- It is a common assumption that women who are pregnant due to rape will always want an abortion.
- A major study of pregnant rape victims found that 75-85 % chose against abortion.
- Many women report that their abortion felt like a degrading form of 'medical' rape.
- Many women do not report rape straight away, and abortion eliminates the evidence.
- Abortion of minors, without parental knowledge can allow statutory rape to go unpunished.
In almost every country where abortion has been legalised, the so-called "hard cases" of foetal deformity (eugenics), rape and incest have been used to drive law reform. Aabortion, performed for any of the 'hard case' reasons, only contributes one percent or less of total abortions.
However this emotional appeal is very effective and many of those who would consider themselves to be "anti-abortionists" appear to be willing to make exceptions for the '"ard cases". Abortion advocates ask their opponents, "How can you force a victim of violent rape to give birth to a rapist's child?"
If the anti-abortion lobbyist does not make such an exception they are regarded as rigid, insensitive and only concerned about the foetus, not the female. If they are willing to make an exception, they have conceded that the foetus does not always have the right to live.
It would appear to be a common assumption, by both abortion advocates as well as opponents, that women who become pregnant due to rape will always want an abortion. It is assumed that in some way, not having to go through with pregnancy and childbirth will benefit their recovery .
Abortion opponent Dr David Reardon, the Director of the Elliot Institute which does research on abortion-related issues, says:
"The reason most people reach the wrong conclusion about abortion, in cases of rape and incest, is that the actual experiences of sexual assault victims, who became pregnant, are routinely left out of the debate. Most people, including sexual assault victims who have never been pregnant, are therefore forming opinions based on prejudices and fears which are disconnected from reality."In the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion.1
Approximately 70 percent of the pregnant rape victims said that abortion would be just another act of violence perpetrated against their bodies and their children.
In February 2005, following a radio programme in New Zealand that dealt with abortion, the issue of rape was brought up. A caller phoned with the story about a relative aged 13-years who was pregnant following rape by two men. A family meeting was called, including extended family members, where the adults discussed the 'problem' and eventually decided that it would be best for the girl to have an abortion.
At this point, an elder said that while he had heard many family members have their say, he had yet to hear what the girl herself wanted to do. She stated quite clearly, in response, that she wanted to have the baby because it was the only 'light' in the ugliness that had happened to her.
Some women, like the 13-year old mentioned, believe that their child's life may have some special purpose. Victims of assault may have a sense of the value of life and respect for others is heightened.
While they have been traumatised by the aggressive violation of their bodies, they may consider the foetus as something good that comes out of the "evil". As Reardon points out:
"By giving birth, she can reclaim some of her lost self-esteem. Giving birth, especially when conception was not desired, is a totally selfless act, a generous act, a display of courage, strength and honor. It is proof that she is better than the rapist. While he was selfish, she can be generous. While he was destroying, she can be nurturing."
Abortion following rape
Many women report that their abortions felt like a degrading and brutal form of medical rape.2 Reardon's article Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths says that the association between abortion and rape is not hard to understand:
"Abortion involves a painful examination of a woman's sexual organs by a masked stranger who is invading her body. Once she is on the operating table, she loses control over her body. If she protests and asks for the abortionist to stop, she will likely be ignored or told: "It's too late to change your mind. This is what you wanted. We have to finish now.Abortion, it would seem, rather than helping the woman heal more speedily from the psychological trauma that the rape caused, may cause her even more trauma.In a sexual rape, a woman is robbed of her purity; in this medical rape [abortion] she is robbed of her maternity.
"And while she lies there tense and helpless, the life hidden within her is literally sucked out of her womb. The difference? In a sexual rape, a woman is robbed of her purity; in this medical rape she is robbed of her maternity.
"This experiential association between abortion and sexual assault is very strong for many women. It is especially strong for women who have a prior history of sexual assault, whether or not she is presently pregnant as the result of an assault.3 This is just one reason why women with a history of sexual assault are likely to experience greater distress during and after an abortion than other women."
The victims speak
Reardon's article quotes the words of rape victim Jackie Bakker:
Rape is not something a civilised society feels comfortable dealing with and when pregnancy is a result of rape, abortion is all too often seen as a way of dealing with 'the problem.'
"I soon discovered that the aftermath of my abortion continued a long time after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible. Nobody told me about the pain I would feel deep within causing nightmares and deep depressions. They had all told me that after the abortion I could continue my life as if nothing had happened."
Another story given by Reardon is that of Kathleen DeZeeuw:
"I, having lived through rape, and also having raised a child 'conceived in rape,' feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest. I feel that we're being used by pro-abortionists to further the abortion issue, even though we've not been asked to tell our side."U.S. abstinence advocate, author and motivational speaker Pam Stenzel tells her teenage audiences that the only thing she knows about her father is that he is a rapist.
Her mother was just fifteen when she became pregnant as a result of rape. Pam's biography says, "Five months after the baby girl was born, in an act of courage and love the young mother provided her child a better environment by giving her to an adoptive family."
Pam tells half a million teens each year that she has a family who love her and are grateful to her mother for not choosing abortion. She travels around the world talking to teens about sex, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.
Adoptee Julie Makimaa discovered she was the product of rape after reuniting with her birth mother. Like Pam, Julie is thankful for the sacrifices of her adoptive parents and birth mother, and shares her personal story to encourage others to recognise the tremendous value of every life.
Julie founded Sparrow Resources which is an organization dedicated to defending women who have become pregnant through sexual assault and children conceived in rape or incest.
Together with David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, Makimaa has compiled, Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault. The book uses the combined experiences of 264 women and children and provides a definitive response to the argument for abortion in assault pregnancies.
Abortion protects rapists
It is a known fact that many women do not report being raped because of the shame they feel. These women hide the truth until, in some cases, a serial rapist is publicly accused, and they may have the courage to come forward.
Opponents to abortion say that when it comes to rape, it is often the rapist's innocent child that pays for the crime with its life.
Abortion following rape may add to the shame the woman feels, becoming one more thing that may not be spoken about. Read The Big Secret
Where there are no laws requiring that parents of underage girls have to be notified prior to an abortion, it is common for these young girls to secretly obtain an abortion, and then be sent on their way. In order to protect their 'privacy' they are permitted to return to the same potentially exploitive situation.
Section 37 of New Zealand's Care of Children Bill provides for children and teenagers to undergo an abortion without parental knowledge or consent. This was passed into law despite the fact that 70 percent of those surveyed were in favour of parental notification. Research in the U.S. has revealed that many teenage girls are being sexually exploited and impregnated by adult men rather than boys their own age. It is estimated that two-thirds of births to teenage girls nationwide are fathered by adult men age 20 or older. 4
A review of California's 1990 statistics found that men older than high school age sired 77 percent of all births to high school-aged girls (ages 16-18) and 51 percent of births to junior high school-aged girls (15 and younger). Men over age 25 fathered twice as many teenage births as did boys under age 18, and men over age 20 fathered five times more births to junior high school-aged girls than did junior high school-aged boys. 5
Planned Parenthood's research wing, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, cited in its 1994 report, "Sex and America's Teenagers," that six of 10 girls who had sex before age 15 were coerced by males an average of six years their senior.
In New Zealand, there is no mandatory obligation for school counsellors or medical professionals to make an official report in cases where they know, or suspect, statutory rape has taken place. These young girls are thus denied both the protection of their parents and the law.
The current trend of adult men impregnating teenage girls is seen as a consequence of family breakdown and its subsequent effects on culture and the law. Many girls who indulge in early sexual activities live in a home where the biological father is absent.
The absence of the biological father, in fact, has been found to be one of the main indicators of teenage pregnancy.
1. Mahkorn, "Pregnancy and Sexual Assault," The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall & Watts, (Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 55-69.
2. Francke, The Ambivalence of Abortion (New York: Random House, 1978) 84-95, 167.; Reardon, Aborted Women - Silent No More (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1987), 51, 126.
3. Zakus, "Adolescent Abortion Option," Social Work in Health Care, 12(4):87 (1987).
4. Mike Males and Kenneth S.Y. Chew, "The Ages of Fathers in California Adolescent Births, 1993," American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 86, No. 4, April 1996, pp. 565-568.
5. Mike Males, "Poverty, Rape, Adult/Teen Sex: Why 'Pregnancy Prevention' Programs Don't Work," Phi Delta Kappan, January 1994, pp. 407-410.