by Steven Ertelt
September 7, 2006
Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — An organization for women who become pregnant after becoming victims of sexual assault says that raped women don’t always want abortions and challenged abortion advocates for making it appear that way. The group says that abortion creates more problems for women pregnant by rape than it solves.
The members of the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Pregnant by Sexual Assault (WPSA) want to insert their voice into the abortion debate.
In an attempt to do so, they have written a petition to Congress and state legislatures asking for hearings on their experiences. They want women who’ve become pregnant through sexual assault to be allowed to share their stories and address the real concerns that they have faced.
"In virtually every case, those people who claim to represent our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us or to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns," the group writes in its petition.
"We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others," the group added.
Kathleen DeZeeuw, who gave birth to a boy after she was raped at the age of 16, says abortion advocates have used the issue of sexual assault pregnancy to push for abortion without considering the real needs of the women involved.
"I feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest," she said.
"I feel we’re being used to further the abortion issue, even though we’ve never been asked to tell our side of the story," DeZeeuw added.
"Women who have gone through the trauma of rape or incest need to be counseled, cared for, and listened to," she explained. "A woman is most vulnerable at a time such as this and doesn’t need to be pounced on by yet another act of violence. She needs someone to truly listen to her, care for her, and give her time to heal."
The group’s efforts come at a time when abortions in cases of rape and incest are the subject of debate.
As states like Louisiana, South Dakota and Mississippi grappled with abortion bans in their state legislatures, debates raged about whether those exceptions should be added to the prohibitions on abortion.
A poll in South Dakota found that while the state is split on the abortion ban there, which does not have the exceptions, South Dakota voters would overwhelmingly support it if those exceptions were added.
But the group, in a statement sent to LifeNews.com, says that abortion does not help women who are victimized by rape or incest.
"In many cases, we felt pressured to abort by family members, social workers, and doctors who insisted that abortion was the ‘best’ solution," the group says.
"For many the abortion caused physical and emotional trauma equal to or exceeding the trauma of the sexual assault that our abortions were supposed to ‘cure,’" the group added.
Dr. David Reardon, the director of the Elliot Institute, which studies the effect of abortion on women, has written a book called Victims and Victors about such women.
He said the results of the South Dakota poll results reflect voters’ desire to spare women the hardships often associated with giving birth to a child conceived in sexual assault. But he explained that the perception doesn’t match reality.
"Typically, most people have accepted the premise that sexual assault victims not only want abortions but will actually benefit from them," Reardon said.
"They assume abortion will help victims put the assault behind them, recover more quickly, and avoid the problems that might arise with giving birth to the child–who is often described as the ‘rapist’s child’ rather than the woman’s child," he added.
Reardon pointed to two studies and said they were the only ones published about what women who are victims of sexual abuse really want.
Tracking the choices and experiences of women who have become pregnant after rape or incest, both studies found that approximately 70 percent of pregnant rape victims chose to give birth rather than have abortions, even though abortion was readily available.
"Prior to becoming pregnant, many of these woman would have said that they would have an abortion if they became pregnant through rape." said Reardon. "But after the rape, many change their minds because they have a heightened concern about abuse and trauma. They want to break the cycle of violence. Many also sense that an abortion will only add to their emotional suffering."
The Elliot Institute also surveyed 192 women who became pregnant through rape or incest. Of those who had abortions, nearly 80 percent said that they strongly regretted the abortion, with most saying it had caused far more harm than good in their lives.
Among women who gave birth to their children, the consensus against abortion was even stronger, the survey showed.
Of the women who reported having abortions, most reported feeling pressured by family members or health care workers to undergo abortions.
"This was especially the case for those who became pregnant through incest," Reardon said because the perpetrator often used abortion to cover up his crimes.
"In almost every case, the abortion was chosen by the girl’s parents or tragically, by the perpetrator himself," Reardon explained. "In some cases the abortion was used to cover up the incest and the girl was returned to the same abusive situation to be victimized again."
But if sexual assault victims aren’t offered abortions, what should be the response from those around them?
"The women in our survey said repeatedly that what they needed was time and support to come to terms with the assault and the resulting pregnancy," Reardon said.
Related web sites:
A copy of the petition can be found in the booklet, "The Hard Cases: New Facts, New Answers," which can be downloaded for free at https://www.unchoice.info/resources.htm.
Elliot Institute – https://www.afterabortion.info