Many people who would like abortion to be restricted feel that pregnancy due to incest should be an allowable exception.

  • Incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to an aborion.
  • The incest victim sees pregnancy as a way out of the sexual relationship.
  • She may see the child as a chance to have a truly loving relationship, rather than an exploitive one.
  • A pregnancy is a threat to her exploiter and other family members.
  • The victim is likely to be coerced into an unwanted abortion to cover up the crime.
Even in countries where abortion is restricted, incest is usually listed as one of the classic three reasons to permit an abortion (rape and danger to mother's life are the others.) Incest could easily be included under the classification of "rape."

Polls taken on the abortion issue are fairly consistent, with even those favouring a restriction of abortion believing there should be exceptions for the three reasons mentioned above.

Studies have shown however, that incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to an abortion.1 Instead of viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity.

She is also likely to see in her pregnancy the hope of bearing a child with whom she can establish a true loving relationship, one far different than the exploitive relationship in which she has been trapped.

But while the incest victim may treasure her pregnancy because it offers her hope of release, and the hope of finding a nurturing love, her pregnancy is a threat to the exploiter. It is also a threat to the unnatural secrecy which may envelop other members of the family who are afraid to acknowledge that the abuse is occurring. Because of this dual threat, the victim may be coerced into an unwanted abortion by both the abuser and other family members.

Accomplices in Incest - Case Study: "Doris Kalasky"
Forced to have sex with her father, Doris became pregnant. When the pregnancy was discovered, she refused to have an abortion. Her father, however, found an abortionist who would perform the abortion without her consent. She alone has had to pay the price. Read Doris' story

This subject is covered more fully at Rape, Incest and Abortion.

1. Maloof, "The Consequences of Incest: Giving and Taking Life" The Psychological Aspects of Abortion (eds. Mall & Watts, Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 84-85.