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Ryan Scott Bomberger, conceived during rape, is chief creative officer of the Atlanta-based Radiance Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009 with his wife, Bethany, who serves as executive director: Both have master’s degrees from Regent University. Radiance is best known for erecting large billboards that call attention to the abortion industry’s targeting of black babies.
What do you know about your birth mom’s decision not to abort you? I know she made a really good choice. I’m here. Thank God. Seeing my wife and my four children reminds me every day of her courageous decision.
Even pro-life politicians often say they wouldn’t restrict abortion in cases of rape. I find it tragic that some assume the natural follow-up to rape is abortion—but abortion is often the second rape, with a woman attacked physically and then abandoned. The abortionist is not sticking around for that woman. When we meet rape survivors who share their story, many of them say the only redemptive thing in such a horrific act is the child. And that’s why many of them explain that they could not abort.
And when you read mainstream media references to “the rapist’s child” ... I’m a child of God, and Psalm 139 applies to all of us, whether we were planned or unplanned. We have to love the woman who’s gone through the pain, and offer her something that will bring life and healing: Abortion doesn’t bring either. The majority of women who are raped do not choose abortion. They don’t hold to that lie that somehow it’s the rapist’s baby. It’s their baby. It’s their child.
Are references to rape politically useful for pro-aborts? We don’t define a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome as the alcoholic’s baby, but when it comes to issues of rape it’s easier to dehumanize that child. Out of 1.2 million abortions every year, fewer than 1 percent of them are due to rape or incest. I’m the 1 percent always used to justify 100 percent of abortions.
When did you find out about the circumstances of your conception? My mom had thought she explained it enough to me at a much younger age, but I didn’t understand my story until I was 13. In a conversation she said she could understand where my anger came from, so through that I found out the story of how I came to be. That could have been devastating, but I had an incredible foundation of love from my parents, the Bombergers.
You grew up in a farm family of 15? The Bombergers loved all 13 of their kids, three homemade ones and 10 imported. We had Native American, Black, Black-White, just Black, Vietnamese and Black. I milked cows, rode horses, and had to clean up after pigs—which is the nastiest thing in the world.
I suspect each of you did not have your own bedroom. I have six sisters and six brothers. Four boys in one room, originally only 1½ bathrooms. Sisters take up a little bit of time in the bathroom, so we added another one and had 2½. The water often ran out because we had a well, so my sisters didn’t have a whole lot of time in the bathroom anyway, but it worked. People would think our house was complete pandemonium, but it really wasn’t: At times a controlled chaos, but van trips were always fun. A ton of singing. A little fighting, but my parents somehow maintained their sanity through all these years.
When did you give your first speech about abortion and rape? Shortly after I learned I was born as a result of rape, I gave a persuasive speech on abortion in eighth grade, in public school, and included my personal story.
How did the kids listening to it respond? There were tears. Some students couldn’t even believe it because we think we can look at the veneer of a person and know his story. A lot of my friends at that time were really moved, but two girls in the class after that presentation were still emphatically pro-choice, as they called themselves. I couldn’t understand that, but we have to remember there’s a spiritual dimension there too. Tears welled up in my teacher’s eyes. She never said anything but she gave me an A.
Now you’re continuing what you started in the eighth grade. We’ve had 500 billboards in six states. We had no idea what the response would be to the first one, “Black children are an endangered species–toomanyaborted.com.” We wanted to highlight the facts: Black babies are six times more likely to be aborted than those in the majority population.
How did mainstream journalists react? I didn’t fit the narrative of your typical mainstream understanding of who was pro-life. Planned Parenthood of course came out swinging. We were two parents working from two little Mac laptops at our kitchen table, but the reaction was venomous. We received an incredibly positive response from the public, and from those who were post-abortive. So we’ll continue to expose Planned Parenthood.
When you hear politicians say, “I’m opposed to abortion except in cases of rape,” do you grit your teeth? I don’t, because most of them have never talked to someone who was born as a result of rape, and they don’t realize what they’re saying. Some will put out that exception simply because it’s convenient. I hope to connect with some of these politicians and share with them the other side of the story. It’s easy when it’s just rhetoric and statistics, but when you have real flesh and blood before you and someone with a story like mine, it transforms hearts. We’ve seen it happen.
Watch Marvin Olasky’s complete interview with Ryan and Bethany Bomberger:
Bethany, you had a crisis pregnancy. I grew up in a good Christian home, but in my late 20s I made some very selfish decisions and found myself pregnant, and essentially not involved with the child’s father. All of my colleagues in my very liberal pubic school in inner-city Philadelphia said, “Take care of it this weekend. Just go take care of it. You’re bigger than this.” None of them understood why I chose not to, so it opened up a lot of opportunity for conversation.
Later, you and Ryan married, and you’ve had three other children. And the Radiance Foundation. We’ve learned that God takes the shame or guilt or confusion and gives you His radiant glory.
You’ve done a lot of research on Planned Parenthood. We highlight the “Negro Project,” which Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger birthed in the 1930s. It wasn’t the “Asian Project” or the “Hispanic Project”: It was the “Negro Project” because in her own words, Margaret Sanger wanted to rid the population of black “undesirables.”