Is It Alright—After Conceiving Through Rape?
Rape is an unimaginably horrific experience! It is a brutal invasion of a woman’s body, her dignity, and her very soul. The after effects of such a trauma are severely deep-rooted. And if the attack results in a pregnancy, the woman will feel even more depressed and might understandably not feel any motherly instincts, even more so if she is young herself.
She would probably envision a life where the baby would be a constant reminder of the rape, especially if it turns out to have physical resemblances to the rapist. She might feel, or be told, that the only way out would be to have an abortion. She will thus seek to rid herself of the situation and, as a result, be able to forget about the rape and move on with her life.
Or does she?
Statistics have shown that very few women who end up pregnant after they have been raped actually even want to have an abortion. A study of rape victims who conceived after their attack, carried out by professional rape specialist Dr Sandra Mahkorn, found that over three-quarters of these women did not seek an abortion.
Many women realise that abortion is another act of violence—on their bodies and that of the baby. Eliminating the life of the child would cause them more suffering than seeing the pregnancy through to term. Many agree that abortion does not fix the trauma of the rape. What fixes rape is stopping rape!
In fact, the majority of pregnant rape victims who abort their baby regret it deeply.
Psychologist David Reardon also conducted a study which showed that almost 80% of the women admitted that having an abortion was not the right solution and that it only served to augment their trauma. Many of them were pressured or forced to seek a termination, either by their family, their doctors, or their abuser. Young girls were often taken to abortion clinics without even realising what was being done to them and why.
Sadly, a large number of women state that, if they had found the right support and assistance at the time, they would have kept the baby. This is why pregnancy support centres are crucial in their outreach to rape victims. When everyone else is pressuring them to abort, all these women need is just one person to show them there are better alternatives to abortion—and that all the assistance they require is, in fact, available.
It is interesting to note that none of the women who chose life after rape ever regretted giving birth to their child, or wished that they had chosen abortion instead. The findings of these studies are, in fact, proof that no one should presume that abortion is the best solution for pregnant rape victims. However, citing statistics to a woman who is facing the trauma of abuse—and then finding out she is pregnant—is probably not going to help her much.
So, how about asking the women who had an abortion after conceiving through rape?
One of the women in Reardon’s study revealed her regret after she aborted.
“I was an innocent victim of a horrible crime. I was not to blame for what the rapist did to me. But in choosing to abort…the innocent child growing within me, I lowered myself to the level of the rapist…It only compounded my pain; it didn’t solve anything.”
“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…I found that, though I could forgive the man who raped me, I couldn’t forgive myself for having the abortion.”
A young girl, impregnated by her stepfather at the tender age of 12, was taken for an abortion by her mother, who knew of the abuse. Her heartbreaking testimony years later clearly indicates that abortion was not the right solution for her, despite her age at the time and the circumstances of conception. She wrote:
“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…Problems are not ended by abortion, but only made worse.”
And how about speaking to the ones who did keep their baby?
Jennifer Christie is a well-known public speaker and a voracious supporter of choosing life after rape. Why? Because she went through it herself!
When she came to Malta in December 2018, Jennifer recounted how a horrific attack left her almost dead one snowy day in 2014. She had been brutally raped and critically injured. The weeks that followed were darker than night for her and her husband Jeff, and she had to go through numerous surgeries to treat her severe injuries.
What she wasn’t prepared for was the fact that, weeks later, she would discover she was pregnant. The couple already had four children, and Jeff had had a vasectomy years earlier. So, she knew right away that the baby could only have been conceived from the rape. But, instead of sinking further into despair, Jennifer found herself smiling—for the first time in what seemed like forever!
“My precious son was conceived during the darkest day of my life. It was the day that changed who I was forever—as a human being, as a woman, and as a wife.” ~ Jennifer Christie
Jennifer recounts how the first shaft of light that pierced the darkness that had taken over her life was when she saw her baby for the first time—as a “a little pea” on an ultrasound. She claims:
‘’And I knew what I was supposed to feel. I was a woman who had been raped and now I was pregnant and I knew I was ‘supposed’ to feel horrified. Enraged. Disgusted, maybe. But I looked at that ultrasound…and for the first time since the attack, I smiled ~ Jennifer Christie
Jennifer’s son—for he is her baby, and not the rapist’s—is part of a family who took him in as their own and love him wholeheartedly. The little boy did not deserve the death penalty for a crime committed by someone else, at a time when he had not even come into existence. His mother saw his value and gave him the life he deserved just as much as the rest of the human race.
“During a nightmare I couldn’t awake from, a child was conceived. This child had nothing to do with the attack on my body or the scars on my soul. He had everything to do with my healing—giving me a reason to hope. I did not save my son. He saved me.” ~ Jennifer
Many other women like Jennifer also felt “saved from a lifetime of grief”, “hope after seeing that little being”, that they could “actually be happy again”, that they would be ok. This is solid proof that keeping her baby is probably the best decision a woman can ever make—even after rape.
And yes, even young girls often decide that abortion is not the answer, rape trauma notwithstanding.
It is indeed a terrible situation when a young teen is a victim of abuse and rape and, to top it all, finds herself pregnant. Many of these girls would still be at school, and they—and more often, their parents—may think a pregnancy will ruin their chances at getting an education.
When she was only 13, Ashley, from Elwood, Indiana, was raped by her brother’s 17-year-old friend. Soon after, she discovered she was pregnant. In spite of public shaming and harassment in her hometown, as well as alienation from her friends, Ashley bravely decided to keep the baby.
She eventually gave birth to a beautiful little boy named Aiden. She then returned to school to continue her studies, excelling as a straight A student while raising her young son who, she claims, “impacted my life more than anyone could ever imagine, at a time when I was falling apart.”
Countless other teen girls have followed in Ashley’s footsteps.
These girls kept their babies against all the odds. It is definitely not an easy situation, but the baby is also an innocent victim. And if it is a result of incest or recurring abuse, then terminating its life only serves to remove the evidence of the violation. After the abortion, the girl is returned to her previous situation, and the abuse continues intermittently.
It is often claimed that carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth may wreak havoc on a still developing body. However, in these cases, the pregnancy is rarely discovered in its early stages. Carrying out a late-term abortion on a young girl’s body would be far more dangerous for her than having a C-section to deliver the baby safely.
Ultimately, ending an innocent life does not remove the evil of abuse and rape.
Two wrongs never make a right. Both the woman and the child are victims. Removing one from the equation will not eradicate the evil, but will only serve to add to it. The only one who deserves any form of shame and punishment is the rapist.
In these cases, what the woman or girl needs is more love and less violence; more support and less shame; more truth and less deceit. And if you were wondering whether the baby would be a reminder of the rape, Jennifer sums it all up beautifully when she says:
“Is he a reminder? He is. He’s a reminder that, as women, we can be stronger than our circumstances. He’s a reminder that beauty can come from darkness. And he’s a reminder that how we began does not determine how we end.”
Sources and links:
- Sandra Kathleen Mahkorn “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion David Mall and Walter Watts (Washington DC: University publications of America, 1979) 65 – 69
- David C Reardon, Julie Makimaa, and Amy Sobie Victims and Victors: Speaking out about Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault (Springfield, Illinois: Acorn Books, 2000) 38
- David C Reardon Aborted Women: Silent No More (Chicago, Illinois: Loyola University Press, 1987) 206
- Jeff & Jennifer Christie – Prolife for Every Life https://www.facebook.com/jenniferchristieprolife