percent of all abortion cases, or about 20,000 per year.”

This angle of defense shows that the hard cases, while admittedly hard, are darned few in the larger abortion regime. Many Americans think the hard cases are the majority. Making the real case clear puts the pro-abortion advocates back on having to defend the other 1,180,000 abortions that are done for other reasons.

Keep in mind that most Americans believe that most abortions should be illegal. The vast majority of abortions are done on healthy mothers with healthy babies.

But here’s the thing. Unless you work on this issue full time either as a professional or a volunteer, these arguments don’t come easy or quick. And in the heat of conversation almost anyone is capable of making mistakes.

This is especially true for politicians who have dozens of issues running through their brains at any one time, and need to be prepared to answer for all of them at a moment’s notice. This makes abortion-for-rape a complicated minefield.

The pro-life movement largely allows politicians to hold the exceptions and still be called pro-life. George Bush allowed for the hard case exceptions and the pro-life movement considers him the most pro-life president in our history.

If we’re going to be consistent pro-lifers, we must help rape victims understand that keeping the baby may not destroy their lives, but rather may be the very thing that makes them joyful and meaningful.

Lisa Askew, now in her twenties, told the Sun newspaper that she was raped when she was 16. She kept the baby, but rejected him and could not be left alone with him. Then something happened. Love took over: “I know he has his father’s eyes and hair but when I look at him, all I see is my beautiful son. It never ceases to amaze me that something so precious and wonderful came from something so terrible. He’s my beautiful boy and I wouldn’t change him for the world.”

To read the original story, click here.


  1. Hard to read without getting all emo and defensive and stuff. The angels likely applaud and sing for joy whenever a woman pregnant by rape chooses life for her baby. How difficult it typically would be for the kid growing up. Ever thought about that? Word gets out, you know. The little girl or boy grows up with an emotional ambiance different from those whose parents are working through an intact marriage. How much grace would a man need to overcome the stigma of having a wife whose child was created in an act of rape? Bl John Paul II produced a great deal about us as individual and unique persons … His generation of Poles likely included a great number of children of rape because of the various wars that raged in Poland in the days before and through WWII. I’d look more into his works on the person. That is the key, the first time in history that a pope has devoted his life to explaining in great articulated detail what the Church has always taught about mankind, the core of anthropology … wedded to God through his service as the Head of Christ on Earth for decades … and one of the greatest of prolife advocates, along with Bl Teresa of Calcutta whose children of rape … a different kind of rape … were the most dear creatures to her heart, and through her to the Sacred Heart.

    • life Lady says:

      My eldest daughter (first of four) was conceived in rape, when I was an innocent 18 nyear old, fighting off guys on dates who wanted casual sex for the privilege of taking me to a movie. She was conceived in rape, and I had to face my family, and a mother who never believed that I was raped but consenting. My daughter appeared with her rapist father’s face, features, and demeanor. It was such a struggle at first, but one day she just looked at me, and that was all that it took. Since my family was in denial about my rape, they never mentioned her as being the product of a rape, and I married a man who fell in love with her the moment he saw her. He adopted her, and 45 years later, still loves her as his own. The emotional toll on all of us has subsided, and my daughter is still a whole human being, unique in every way. She may resemble her rapist-father but as God has made her unique, she is her own person. The exception for rape is still, in my mind and heart, unacceptable, but people will choose as they do. All I can say is, that God has willed my daughter to be because of His Plan, not my own. I thank Him, everyday, for that great lesson, and bless Him for my daughter as well.

      • life lady, God bless you and all your family.

      • Mark from PA says:

        Thank you for your beautiful post, Life Lady. You are surely blessed.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

        Life Lady,

        Did you know that SAINT Martin de Pores was a product of a Nobleman who forced his Black slave into sex (rape). Fortunately for mankind, this Nobleman proved to be more noble than most because he provided for his son.

        Not absolutely sure the Saints mothers was a slave in the strict sense of the word.

        There are other examples as well.

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Life Lady, another beautiful post. God will bless you greatly for making the right choice.

    • JLS, a beautiful post.

  2. Abeca Christian says:

    What a beautiful and well written article. It is a topic we need to discuss more with true charity, it is one we need to help us reach raped victims, pray for them to have courage to choose life. A message that needs to be consistent in order to change the hearts of many. Abortion should not be an option but it is heavy in the minds of many because it is so easily available. If one can look back throughout history, with a few exceptions of course, since abortion was not an option, more people held common ground, respected children more, it would of not been in anyone’s minds to abort….I read stories of many that have been given up for adoption or have even kept their baby….I think that an unborn baby was considered a human back in the innocent years but today…well the abortion industry and contraception has changed the views of many.

  3. A child born as a result of rape or incest is innocent and deserves as much love and respect as any other child. However, the mother will always be reminded of the horror she endured during the rape. Friends and relatives will always recall what happened and be reminded of it. Unfortunately, people love to gossip and, even years later, will talk among themselves about it. What are the chances of the woman marrying? The mother has the right to keep the child, but I think victims of rape and incest should be urged to give the child up for adoption to two parents who desperately want a child and will never look upon its origin.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    At one of our Pro-Life tables at a mall, we had a woman come up to us
    and tell us she was date-raped, kept the baby, finished school and is
    now an accountant… and her son who is now 27 is a great bright spot
    in her life. By the way, he is a missionary over in the Phillipines!!!!
    So, we do not know what will become of the little ones in these sad

    • Elizabeth,

      We do know what happens to an aborted baby conceived in a rape. We know they were murdered, given capital punishment for the crime of having been conceived. They are terrible crimes, both rape and murder. It’s beyond my comprehension how anyone can see abortion as a “solution” for a woman or girl who is raped. Killing a baby cannot make the rape go away.

    • For those of you who remember her, Mahalia Jackson the great Gospel singer was the result of the rape of her mother. I still remember her singing the beautiful hymn with the refrain, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”.

  5. Catherine says:

    No matter how brilliant, how clever, how loving or how congenial a politicians response about rape, there are those who will twist anything to their own personal bias or work their evil to a polling advantage.

    A few years ago while a group of Catholics were praying and side walk counseling in front of a killing center, a man walking down the street came up to me and said, “Can I ask you a question? Are you people telling us that even if a nigger attacks and rapes a white girl, that she is going to have to have that nigger’s baby?”

    This man was wearing a gas station shirt with his name on it. I used his name and sweetly said. “Dan, could we please have some real honesty here? Please tell me the truth. You are not really interested in helpless women or little unborn babies are you? You are letting me know that you are filled with hatred towards black people aren’t you? I could then honestly see this man’s sincere expression of the realization of how terrible his words sounded.

    Yes, even if the polls would have been there for that little conversation, the majority would have been cheering this gas station attendant on. The father of lies will always influence his minions to hate. We should not have to walk on egg shells to not hurt the feelings of the father of lies.

  6. Paul Joseph says:

    Basing general policies on rare, non-representative cases is bad law. An abortion makes two rape victims: the mother (obviously) and the pre-born child. We may never use an evil means, like abortion, even if it is to obtain a good end, like sparing the rape victim added suffering. It is “heartless” to punish the innocent, pre-born baby for the sin of the rapist-father, is it not? In such cases, female rape victims are called to heroic virtue in not aborting, but keeping the child, and deserve all of our support. Let’s also consider that having an abortion results in a lifelong traumatic experience for many, many women, including even rape victims. In this last instance, the abortion adds trauma to trauma.

  7. Charles N. Marrelli says:

    What is most difficult to address is the unfortunate reality of a child conceived in rape. It presents a dreadful dilemma of a crisis pregnancy; a mother suffers the repulsive abuse of her body, and then finds herself burdened with a new innocent human life. I’ve heard and watched the testimony of two women, each became pregnant by rape, and each brought their babies to term, and to adoption. When their long trial was over both said they were happy with their decision not to abort the baby in spite of the great difficulty they suffered throughout their pregnancies. One of the mothers said the child she bore was now the pride and joy of her life. Obviously, when God, or nature, gave women the power to procreate, he also gave them a superior strength of character. Writers for Life

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Charles very beautiful what you just wrote. I think that a good soul, if she ever has such a horrific thing happen to her such as being raped, I think that pregnancy doesn’t take away the fact that she is a mum. The hormone changes do not help victims of rape at all but a good soul doesn’t stop being a mum….something greater comes with that gift, I think that some mum’s do feel the need to protect the innocent life that was conceived. We have our protective instincts and when you are a good soul, some woman just can’t bring themselves to killing their unborn. Not unless the victim of rape came from a very dysfunctional home life, there can be two things that can happen one they repeat the chain of not being protected by their own parents or two they are more protective of the innocent life because they did not have anyone to protect them. All are different situations…that is why we need to have more resources to help the mum to be, the tools, courage, support, prayers, faith growth and strength to choose life for her unborn. The real healing does come when they choose life. The victim of rape only loses when she is encouraged or pushed into having an abortion….

    • It would be good to start support groups of women who have been raped and had their child to help those in the same situation. God would truly bless all those involved.

      • The Gabriel Project helps “all” women with unplanned preganancies. And Project Rachel (First Resort) helps all women who did abort their babies and now truly suffer. We need your support.

  8. Abeca Christian says:

    Abortion only DE-humanizes the unborn human being. When we show that the unborn are human, have feelings….then the heart can be softened and begin to heal. Healing begins when the protective instincts of a mum are ignited. Real good support, prayer, forgiveness etc etc, therapeutic that are faith based are tools that can help ignite those instincts.

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