I was conceived in 1972 as a result of the stranger rape of a seventeen year old girl. All I know about the rape is that a mysterious man lured my birth mother into his vehicle before transporting her to an isolated location where she was held against her will and sexually assaulted. She never reported the attack to police and the rapist was never identified. She refuses to discuss the details of the rape.
Both before and after the attack, my birth mother was — and is — very pro-life. Before she met me she attended right-to-life meetings and demonstrations. She opposes abortion throughout pregnancy and for any reason — including to save the life of the mother. In fact, before the rape, she had difficulty even understanding why anyone would consider obtaining an abortion. But when she was impregnated from rape, she did just that — she considered obtaining an abortion. She did not do so because she was lacking in respect for human life; she did so because she was aghast at the idea of bearing the offspring of her rapist. Fortunately, my birth mother chose a very different course of action from that of Rebecca’s birth mother. My birth mother decided that having an abortion would be wrong. She believes that God has a purpose for even my life. But the experience of bearing a child from a rapist and being reminded of the attack just by looking at me has sometimes been a traumatic experience, nonetheless. And, it was worsened by her inability to provide a good home for me. The experience of adopting out a child is, itself, an agonizing experience for many women, including my birth mother. My birth mother was so distraught at having relinquished a child that she would weep every Mother’s Day.
Given the background and experiences of my birth mother, I will not deny that completing a rape-induced pregnancy creates hardships for women. What I would like people to know, though, is that the option of abortion did nothing to help my birth mother. Legalized abortion did not prevent the rape or the impact that it had on her. Nor did it prevent the problems that arose from bearing the biological child of her rapist. What she needed was assistance and encouragement in raising me and medical intervention for the emotional problems that resulted from the rape and pregnancy. Women who are impregnated from rape face unique challenges in trying to raise their children. In addition to other problems that unmarried mothers face, they must also overcome the physical and emotional scars of the rape and, in some cases, the emotional problems that come from raising a child who may remind her of the rapist and/or the rape. Women who have been impregnated from rape may also fear further attacks by the rapist. In many states rapists have the ability to gain partial or complete child custody or block adoptions, so the mother of the rape-conceived child may be forced to interact with the rapist and both mother and child face increased risk of being attacked by the rapist. Finally, what she most needed was for the criminal justice system and other people and institutions to ensure that the rape never happened in the first place. Efforts and policies that keep abortion legal in cases of rape divert attention from these needs of women like my birth mother and may create a false sense that legalization solves their problems.
Those who advocate the legality of abortion in the case of rape want people to believe that the progeny of rapists will inevitably become rapists as well. In my case, at least, that insinuation is false— I have never raped anyone and never will. I have no criminal record or any history of harming anyone. Furthermore, I deplore rape and have written to officeholders asking them to take more aggressive action against rapists. When I came to discover that rape conception was the genesis of my own existence, I was extremely angry at my biological father for how he treated my birth mother. I wondered in exasperation how any human being — my own biological father at that — could be so selfish and callously disrespectful as to bring about a rape conception just for some wrongful motive. It seemed incomprehensible. There is no empirical evidence that any of the progeny of rapists, in fact, are more likely to be rapists themselves.
Those who advocate the legality of abortion in the case of rape also want people to believe that all rapes are inevitable. Such was clearly not the case in my birth mother’s rape nor is it in the vast majority of rapes. Statistics show that in the vast majority of cases of rape — approximately 98 percent –, as in the case of my birth mother, the rapist is not brought to anything resembling justice. My biological father may very well have raped before and raped again afterward because there was a very small likelihood that he would have been incarcerated for any length of time for any rape. The lack of an effective system for retribution also meant that he had no reason to choose to refrain from rape. And with little possibility of punishment for the crime, he had no reason to be deterred from committing sexual assaults. Moreover, few people in our society speak out against and shame rapists, so he had little reason to feel guilty about the crime or fear loss of reputation. All of these problems are very correctable with today’s technology. The reason why these problems are not corrected, and why, therefore, the overwhelming majority of rapes are allowed to occur, is because the political will to end the scourge of rape has not been realized. But if that will was realized then very few women would ever be faced with pregnancy from rape.
Thank you for reading my story.