But what about cases of rape or incest? It’s the ultimate comeback when anyone who supports legal abortions debates the issue with someone who is pro-life. Why sometimes such arguments or debates seems as if they’re taking place in a vacuum with what if figures with no name or face, these situations do exist. And the faces and names of the people who survived abortion are very real.
Like Jora Trang and her daughter Meggy.
Jora is now a 33-year-old civil rights attorney from San Francisco. But 22 years ago, something horrible happened to her. As she writes:
I had been in the bathroom at school one morning when a stranger raped me. I was 11 years old. The truth is, I don’t remember much of the attack. I know I didn’t like what was happening and didn’t understand it, but I also had no idea how to make whatever was going on stop. I didn’t scream or cry; I just kept my eyes closed tight. I stayed in the bathroom for the rest of the day, feeling dirty, used, and very, very confused. And after that day, I pushed what had happened away. I told no one. My family was not much for talking, and anyway, I didn’t have the words for it. It was years before I would understand that I’d been raped.
At the time, I had no idea that I could become pregnant from what had happened. I didn’t even know what being pregnant was! In the months that followed, my breasts got really big and my hips got wider, but I thought I was just developing the way my friends were. Then, about five months later, I felt something move inside my stomach.
The rape was horrific enough. Then, Jora had to describe to her parents what had happened — adding to the guilt and shame she already felt form the rape itself. As she recalls:
Frightened, I told my parents, who then took me to see a doctor. But he just asked me a bunch of angry questions about whether I had boyfriends, and I left feeling extremely bewildered.
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I grew bigger and bigger, and eventually, I stopped going to school. I did miss it, but I understood that my pregnancy had to be kept a secret. My parents hid me in the house, and told my younger brother and sister that we were adopting a baby, so they just thought I was getting fat. I knew my child would be raised as my mother’s.
There is never a compelling reason to have an abortion, but if there could be one, this one would be understandable. Still, Jora pressed forward with giving birth and keeping her baby.
Despite all that, my pregnancy was a beautiful experience. As my belly swelled, I had a feeling of self-awe. I felt really beautiful, because something amazing was going on inside my body. My daughter kicked a lot. I read to her in my tummy and played her classical music because I’d heard somewhere that it could make her smart.
Then one day, my mother took me to the hospital for what I thought was a normal doctor’s visit and I had the baby. My water had broken the night before, but I didn’t know I was in labor; I don ‘t remember being in pain at all. My baby was so cute and perfect. I instinctively counted her fingers and her toes and immediately formed an attachment to her.
Jora’s story is moving and heartbreaking — how does she attend school? How does she help her daughter attend school? How does she eventually break the news to Meggy about what really happened?
The story is compelling but, in the end, Jora makes it clear that, if she had it to do all over again, she would do the same thing, choose life.
Now that Meggy is in college on the East Coast and I am employed as a lawyer on the West Coast, I do everything I wanted to do as a teen. I take eight dance classes a week and go out dancing all weekend. And I sit and think a lot, which is something I didn‘t get to do.
I’ve also learned how much I miss my daughter by living apart from her and how much I’ve enjoyed every year of her life. Meggy is a miracle that came out of a really rough situation. This is what I tell my daughter. I don‘t see regret or trauma or a hard life when I look at Meggy. I only see love.
And what is Meggy’s take? As she writes in her own response, she loves her mother dearly and considers her the strongest woman she knows.
Through love and hard work, together we‘ve been able to turn something ugly into something wonderful. We have a true partnership, as opposed to a one-sided relationship in which one person takes care of the other. And that has helped both of us. My mother is the strongest person I know. I don’t know where she draws her strength from. But I draw mine from her.
There is a bond between and mother and child that abortion breaks. Abortion — even in rape — ends the life of a unique human being like Meggy and would leave lasting emotional scars on someone like Jora — whose daughter allowed her to experience the kind of love and joy in life that the rape threatened to take away.