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Do Rape Victims Really Need Abortions?
Are rape victims as keen on abortion as we're led to believe?
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Dateline: 7/2/01

Rape was a "wedge issue" used to push for legalization of abortion on demand. But the real needs of rape victims were never taken into consideration.

What we had was two groups of people -- doctors treating pregnant rape victims, and people who wanted abortion legalized for themselves.

The doctors seem to have been motivated by compassion for their patients. These women and girls, still in shock after the assault and the discovery that they were pregnant as a result, cried out for abortions. And the doctors wanted to help. Abortion seemed an obvious, concrete way to help.

The trouble was, nobody had ever studied the impact of abortion on rape victims. Doctors proceeded on the assumption that abortion would help the victim heal, and abortion advocates cashed in on the natural sympathy we all have for rape victims. As for the rape victims themselves, nobody defending abortion ever stopped to ask what they really needed.

One aborted rape victim told researcher David Reardon:

In 1979, rape counselor Dr. Sandra Mahkorn studied 37 women who had become pregnant through rape. Four failed to complete the study. Of the 33 who remained, 28 chose to carry to term, and only 5 -- 15% -- chose abortion.

But more telling than the numbers are the attitudes of the women. As the pregnancy progressed, the women's feelings about the pregnancy moved from a more rejecting perspective to a more accepting perspective. Their feelings about themselves became more positive as well. They reported that giving birth was a positive experience, taking something the rapist had meant for evil and turning it into good.

Sadly, it appears that abortion is becoming a more common approach to rape pregnancy. Of 34 women pregnant by rape studied in Rape-related pregnancy report published 1996, 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had miscarriages.

We would do well to remember that pregnant rape victims are still women. The horror and trauma of the rape will add new dimensions to the experience of pregnancy, but will not fundamentally alter them. Ambivalence -- even rejecting the pregnancy -- is a known normal response to pregnancy under normal circumstances. Rape will intensify these feelings, but we must still remember that those feelings are a natural part of being pregnant.

It is ironic that Dr. Alex Bourne, whose decision to perform an abortion on a 15-year-old rape victim turned British abortion practice upside-down, warned us against jumping the gun in response to women who are rejecting pregnancy:

We owe it to rape victims to go the extra mile for them. We need to stand by them in those early weeks when the memory of the rape is magnifying the normal ambivalence of early pregnancy. We need to help them to get in touch with other women who have been through the same experience, so that they'll know that they are not alone. And we have to put an end to the nefarious proabortion habit of using them as a wedge to gain support for abortion on demand.

Kathleen DeZeeuw said, "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."


Resources for women who have been pregnant through rape:

Fortress International
P.O. Box 7352
Springfield, IL 62791
217-529-9545

Life After Assault League
1336 West Lindberg St.
Appleton, WI 54914
414-739-4489

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