It is often thought that women who have suffered sexual assault and are pregnant would want an abortion, and that the abortion would in some way help them to recover from the assault.
It's worth considering that the reason most people reach this conclusion is that the actual experiences of sexual assault victims who became pregnant are routinely left out of the debate. Most people are therefore forming opinions based on prejudices and fears which are disconnected from reality
For example, it is commonly assumed that rape victims who become pregnant would naturally want abortions. But a major study of pregnant rape victims published by Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion.(1) This evidence alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims.
Several reasons were given in the study for not aborting. First, approximately 70 percent of all women believed abortion is immoral, even though many also felt it should be a legal choice for others. Approximately the same percentage of pregnant rape victims believed abortion would be just another act of violence perpetrated against their bodies and their children.
Second, some believed that their child's life may have some intrinsic meaning or purpose which they did not yet understand. This child was brought into their lives by a horrible, repulsive act. But the child may yet serve some greater purpose. Good can come from evil. Third, victims of assault often become introspective. Their sense of the value of life and respect for others is heightened. They have been victimised, and the thought that they in turn might victimise their own innocent child through abortion was abhorrent to them.
Fourth, at least at a subconscious level, some victim sensed that if she can could through the pregnancy, she would have conquered the rape. By giving birth, she would 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 honour. While the rapist was destroying, she could be nurturing.
If giving birth builds self respect, what about abortion? This is a question which most people fail to even consider. Instead, most people assume that an abortion will at least help a rape victim put the assault behind her and go on with her life. But in jumping to this conclusion, the public is adopting an unrealistic view of abortion.
Abortion is not some magical surgery which turns back time to make a woman "un-pregnant." Instead, it is a real life event which is always very stressful and often traumatic. Once we accept that abortion is itself an event with ramifications on a woman's life, then we must carefully look at the special circumstances of the pregnant rape victim. Will an abortion truly console her, or will it only cause further injury to her already bruised psyche?
In answering this question, it is helpful to begin by noting that many women reported that their abortions felt like a degrading and brutal form of medical rape.(2) This association between abortion and rape is not hard to understand.
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.
Second, research shows that after any abortion, it is common for women to experience guilt, depression, resentment of men, and lowered self-esteem. What is most significant is that these feelings are similiar to what women typically feel after rape. Abortion, then, can add to and accentuate the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault. Rather than easing the psychological burdens of the sexual assault victim, abortion adds to them.
This was the experience of Jackie Bakker, who reports: "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."
Those encouraging abortion often do so because they are uncomfortable dealing with rape victims. Wiping out the pregnancy is a way of hiding the problem. It is a "quick and easy" way to avoid dealing with the woman's true emotional, social and financial needs.
Some studies show that incest victims rarely voluntarily agree to an abortion.(4) 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 her pregnancy is a threat to the exploiter. It is also a threat to the pathological 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.
For example, Edith Young, a 12-year-old victim of incest impregnated by her stepfather, writes twenty-five years after the abortion of her child: "Throughout the years I have been depressed, suicidal, furious, outraged, lonely, and have felt a sense of loss... The abortion which was to 'be in my best interest' just has not been. As far as I can tell, it only 'saved their reputations,' 'solved their problems,' and 'allowed their lives to go merrily on.'... My daughter, how I miss her so. I miss her regardless of the reason for her conception."
Abortion providers who ignore this evidence, and neglect to interview minors presented for abortion for signs of coercion or incest, are actually contributing to the young girl's victimisation. They are not only robbing the victim of her child, they are concealing a crime, abetting a perpetrator, and handing the victim back to her abuser so that the exploitation can continue.
Finally, we must recognise that the children conceived through sexual assault also have a voice which deserves to be heard. Julie Makimaa, conceived by an act of rape, works diligently against the perception that abortion is acceptable or even necessary in cases of sexual assault. While sympathetic to the suffering her mother endured at the hands of her attacker, Julie is also rightfully proud of her mother's courage and generosity.
Regarding her own view of her origin, Julie proclaims: "It doesn't matter how I began. What matters is who I will become." That's a slogan we can all live with.
Adapted from an article by David C. Reardon, Director, Elliot Institute of Social Sciences Resarch and author of Aborted Women: Silent No More (1987) and Victims and Victors - Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault
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. 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
In New Orleans, a 41-year-old man received two life sentences for raping his girlfriend's twin daughters and using abortion to cover up his crimes. The victims testified that the assaults began when they were 10 and continued for seven years. One of the girls said she had two abortions after she became pregnant from the man when she was 15 and 17. She said the man paid for one abortion, unbeknownst to the mother. Her mother, who was told that the girl was raped by a date, paid for the second abortion.
In Arizona, a judge found Planned Parenthood negligent for failing to report an abortion performed on a 13-year-old girl who was sexually abused by her 23-year-old foster brother. Shawn Stephens took the girl to the clinic, but Planned Parenthood did not notify authorities until the girl returned six months later for a second abortion. A lawsuit alleged that the girl was subjected to repeated abuse and a second abortion because of the clinic's failure to report suspected abuse. Stephens was sentenced to prison and lifetime probation.
The parents of three teenaged girls pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to three counts of first-degree rape and child sexual abuse. The father had repeatedly raped the three girls over a period of at least nine years, and the rapes were covered up by at least ten abortions. At least five of the abortions were performed by the same abortionist at the same clinic.
Nine women who had been detained at a state detention facility for juvenile girls in Chalkville, Alabama, filed a lawsuit alleging that male guards at the facility watched them take showers, strip-searched them, pressured or forced them into having sex, beat them, and pressured those who became pregnant into having abortions. More than three dozen girls reportedly made similar allegations, and attorneys said they received additional complaints from women who had been held at Chalkville up to 20 years earlier.
Augencia Jasso of New Mexico was charged with physically and sexually abusing a young girl over a number of years, beginning when she was seven and living in Mexico. The woman told police that the abuse continued when she moved to New Mexico and that Jasso repeatedly threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. She also said that when she became pregnant, Jasso took her to a Planned Parenthood office for an abortion, but after finding that the office was closed, he punched her in the stomach, causing her to miscarry.
David A. Gillis, 36, was sentenced to 18 months to two years in prison for felony child abuse after he posed as the father of a 16-year-old girl whom he was sexually abusing and signed consent forms for an abortion at an Omaha abortion clinic. Gillis claimed he was remorseful about the situation, but prosecutors said he continued to write to the girl while in jail and filed frivolous protection orders against her parents.
Michael Paul Weber of Philadelphia was sentenced to 20-40 years for raping and physically abusing a young girl in his care over a period of ten years, beginning when she was 8 years old. The girl said that when she became pregnant, she had an abortion out of fear of being further abused by Weber.
In August 2011, a Texan mother stands accused of taking her adopted mentally disabled daughter to Ohio to get an abortion in an effort to conceal the fact that her son raped her daughter.
According to a KTRK-TV report, Cynthia Greenwood, 50 faces charges of tampering and fabricating evidence because she took her daughter for the abortion after police began investigating the alleged rape. Officials tell the ABC television station that they believe Greenwood took her mentally disabled girls to Cleveland, Ohio for the abortion in an effort to conceal DNA evidence that could have otherwise been obtained to prove the rape charges.
Court documents KTRK obtained say Greenwood told her daughter she would undergo a medical procedure "so it wouldn't hurt when the baby came out." Although the report does not indicate where Greenwood took her daughter, but Ohio Planned Parenthood there has a history of not informing the authorities about cases of sexual abuse and statutory rape of young girls. Isaac Greenwood, 19, is reportedly the father of the baby. He is Cynthia green's biological son and is suspected of raping the unnamed daughter, who is 13 now and was 12-years-old at the time of the rape. Officials say she told her father about what happened and she is now in foster care.
A Quebec couple was able to cover up the father's repeated rapes of his 12-year-old daughter by taking her in for an abortion when she became pregnant, a court case in the province revealed in October 2011.
It was reported in the Blaze in May 2013 that a pre-teen was raped, impregnated and coerced into aborting her child.
The girl’s attacker brought her to Planned Parenthood, where she lied about how she was impregnated and subsequently had an abortion.
It was August 2012 when the preteen told clinic workers that her 14-year-old boyfriend was the baby’s father — a lie that was apparently told to protect the adult male who had perpetrated the crime.
It wasn’t until six weeks later that she told authorities what really happened. As a result, in April, Luis Gonztalez-Jose, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape of a child.
The horrific incident apparently occurred at a home in Whatcom County, while her mother was in the shower, reports The Bellingham Herald. Gonzalez-Jose will serve nearly seven years in prison as a result of the crime and will be deported upon release.
The case has sparked intense critique from LifeNews, a pro-life organization. In a recent article highlighting the girl’s tragic story, the outlet wrote, “The abortion business apparently did the abortion without hesitation.” The original report in the Herald noted that the girl told the clinic she could not provide her boyfriend’s address or name — key elements that, if pressed, could have helped solve the crime before her admission.
Read more on the case here from the Blaze online report: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/20/pedophile-protection-rapist-takes-young-girl-to-planned-parenthood-for-an-abortion-to-hide-his-crime/
More than three years after they took their girl, who was then 11 years-old, to have an abortion, a West Virginia couple is facing charges for incest and child abuse. Michael and Amanda Adkins were arrested last March and charged with child neglect last March, but authorities have filed new charges of sexual abuse.
In March 2014 a Colorado man was charged with producing child pornography while repeatedly molesting a Red Bluff girl during visits to her Marjie Avenue home during a seven-year period. The case broke when the girl, now a teenager, made the decision to disclose the sexual abuse when she learned the suspect, 61-year-old Mervin Edy Wolf, planned a visit to the area in June. It has been reported the alleged victim was also afraid Wolf would begin molesting her younger sibling.
In a victim statement read aloud to the court by prosecutor Ahmed Hossain, the young woman who was subjected to Vaughan’s attacks described how she would have nightmares about being raped and had been distraught after he pressured her into having an abortion.
Indiana based abortion practitioner has lost his medical license for at least six months after being found guilty on multiple counts of breaking state abortion reporting and health and safety requirements. Ulrich Klopfer is also the abortion practitioner who failed to report the rape of two teenage girls to state officials.
An Illawarra man who fathered multiple children with his biological daughter as the result of sexual abuse spanning more than a decade in the 2000s has been sentenced to 16 years jail.
Court heard how disgusting man tried to blame his own daughter for his problems and paid for her to have an abortion when he got her pregnant
These are only examples from court records of lawsuits that were won and abusers who were caught. How many women have gone through similar experiences without getting any form of justice?