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I’ve never had much interest in arguing over the metaphysics of abortion. Either you believe that a fetus is a human life that deserves legal protection, or you don’t. It’s not the kind of thing amenable to reason or evidence.

But I confess that I’m curious about the whole rape/incest issue. Donald Trump, like many Republicans, has responded to Alabama’s absolute ban on abortion by saying he thinks it goes too far. He supports exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

But my understanding is that anti-abortion activism among Protestants is, today, based on the Catholic conception of the fetus as a full and complete human life from the moment of conception. If that’s true, how can you make exceptions for rape and incest? This has never made any sense.

I get that it’s politically useful, since even a lot of people who oppose abortion are queasy about forcing a victim of rape or incest to bear a child. But is there a more substantive defense of this position? What is it?

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