Women made pregnant by rape who do not abort say that hostile and negative feelings towards the baby change during pregnancy. Some women have even abandoned their plans to have the baby adopted and decided to bring up the baby themselves.
Some pregnant rape victims have said that, at a subconscious level, if they go through with the pregnancy, they will have conquered the rape. Outlasting pregnancy shows that they are better than the rapist who brutalised them. Abortion should never be considered as treatment for incest, because it does not solve the underlying cause. In fact, the "disposal" of the evidence of incest through abortion could subject the victim to continued exploitation. Abortion in effect, becomes a convenient cover up for the crime and hinders the prosecution of the offender.
Childbirth can be a victory. For the majority of pregnant rape victims who choose to forego abortion, childbirth is the choice of triumph over rape. It is a choice that says, "Rape will not dictate my life." It allows them to show their own courage and generosity. When the need of pregnant rape victims is carefully examined, it can be shown the abortion is not necessary and indeed is very likely to hinder recovery by increasing feelings of guilt, shame and low self-esteem.
Sheryle Bowers testimony tells of how giving birth was a critical step in her recovery and healing. She was just turning 12, and her family was in turmoil. Sheryle's mother, Mary, was doing her best to care for her five children after her alcoholic husband left them. Then a suitor entered her life. She was attracted to him and appreciated the attention he gave her children. But unknown to Mary, the 29-year-old man, whom she would eventually marry, began a sexual relationship with Sheryle.
"He told me we needed to be very careful not to tell anyone," Sheryle recalls, "or we would get in big trouble." Sheryle's childish desire to protect her mother from further pain caused her to keep the terrible secret. Undetected, the abuser continued the incest for years, even through his marriage and divorce from Sheryle's mother. Desperately wanting to escape, Sheryle tried again to end it when she was 18. In return, he caused her to become pregnant, hoping to force her to marry and go away with him.
The pregnancy finally revealed the awful truth, and the abuser left. Sheryle's family rallied around her. Her mother, in Sheryle's words, "scooped me up." Though dealing with shame, guilt and embarrassment, Sheryle's religious beliefs kept her from abortion, and she gave birth to Christopher, who is now 21.
"I cried for two days in the hospital," she recalls. "It's not your ideal way to have a baby. But does that mean, for our convenience, we take his life. "My son was really a gift from God because he created a way of escape," Sheryle says. "The natural thing is to stay in the dark, to cover [the incest] up. Abortion is another way [for abuse] to stay hidden."
What is the answer to the pain of pregnancies conceived in brutality or abuse?
"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," says Kathleen DeZeeuw in Victims and Victors. "I feel we're being used to further the abortion issue, even though we've not been asked to tell our side of the story."
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Life After Assault League, Inc.
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