Ryan Bomberger has been a central point in a significant shift in the politics surrounding abortion.
In the past, Republicans who were against abortion made exceptions in cases of rape or incest. A new conviction is emerging for a growing number of people: Even if they are conceived in violence, unborn lives still have value.
Traditionally, Republicans opposed to abortion supported exceptions for incest and rape. As Roe v. Wade is proving to be a resounding success, there are signs of a shift.
Mr. Bomberger was born after his birth mother was raped. He now leads a faith-based antiabortion group in Virginia. Since 2021, at least 12 Republican-controlled states have passed bills that would severely restrict or ban abortion. Three of these bills include an exception for incest or rape.
To critics, these laws aim to fundamentally change women’s rights. Kimberly Hamlin from Miami University, a historian, says that these laws allow the rights for fetuses “to override the rights of living, breathing women.” “Women have always understood, whether or not they could say it or not say it, bodily autonomy and political autonomy are two sides of the same coin.”
For now, most new Republican state laws still give women 6 to 15 weeks to get an abortion. This is a compromise. Kelli Stargel, Florida’s state senator, is a Republican. She stated that she believes life begins at conception and that we have a responsibility to protect innocent lives .”
Ryan Bomberger was 13 years old when his adoptive parents first told him he was conceived after his birth mother was raped.
He grew up in a devout evangelical family with 15 children, 10 of whom were adopted by his parents, who were committed to providing a loving home for his diverse array of brothers and sisters. “We all had our different stories, and our parents always shared with us the stories of our birth moms – it was a way to honor our birth moms – since we were toddlers.”
But learning about the horrific experience of his own birth mother left him reeling. “You know, 13 is a crazy time for any child, a tumultuous time of life,” says Mr. Bomberger, who, with his wife Bethany, runs The Radiance Foundation, a faith-based anti-abortion organization in Purcellville, Virginia. It was shocking. It was very painful. It was painful.
Traditionally, Republicans opposed to abortion supported exceptions for incest and rape. As Roe v. Wade is proving to be a teeter, there has been a shift.
Today however, his story has become the focal point of a dramatic shift that has taken place in the politics surrounding abortion. Republicans and GOP legislators who were opposed to abortion in the past generally made exceptions for cases involving rape or incest. For many who have been fighting legalized abortion for years, Mr. Bomberger’s story highlights what they consider a devastating truth: unborn lives are valuable and have a purpose.
Longtime anti-abortion activist Barbara Beavers hands a leaflet to an incoming patient outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, May 3, 2022. The “Pinkhouse” is Mississippi’s last remaining abortion center.
I was loved by my parents like crazy, so discovering the truth about my birth didn’t kill me. It strengthened me and made it clear that I had a birth mom who was brave enough to give me life and the gift of adoption.” “And I found that even more powerful that she went through what she went through, and that I had a birth mom who was courageous enough to give me life and give me the gift of adoption.”
In some ways, this is the inescapable ultimatum of the movement’s focus on the dignity of the unborn. It is gaining ground as Republican-dominated states prepare to overturn Roe v. Wade which held that abortion was a constitutional right. After the publication of a draft Supreme Court decision that was leaked, this seems to be even more probable.
Since 2021, at least 12 Republican-controlled states have passed bills that would severely restrict or ban abortion. Only three include exceptions for rape or incest, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion legislation.
“The humanity of the preborn is not measured on a sliding scale,” says Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which seeks to abolish abortion. It exists or it doesn’t exist. That is the main issue. … We don’t believe in children being shamed for circumstances beyond their control and we mourn a culture that tells rape victims that they shouldn’t exist For some abortion-rights supporters, however, the growing Republican opposition for exceptions for rape or incest only reinforces their belief that the anti-abortion movement is more about women in society. In the end, they want a complete ban on abortion. They don’t believe women are individuals. They think women are essentially mothers.” Kimberly Hamlin is a professor of history at Miami University. “So they believe fetal rights, fetal personhood should be covered under the 14th Amendment and should trump the rights of living, breathing girls and women.”
This question was central to the earliest iterations of the women’s rights movement. “It was the quest for bodily autonomy that really brought women to meetings, to organize for reform in the 19th century,” Dr. Hamlin says.
Women did not have any power over their bodies, she says. The conjugal rights of men within marriage meant that there was no marital rape. The Comstock Act of 1873 muzzled frank discussions of spousal sexual abuse and made the dissemination of contraceptives illegal. Women were not allowed to divorce their husbands with few exceptions.
Even the temperance movement “was really the MeToo movement of the 19th and 20th centuries,” Dr. Hamlin says. “Women have always understood, whether or not they could say it or not say it, bodily autonomy and political autonomy are two sides of the same coin.”
One study of Americans’ attitudes toward abortion, which included in-depth interviews, found 63% who oppose abortion on legal grounds support a rape exception, while 58% who are morally opposed believe abortion may be justified in rape cases. Tricia Bruce, a sociologist at the University of Notre Dame, led the study for McGrath Institute for Church Life. She says it’s closer than half when you consider Republicans who oppose abortion.
Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor’s Office/AP/File
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs a bill that virtually outlawed abortion in the state, in Montgomery, Alabama, May 15, 2019. The ban was blocked by U.S. District Judge Myron Thomson a few months later. This would have made abortion a crime at all stages of pregnancy in nearly all cases.
Dr. Bruce says that the report showed a desire for deeper moral discussions about the topic. She adds that most Americans feel ambivalence, and moral uncertainty in a way that polls can’t capture. Republicans were the exceptions to traditional legal exceptions.
” The types of things people said were: ‘Well it’s not your fault,’ We’ll love you no matter what’ or?The child hasn’t done anything wrong,'” she states. “Republicans also use language like, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right.'”
They were also the most likely to ex