The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
14 Points

Rape Should Not Be An Exception In Abortion Policy

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,468 times Debate No: 20639
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (5)




Perhaps abortion should be generally legal, perhaps it should be generally illegal.

But if it is illegal then rape should not be allowed to be an exception.

If abortion is illegal that is predicated on the fetus being a human person with inalienable rights.

If the fetus is a human person with inalienable rights then killing it because its father raped its mother is punishing the child for the actions of the father, and is immoral and a violation of equal protection of the law and due process.

This debate does not concern itself with whether or not abortion should be illegal in the first place just that if abortion is illegal then rape should not be an exception.


Thanks to MasturDbtor for this interesting challenge.

As Pro clarified in round 1, this debate is not about what abortion policy should be but rather about whether rape should be considered an exception in it. My burden is to show that the issue of women being impregnated by rape gives justification to overturn the decision to outlaw abortion in those circumstances. As long as I show that the justification exists and is reasonable, my burden should be considered satisfied.

Arguments for and against abortion

In order to better understand whether there is justification to overturn the illegality of abortion in the particular circumstance implied by the resolution, we must first understand the arguments that lead to it. What makes abortion one of the most hotly contested issues in the world is the fact that there are very compelling arguments for both sides. I personally think that our perspectives on abortion typically begin with whether we view a human fetus as a life that was meant for the world, or a lifeless fetus whose existence is yet to be decided. I believe that our views on this particular issue dictate which arguments for or against abortion we will ultimately find compelling. However the answer to this question is merely philosophical, and will likely never be answered by science or any other objective measure.

Being that we as a society will likely always have some level of disagreement on this issue, we can not enforce laws based solely on either of these positions. Laws must be based on factual arguments. In abortion, there are two main facts which are not debatable: (1) A human fetus is a potential human life, abortion ends that potential. (2) A human fetus must remain part of the mother through a certain period of its development in order to survive. It is from these two main facts that the debate, and ultimately the decision on the legality of abortion is determined.

When it comes to point 1 there are many arguments to make regarding whether the fetus is considered a life or not, but I find those arguments irrelevant to this debate. What is relevant here is the dependence that the fetus has to the mother. Those who take the side of Pro-choice are people who may see a high value in protecting the life of the fetus, but believe that the right of a women to choose what she does with her own body has a higher value. And although Pro-lifers may feel the life of the fetus has a higher value, no reasonable person would deny that outlawing abortion takes this right away from the mother.

Legal or Illegal?

Pro claims that if abortion is illegal, it is predicated on the fetus being a human person with inalienable rights. As my argument has so far shown, this is false. Although there will always be some who perceive this to be a necessary truth, from a legal perspective the outlawing of abortion is predicated on the conclusion that the value of a human fetus outweighs the value of a women’s right to choose what she can do with her own body. However the value of this right is dependant on certain factors concerning the nature of the pregnancy.

Under normal circumstances where a women is impregnated through her own decisions and actions, Pro-lifers will often argue that a women who became pregnant did so because of her own irresponsibility. This justifies removing her rights to her body to protect the rights of the unborn child who has done nothing wrong. This is one of the strongest arguments for outlawing abortion, as the factor of consequence is one of the foundational principles of society. That is that those who make mistakes must suffer the consequences for them.

This argument however does not apply to a female who was raped. In this scenario the women has done nothing wrong, and therefore there is no warrant for removing her right to choose. Moreover, removing such right would place additional emotional trauma on the victim by having to now carry the child of the man who committed this terrible crime against her. Forcing a women to give up her right to choose and endure this trauma when she has done nothing wrong is not reasonable. Based on this it is easy to see why rape should be an exception to abortion law.

Debate Round No. 1


Rebuttal 1: It Does Not Follow That Because Philosophical Issues Are Involved That We Can Not Enforce Laws
My opponent says "I personally think that our perspectives on abortion typically begin with whether we view a human fetus as a life that was meant for the world, or a lifeless fetus whose existence is yet to be decided." and then goes on to say "However the answer to this question is merely philosophical, and will likely never be answered by science or any other objective measure."

"Being that we as a society will likely always have some level of disagreement on this issue, we can not enforce laws based solely on either of these positions."

Yes, we can. It may be that neither side can prove itself definitively it is necessary for a stance to be taken one way or another to prevent chaos and anarchy. The state must either allow abortion, thereby prohibiting the enforcement of the view that the fetus is a life with rights onto those who would disagree, or it must disallow abortion thereby actively enforcing that view against those that disagree. Either way is equally unfair. Which side is ultimately correct depends on your point-of-view.

Furthermore, all legal and political arguments ultimately rest on some assertion of rights be it the right to life, right of freedom of speech, etc. It is simply not possible to have a politics that has a purely objective base. It must all boil down to human perspective. But that does not mean we can just say "anything goes", because that invites tyranny and lack of accountability. Some stable set of core rights and values must underly public policy. In short there must be some level of consistency in how arguments are implemented to make public policy or else the whole thing risks tumbling like a house of cards.

Rebuttal 2: Implications For Property Rights

Con points out that a fetus must remain inside of the mother to survive and states that the right of a woman to choose what she does with her own body has a higher value. This opinion is fair. One may hold that a fetus has a right to life, but that the right to property(in the woman's own body) outweighs the right to life.

Con then claims that we could say the woman's right to property over her body only trumps the fetus' right to life in cases of rape and this would be fine, because she allowed the pregnancy to happen in cases that were not rape.

But let's look at the implications of this sort of reasoning with a comparison to a more familiar form of property, a house. If a person has a right to property in their own home clearly they have an even stronger right to property in their own body, the body itself being the most personal thing a person owns.

Compare "consentual unprotected sex" that results in a "baby" to "leaving the door to your house open" that results in a "stranger walking in from the cold to get shelter and heat".

To make them more comparable let's say it is extremely cold out and the stranger will die in the cold if he is turned away. Because of the importance of property rights particularly in one's own home the fact that the person left the door open does not give the stranger a right to stay. Even if the stranger were explicitly invited in the owner of the home would still be within their rights to tell the stranger to get lost, even knowing the stranger will die out in the cold without shelter.

Rebuttal 3: We Must Not Create 2nd-Class Citizens Or Punish The Child For The Father's Crime

To say that the fetus has a "right to life" but one that can be trumped by a woman's "right to property" in her own body if it occured because of rape it is to recognize in effect that the fetus has some of the rights of personhood, but that those rights are waivable in the case that its life was the product of rape.

This has 2 unfortunately implications. One is that the fetus is effectively put into a gray area between person and non-person, a sort of 2nd-class citizen. Recognizing a category of second-class citizens in our laws would set a dangerous precedent. Historically at many times various groups of people were treated as second-class citizens, including blacks and women. We do not want to reopen the possibility of creating 2nd-class citizens. It is better to keep it simple, either a human being is a person with the right to life or it is not.

The other implication is that the fetus' right to life is upheld except when it was the product of its father's crime, rape. This establishes a precedent that it is valid to consider someone's life "forfeit" as a result of the crimes of a parent. The fetus did not commit the rape and should not be singled out and effectively punished for something it did not do. Arguably this is not punishment, because the fetus has no right to life but if you assert that fetuses in general have a right to life that the government can legitimately protect then effectively you are waiving that right for certain fetuses as a result of the crime committed by their fathers.


1. Laws Pertaining to Philosophical Views

Pro states that all laws must be based to some extent on philosophical views. He makes this claim as if he is refuting my argument, which is not the case. The entire purpose of my argument was to affirm that when there is philosophical disagreement on an issue such as this one, we must turn to the facts. This is how every law with any significant level of disagreement in society is determined. Facts are what determine how we should proceed on anything.

If for example we look at laws pertaining to murder, there is no reasonable disagreement that murder is wrong. Because there is no disagreement there is no reason to argue about it. Society accepts this very basic view, even if it is purely philosophical. As a result murder is illegal and highly punishable. On the other hand consider gun control laws. Some may believe that our freedoms to carry guns are absolute, others believe that they are not. In this case we have disagreement, so we determine our laws by looking at the facts. We look at gun death statistics, we look at safety concerns, etc… Although our views tend to dictate how we interpret those facts, it is still the facts that determine how we handle our disagreements.

2. Property Rights

Pro uses an analogy to illustrate his disagreement with my consequence argument. This analogy is of a stranger wandering into a house because the owner left the door open, and will die if he gets kicked out. In it, Pro equates the stranger wandering into a house to a human fetus “wandering” into the womb.

First, the stranger in the analogy has a responsibility to protect himself. Wandering around in the cold was his choice, if he dies from it the homeowner is not responsible for that. Second, the stranger is trespassing. Breaking the law is not a good way to win a legal dispute. Third, the state has an interest in not allowing the stranger to stay in the house for the good of society. If strangers were aloud to stay in a house any time the homeowner leaves their door open it would cause havoc. Homeless people would suddenly have a loop hole to stay in other peoples houses just by checking their doors. For these reasons, it is obvious why the homeowner does not have to suffer the consequences of leaving their door open.

A human fetus does not have personal responsibility for decision making, it is not illegal for a fetus to enter a womb of the mother, and there will be no sudden influx of fetuses deciding to sneak into mothers wombs everywhere if abortion is outlawed. None of these circumstances apply to fetuses so they can not be used as an accurate comparison for this type of analogy.

The other major flaw with Pros analogy in the fact that he equates a women’s decision to have sex to a homeowners mistake of leaving the door open. Any woman who is old enough to have sex understands the possible implications of it. Yet if they became pregnant, they obviously made a conscious decision to take that risk. The consciousness of that decision is what makes the argument of consequence compelling. It is what separates actions from mistakes, and is the basis of the level of punishment in any law. Yet this argument does not apply to a victim of rape. The victim neither made the decision or the mistake.

3. Second Class Citizens

Pro claims that legalizing abortion in some circumstances but not others creates a “second class citizenship”. He claims that a person either has the right to life or not, and it is better to keep it simple. I really don’t understand his logic here. This argument sounds like it is intended to fight for the rights of the fetus but according to the argument, legalizing all abortion would be better because it is simpler. If Pro is fighting for the rights of the fetus then how does he justify this? How would killing all fetuses be better? On the other hand if he is not fighting for the rights of the fetus then how do the cons of making it a 2nd class citizen apply to his greater point? Pro should explain.

Pro still continues with his point that legalizing abortion only in the event of rape is punishing the fetus for the crimes of the father. Pro makes this argument because he incorrectly asserts that outlawing abortion in the case of rape is intended to take away the fetuses right to life. By comparison, I have a right to life. But if my life depends on another human being to give up their rights, then my life will depend on the choices of that individual. For example; if I need a blood transfusion, I can not have another individual forced to give up their blood because that individual has a greater right to his own body.

The fetus depends on the mother to give up her rights to her own body in order to survive. The fetus as well has a right to life, the question is whether the mother should have a greater right to her own body. The only significant factor that separates these two scenarios is that of consequence. The example of my needing a blood transfusion is naturally assumed not to be the result of another individuals conscious decisions. But if suddenly we asserted that it was, then the idea of that individual being forced to give up their own blood suddenly warrants consideration, because they are now responsible for my life’s condition of dependence. Likewise, the mother is also responsible for this condition. In the case of rape she is not.


None of Pros arguments stand. Pro disregards the fact that a women’s right to her own body is a crucial factor in determining abortion law, and that under certain circumstances rights can be taken away. The very act of outlawing abortion is taking away a women’s right to her own body. Doing so is considered by most to be reasonable only if the woman did something to warrant having her rights removed. This very reasonable argument gives a good reason for abortion to be outlawed, but it does not apply to victims of rape.

Strong arguments to justify a law being enacted are what creates laws. When those arguments do not apply to all situations, exceptions are made. That is how all laws are written. Abortion policy is no different.

Debate Round No. 2


1. Facts Can Only Conclude "So What" without Values
My opponent conjectures that we must turn to facts when there is philosophical disagreement. Yet in any case that philosophy is not considered then the facts can not be said to have any value. With no philosophical judgement at all the facts can only conclude "so what", because nothing is important unless it is given value.

Facts are important as they give evidence that a certain action will relate to your values, but facts can not determine what is valued at the most basic level. However, a fact is that many people think and act as if this were "life".

It is a scientific fact that the fetus is biologically alive, it is also a scientific fact that the sperm and ova are alive before they even come together as an embryo.

Of course it would be silly to require protection of sperm or ova.

Notice I can say it would be silly without factually showing why it is silly and still have a valid point. The point is proven through emotional reception. Some people might actually not get it but that doesn't invalidate my point. That this would be silly is a collectively held value. Similarly a society can hold a valid collective point of view on the question of abortion. If people focus on the brain as the seat of consciousness it makes sense to allow abortion up to that point. If people focus on the "coming together" of the embryo, conception. If people focus on the baby being born abortion can just be legal. There are many various opinions found in our society between "protection of the right to life at conception" to "protection of the right to life starting at birth". Society has already arbitrarily said "no" to protecting "sperm" or "ova" and "yes" to protecting a newborn that can not truly be said to be sentient.

2. A More Similar Comparison
Whether we like it or not a person can even invite someone into their house and in the middle of a chaotic blizzard and knowing the person has no where else to go they can kick them out. This seems cruel to us, yet we legally tolerate it, because to try to legislate against such a specific use of property rights puts property rights as a whole at risk. As the body should be even more protected from government intervention than property, given that the body is more personal than mere property then unless we would legislate a responsibility not to remove people you invited from your home then we should require a woman not to abort a fetus from her body unless the fetus' right to life is more important than the woman's right to her body. If that were the case then it would be inconsistent reasoning to then hold that people should not have a responsibility to keep people they invite in their homes.

3. What Side I Am On
I made it very clear in this debate that I am only arguing that IF abortion is illegal then rape ought not to be an exception to the policy. I am not taking any position on abortion's general legality during this debate. My point about 2nd class citizenship is that if abortion is generally illegal but not in the case of rape then you are effectively giving the fetus a "conditional right to life", as "the right to life" is traditionally part of our concept of "personhood" that is effectively calling the "fetus" a "conditional person" or as is sometimes called, a "second-class citizen", a person entitled to some rights but not all rights.
However, if the government instead takes the pro-choice position and generally allows abortion it avoids doing this, and the fetus is then simply not a "person" at all.
So the view, if implemented that a fetus should have the right to life except in cases where the fetus was fathered by rape uniquely creates a precedent of a "class of persons" that is not "fully person". This could set a precedent leading to certain races, ethnicities, or the disabled being deemed "a person but not fully person". Both the consistent pro-choice and consistent pro-life positions avoid this pitfall. "Only if it's rape" does not.

4. Shades Of Gray In Responsibility
Con claims that because a woman who wasn't raped is responsible for the fetus coming into existance it merits considertion that she be required to sustain the fetus' life with her body.
However, what about a woman who used protection? Or a woman who was reassured by her male partner that he was steile but in fact was not? There are many shades of grade in responsibility. Even with rape the woman could have taken birth control pills to avoid having gotten pregnant. What about in a case where it wasn't rape but the woman did take birth control pills and it failed?

There are too many variables involved to fairly say we can allow abortion just in case of abortion if responsibility is the issue. This would require us in order to be consistent in our application of reasoning to allow abortion in cases of failed birth control, and in cases where the man lied about being sterile(and to prevent abuse doing that would have to be punished in some way even if it was just with a fine, and the result would be a clogged-up court system determining whether a man lied about being sterile or not just because a woman wants an abortion)

There are also cases of "rape" such as where the argument is that she could not consent because of alcohol or other intoxication where the lack of personal responsibility on her part is very questionable, namely that if she avoided getting intoxicated she wouldn't have been in an "incapacitated" position in the first place and would not have made a decision under the influence. It isn't fair to say a woman who gets drunk, says yes, and then in the morning calls it rape should be able to have an abortion but a woman who takes birth control pills and only sleeps with her husband and just isn't ready for a baby should not be allowed to.

Having abortion illegal but opening it up that much would be a waste of a law, since practically any woman would then be able to argue that she has the right to an abortion under the conditions upon which it is allowed. This would encourage people, particularly women to be dishonest. In particular it would be a problem if courts were bogged down determining whether or not a man lied about being sterile, and if that wasn't in some way penalized then the men would willingly claim that just so their partners could have abortions, which would only further promote dishonesty.


Since you can not consistently make rape an exception without making failed birth control an exception or men pretending to be sterile an exception and since doing so would render the anti-abortion law unenforceable the position of making abortion illegal except for cases of rape must either result in an unenforceable law or one with inconsistencies that set either bad policy precedents or sets a precedent for more inconsistency and hence abritrariness in lawmaking.


1. Philosophy vs. Facts

Pro is making a mountain out of a mole hill with this argument. Laws involving areas where there is philosophical disagreement are determined based on facts. Some people for example, believe in absolute freedom of speech. However, if we allow someone to claim that there is a bomb on a plane just for fun, the results can be very harmful. Because of this fact, freedom of speech is limited. Pros arguments do not negate this concept nor is crucial to this debate. Moving on…

A More Similar Comparison

Pro now changes his analogy to a homeowner inviting a person into their house in the middle of a blizzard, then kicking them out, potentially leaving them to die. Pro claims that because this is legally tolerated it somehow negates my argument about responsibility and consequence.

This type of situation is unthinkably rare so I don’t think anyone would conceive of enacting a law against it. If the result of kicking a person out of your home is that they would die, and you were the one who invited them into your home, then it is obviously immoral to kick them out. If Pros analogy was somehow a common occurrence in society then it would obviously warrant legal consideration. But the situation changes if that person wandered into your home uninvited, because that person’s predicament is not the result of the homeowner’s actions. This only affirms the very basic argument that people have a responsibility for their own actions and should suffer the consequences for them.

3. Pros side

Pro continues with his already refuted argument that my end of the resolution would give the fetus a “conditional right to life”. The right to life for a fetus is justifiably conditional because its survival is conditional. We all have rights until those rights impede on others. In this case the rights of the fetus clearly impede on the mothers rights to her own body.

Pro also claims that making rape an exception in abortion policy would lead to people of different races being considered "a person but not fully person". How could Pro possibly justify such a bizarre statement? Rape has been an exception in abortion policy for years, yet society has progressed. The civil rights movement did not occur because of abortion policy. Slavery did not end because of abortion policy. Making rape an exception in abortion policy will not cause us to change the status of disabled people to “half people”. Pros claim is clearly not realistic.

4. Shades of Gray in Responsibility

Pro argues that responsibility and consequence don’t apply to a woman who uses protection or where her birth control failed. Using protection or birth control does not eliminate the possibility of pregnancy. If it did we would not be having this discussion. The only way to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy is abstinence. If a women chooses not to practice abstinence then she is responsible for what happens afterward. Claiming that the probability of a women getting pregnant has anything to do with their level of responsibility in it goes against the very basic concept of responsibility. It is not the mother's fault her birth control didn’t work, but she wouldn’t be pregnant if she didn’t have sex in the first place.

Pro seems to believe that the act which the mother engages in has to be morally wrong in order for her to have to suffer the consequences for them. That is not the case. The issue here is not about whether the mother deserves to lose her rights, it is about whether removing her rights is justified. What makes it justified has nothing to do with the probability of undesired results, but only if those results were caused by the mother's actions. Consider a grocery store that mops the floor to clean up a spill. There is nothing wrong with this, however if someone slips and falls the store is responsible even though they did not directly make that person fall. As long as the person who fell took reasonable precautions, the fall is considered the result of the stores actions regardless of whether their actions were right or wrong.

Pro also argues that abortion should not be an exception because making this exception causes grey areas in the law. Pro disregards the fact that there are grey areas in almost every law that was ever written. For example we know that murder is wrong therefore illegal, but what is murder? How do you distinguish between someone being killed intentionally vs. someone being killed by the result of negligence? What about someone who is killed accidentally? These types of grey areas result in having first degree murder, second degree murder, homicide, etc…

Gray areas are expected in every law and are not a logical reason to deny a law from being enacted. Pro tries to make the argument that this will cause abortion policy to fall apart. He disregards the fact that this issue has already been tested being that there are currently 19 states that have exceptions in their abortion law (1). Pros argument depends on society to be incapable of figuring out its own laws. Society has been figuring these things out for centuries, it will not cause our laws to fall apart.


I have made my argument quite clear that responsibility and consequence give a valid justification to remove a women’s right to choose in favor of the life of the fetus, and that this argument does not work in the case of rape. This is clear reason to create an exception in the law regarding abortion.

My responsibility in this debate was not to affirm whether abortion in the case of rape should be legal, but rather to affirm that there is valid justification for making rape an exception. Pro could not adequately refute any of my main arguments, therefore I feel the results of this debate are clear.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ianhoward55 6 years ago
It's not like the women wants to kill it. It's pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

What if a women is raped, and the pregnancy will endanger the mother's life? If she continues with the pregnancy, she will die. Is it still wrong to terminate the pregnancy? Is this one undeveloped fetus more important than somebody who is already a contributing member to society? Fyi, the mother could be fully capable of producing more offspring in the future...

It's not as if I love killing babies, but there are certain extreme circumstances that we have to do certain things we don't like. Don't make it illegal. We love bragging about how we have the freedom to make a choice, yet we contradict ourselves by telling others what they should do. If you don't like abortion, don't get one. Don't try and tell people how to take care of their body. A ton of conservative people are so against their money going towards abortion, yet couldn't care at all about their money paying for weapons that are responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
Posted by Reinheli000 6 years ago
The women that do have an abortion because of rape thats not right. It wasnt the babys fault you got raped. if you dont want it because you feel it'll hurt you emotionally, have the baby and put it up for adoption!
Posted by Jbrownell 6 years ago
Less than 1% of women get an abortion because of rape.
Posted by fuego2085 6 years ago
i agree with dirtboy345
Posted by Dirtboy345 6 years ago
Obviously rape should be an exception... would you want to give birth to a rape baby?
Posted by Double_R 6 years ago
Photographer2188, I am curious to know if you read the debate. You ask if it makes you less human. I think a lot of that has to do with your initial belief I brought up in round 1.
Posted by Photographer2188 6 years ago
If abortion was made illegal that's not supporting equal rights, which would then make it more convincing of the fact freedom is on its way to being gone.
I support that to the ground, equal rights is everything. Just because abortion is wrong in one eye that doesn't mean it has to be made illegal. I know that wasn't the argument; coming from a woman's point of view, if I was raped why would I want to keep something of that memory? Not every child is a gift (it was a hard truth I had to swallow too) some can bring up a painful memory so why do that to myself. Does it make me less human?
Posted by Double_R 6 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor, would you care to provide some comments on the actual arguments made in the debate as opposed to your own opinion?
Posted by wjmelements 6 years ago
If abortion is illegal that is predicated on the fetus being a human person with inalienable rights.

Is this an assumption or something you are asserting?
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
Getting a rape abortion punishes the child for something it had no control over...

I got raped, lets kill babies.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had a source. Did pro? I didn't see one so points for that. Con provided proof for a choice, pro didn't Handel it well enough. Pro didn't have as much proof and other good arguments con had. Great debate you two.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Double_R wins the choice argument, so ultimately that is the only justification needed.
Vote Placed by Lucory 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: great debate
Vote Placed by Thrasymachus 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Interesting resolution - far preferable to yet another abortion debate. I take all CON needed to do is show a reasonable policy position that outlaws abortion but with a rape exemption cause. I don't think PRO showed the property-rights-based position CON suggested was untenable, so CON prevails. Good stuff.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I'd say Pro had a better case. If abortion is made illegal, it does not make sense to make a provision for rape.