What is Your Life Worth?

You can’t put a price on your life, can you?  The question of what your life is worth quickly takes you out of valuations measured in money or in terms of any material good.  Your life, in every meaning of the term, is priceless, isn’t it?

Does it matter at all — does it enter into the equation at all — where you come from, or who your ancestors are?  Is there anything that some person – related to you — did before you were born, that could in any way diminish the value of your life?

Certainly that seems like an easy question.  “Of course not!” you are probably thinking.

But what if the thing that someone did before you were born was really, really bad?  Was just out and out evil?  Would that diminish the value of your life?

No?  Not even that?

This must seem like a strange line of questioning, but for men and women who were conceived as a result of rape or incest, it is not an unusual concern.  Instead it is one they face nearly every time the topic of abortion comes up.

You see, according to many people there is a “moderate” stance on abortion.  An abortion moderate really does think that abortion is serious business, that it shouldn’t be “used as birth control” and that for the most part, adoption is preferable — except.  The recounting of exceptions has become a political mantra.  You know it well: “Except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

We can get “life of the mother” out of the way very easily by pointing out that a medical procedure required to save the mother’s life has never been considered an abortion, even when abortion was illegal — and will not be considered abortion if abortion is made illegal again.  The Catholic Church has raised to the honor of sainthood a mother who choose to forego cancer treatment so that her baby might live, and recently that same choice was made by a heroic young English woman.  But Catholic teaching does not demand this.  A woman who is pregnant and who is diagnosed with cancer may indeed go ahead with life-saving treatment for herself, even if it is known that the “double effect” of the treatment will be the baby’s death.  An abortion is the intentional taking of the baby’s life in the womb.  In the case of medical treatment, the intention is to save the woman, not to murder the baby.

Okay, our moderate insists, “But that still leaves rape and incest.  In case of rape or incest, the option of abortion should be available to women — out of compassion.”  That is what men and women who were conceived from rape or incest hear over and over.  And what message do they hear behind the “compassionate” words?  “You should not exist.  Your life is not worth anything because of how you came to be.”

That is why Veronica Diego has decided to make it her business to collect the stories of people who were conceived as a result of rape and incest.  Inspired by the story of her own granddaughter, conceived in rape, her message is that all these lives are precious and their value is not diminished by something done by their fathers before they were born.

But if we really think this through, there is a sense in which we could, every one of us, put our story on Veronica’s website; for we all, every one of us, owe our existence to a rapist.  It is just that some of us know it because the crime was recent, while for the rest of us it lies in the past — a few or many generations.

Just consider the sweep of human history — the wars, conquests and pillages.  Think about the millennia of slavery and the almost universal chattel status of women in so many ancient cultures.  Consider the movements and migrations and how mixed up most of our bloodlines are.  Can any of us imagine that nowhere in our ancestry does there lurk a rapist or is there buried an act of incest?

To deny the value of any life because it was conceived in that kind of sin, ultimately is to deny the value of your own life.

What is your life worth?

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  • Claire

    Excellent article, Mary. The circumstances of a conception does not justify the murder of the baby.

  • nativity

    Mary, The hospital and doctors and insurance companies have no problem at all putting a value on our lives. My last value was place at $500,000. Denmark does not charge citizens for healthcare.

  • mkochan

    I’m not talking about what value an insurance company puts — I’m talking about the value YOU put.

  • Andy James

    Great article. My mother taught me at a young age that life has no value; it can’t because it is priceless. This was soon after the 1973 Roe decision. If a value is put on something, it can then be taken away.

    Nativity, your comment is irrelevant to this article. Using Denmark as an example of respect for life is nonsense. Remember the abortion ship? Besides, it is not the role of government to pay for healthcare. Once again, if the government pays for something, they can very well take it away. I am sure in Denmark that there is a strong, if not mandatory, case for sterilization after birth of one child, since the government is paying for it anyway, right?

  • Cooky642

    Dear Mary and Andy, I think you’re being too harsh on “nativity” and not looking at what she’s really saying. She says that a value (in money) was put on her life. Besides being wrong, that’s creepy! Is she only worth the sum of her parts? Is she worth no more than an insurance company says she is? Of course not! She’s a human being made in God’s image and, therefore, worth the Passion and Death of Jesus!
    The other point in her post is that she’s been “told” she’s (only) worth $500,000….not $500,001. We are being brainwashed into believing that we are only worth(y) of whatever someone else says we are! This heretical belief is being pounded into our psyches (not to mention those of our children!) a hundred times a day, in a thousand different ways. We need to SEE this for the danger to humanity that it is, and stop it before it becomes the NEXT Roe v. Wade!!!

  • nativity

    Andy and Mary, I still say the system of the USA is conducive to failure and despair when a woman is faced with bearing a child without help. Many abortions are done out of despair, not convenience, because the woman feels helpless and alone, betrayed by the man who she thought would support her. The Catholic church does have help programs and homes for women that are victims of abortion or women who seek help before aborting, however, this country needs to provide the help and support in a more assertive manner without degrading these women in any way and part of that support is the medical community to stop pricing medical care beyond the reach of helpless women. At least in countries,like Denmark, where medical help is free, women are not frightened out of their minds at the thought of the cost of bearing a child alone.

  • nativity

    Mary, The primary cause of abortion is not rape and incest, it is fornication. The media and marketing industries of this country blatantly promote fornication in the form of pre-marital sex. If you watch the television program, Sex and the City, you see 4 women who prowl the streets of New York looking for a man to provide their next orgasm. Nearly all of our marketing and advertising media’s are focused on sexual immodesty which leads to fornication which leads to abortion. Adultery is also a problem although not nearly as large as fornication. Homosexuality is also a contributor although homosexuality is a direct result of self masturbation which escalates to mutual masturbation which does not cause abortion. Marriage is the answer to abortion because the mutual commitment required for marital vows promotes childbirth, not abortion. If you want to stop abortion, promote marriage and forbid pre-marital sex and masturbation. Father John Hardin wrote masterfully on this subject and received the agreement and blessings of the Holy Father especially remarking that self masturbation leads to mutual masturbation and also to pre-marital sex and abortion.

  • nativity

    Andy, You should not say that my comment is irrelevant to this article, as a reasonable person you should say that you do not understand how my comment is relevant to this article. After thoughtful consideration, do you agree?

  • mkochan


    I know that that most abortions are not on account of rape or incest, but it this article is about that.

    If I write an article about giraffes, it does not mean that I do not know that most mammals are not giraffes.

    Thank you for elaborating on your comments above.

  • nativity

    mkochan, In India a Catholic nun was raped and conceived. She delivered the child in a normal birth and thanked God for the conception. Children conceived in rape are as worthy of life as any other child. Please do not write an article about giraffes as I am concerned that you may try to prove that they are the only mammal on earth.