Victims and Victors
Book Tells Women’s Stories of Sexual Assault Pregnancy
“Having lived through rape, and having raised a child ‘conceived in rape,’ I feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal for rape and incest. I feel that we’re being used to further the abortion issue, even though we’ve not been asked to tell our side of the story.”
These words from rape survivor Kathleen DeZeeuw form the introduction to a compelling new book that looks at the issue of rape and incest pregnancies and abortion from the viewpoint of those whose voices are often unheard in this debate: the women themselves.
Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, brings together the experiences of nearly 200 such women. Published by Acorn Books and edited by David C. Reardon, Julie Makimaa and Amy Sobie, it includes survey results from a study of 192 women who became pregnant through sexual assault and either had abortions or carried their pregnancies to term, insightful personal testimonies, and informative overview chapters.
“What we found from the survey is that, contrary to what most people think, women who become pregnant through rape or incest don’t usually want abortions,” Reardon said. “Most women who aborted did so only because they felt it was their only choice, and more than 80 percent said it was a choice they deeply regretted. Many felt that abortion only compounded their emotional trauma and allowed others to ignore their need for compassion and support.”
In contrast, Reardon said, most of the women who carried to term reported that they believed they had made the right decision in having their children.
“For many women, knowing that something good had come from their experience helped them heal from the assault,” he said. “What is especially striking is that even though some women were still struggling with the pain of the assault, none of the respondents expressed regret over having given birth or a wish that they had chosen abortion instead. Instead, many saw their children as instruments of healing and grace in their lives.”
Reardon said that the editors tried to shed some light on the experiences of women who have experienced sexual assault pregnancies and give them a voice in a debate from which they have often been excluded. The book also calls on legislators to hold hearings to allow women to share their stories of sexual assault pregnancy and abortion with lawmakers.
“Abortion advocates tell us that women pregnant from sexual assault need access to abortion,” Reardon said. “But government lawmakers are debating this issue without any input from the women who have actually experienced a rape or incest pregnancy. Not only does this book allow the general public to hear their stories, but we hope it will also give legislators the chance to hear them as well.”
Victims and Victors is available for $11.95 plus $3 s/h from Acorn Books, PO Box 7348-V, Springfield, IL 62791-7348. To place a credit card order or for information on quantity discounts, call Acorn Books at (217) 525-8202.