Petition Signers Say Using Their Situation to Promote Abortion
Stops Women from Getting Authentic Help
Abortion and sexual assault pregnancy is a difficult issue for many people, especially since no one wants to hurt those who have already been traumatized. For many, abortion seems like a compassionate answer for women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
But a group of women who experienced pregnancies resulting from sexual assault say that policymakers need to listen to those who’ve been there, instead of using this issue to promote abortion.
Nearly 40 women have signed a petition asking congress and state legislators to hold hearings and give women a chance to tell their stories, discuss the impact of abortion and share their unique needs and concerns. They note that discussions by “legislators, judges and policy makers” on this issue “take place without ever first soliciting our input,” and that abortion promotion stops women from receiving help and support.
These views are expressed in their petition, which reads in part:
We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others. This is a grave injustice. In pursuing their political agendas, these exploiters have reduced our concerns, needs and circumstances to a crude caricature. …
Only we who have actually experienced a sexual assault pregnancy truly understand the trauma, fears, concerns and needs of our sisters who are, or will someday become, pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Each year, thousands of women will face this experience. Unless society at large begins to listen to us today, these other women will, like us, face great difficulty in finding authentic understanding and help.
Abortion Not a Good Solution, Women Say
The petition signers include women who had abortions as well as women who continued their pregnancies and either raised their children or placed them for adoption.
Some of the signers shared their story in the Elliot Institute’s book Victims and Victors, which was based on the stories of nearly 200 women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Most of the women who shared their stories for the book said that abortion was not a helpful solution and that it only added to the trauma they had experienced.
And many said that their abortions were the result of pressure from those around them, or because they lacked support. In cases where incest or ongoing sexual abuse was involved, the decision to abort was often made by the perpetrator in order to cover up the abuse.
One woman, Edith, was impregnated by her stepfather at the age of 12. Her mother, who knew of the abuse, took her for an abortion that resulted in the delivery of a stillborn baby girl. Years later, Edith 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.
Another woman, Kathleen DeZeeuw, raised her son after experiencing a date rape as a teen, and wrote that she believed abortion advocates have exploited stories like hers:
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 to further the abortion issue, even though we’ve not been asked to tell our side of the story.
A copy of the petition can be downloaded here. Women who have experienced a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest and who wish to sign the petition can do so here. Those who wish their names to be kept private (not for publication) may choose this option on the form.
About the Research
Victims and Victors was based on a survey — one of only a few such studies ever done — of 192 women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Of the respondents, 164 were victims of rape and 28 were victims of incest (sexual assault involving a family member). Overall, 69 percent continued the pregnancy and either raised the child or made an adoption plan, 29 percent had abortions and 1.5 percent had miscarriages.
- Nearly 80 percent of the women who aborted the pregnancy reported that abortion had been the wrong solution.
- Most women who had abortions said that abortion only increased the trauma they were experiencing.
- In many cases, the victim faced strong pressure or demands to abort. 43 percent of rape victims who aborted said they felt pressured or were strongly directed by family members or health workers to abort.
- In almost every case where an incest victim had an abortion, it was the girl’s parents or the perpetrator who made the decision and arrangements for the abortion, not the girl herself. In several cases, the abortion was carried out against her expressed wishes, and in a few cases, without her knowledge that she was pregnant or that an abortion was taking place.
- More than 80 percent of the women who carried their pregnancies to term said that they were happy that they had continued the pregnancy.
- None of the women who gave birth to a child conceived in sexual assault expressed regret or wished they had aborted instead.