The Rapist's FriendBonnie L.A. Shullenberger
Reprinted from Sisterlife
Probably the best way to get your friends hot under the collar--clerical or otherwise--is to accuse them of ulterior motives in regard to a subject in which they're trying their darnedest to be good, caring, responsible people. So when I was the only woman sitting in a group of fifteen local church leaders, and one of two who were anti-abortion, I did not look around at my colleagues of the testosterone persuasion and say, "What's with you guys? Why do you support this abomination? Tell the truth now--what's in it for you?" In general they are compassionate and hardworking men. I like them, and I really don't believe that any of them have ulterior motives.
But I just don't get it. There are some men who I understand why they are pro-abortion. They're doctors and they make a profit from it; they're lawyers and endless abortion law litigation keeps them in BMWs; they're sleazes who want to be sure the next knock on the door isn't a process server with a paternity suit. I understand that sort. They're looking out for number one. What I don't understand are the responsible men who make a 180-degree turn and resort to the most bizarre and desperate reasoning when the topic of abortion comes up. (One of the weirdest rationales is "economic justice"--that the state should provide the poor with equal access to the vices of the rich: noblesse oblige with a vengeance.)
In my imagination, here is how I respond to them: I bat my eyelashes and say, a little sadly "Oh! I didn't realize you were pro-rape."
Twenty-five years ago, as a pregnant teenager in a home for unwed mothers, I met two women who were having babies conceived in forced intercourse. Laurie celebrated her thirteenth birthday in the home, six months pregnant. She had been sexually used by an uncle and brother for years. She had no idea which of them was the father. It was only after she came to the home that she discovered that male relatives raping little girls was not the way everybody lived. And she was angry. I remember her angrily smoking and tapping her fingers on the table to emphasize her point: "The dirty bastards who did this to me are out there, and nothing's happening to them. I didn't do anything wrong, and I got sent away."
Kate was older, nineteen or twenty. She wasn't angry, but depressed. Her family wouldn't let her push for investigation of who attacked her in a parking lot one night after work: they bundled her off to the home and never visited her. She rarely talked, and she always looked miserable. She thought for a long time that she would keep the baby. I left before she delivered, so I don't know whether she did. In Kate's and Laurie's cases, the men got off scot free. Meanwhile, most of our boyfriends quit school to work to pay for our confinements.
The legalization of abortion only slightly altered this pattern. Every time I hear someone solemnly defending legal abortion in cases of rape and incest, I think about another rapist getting off scot free. The knowledge that there's an abortuary handy must give much comfort to many a pervert stalking a parking lot or slithering down the hall to his stepdaughter's bedroom. Abortion debates inevitably point to the woman pregnant by rape, and I agree that her situation is tragic. But abortion as a "solution" means that the woman's body is going to be invaded violently again; her child--hers unwillingly, but still hers--torn to pieces; and the rapist, as likely as not, unprosecuted.
The message that goes out to men every time the "rape and incest" argument is made is this: Pillage if you wish, don't be too messy, and we'll get rid of the evidence. And for every decent man who's eager to defend the "rights" of women, there's another out there who's heard the hidden message. As he tucks his rape kit-- duct tape, cord, a knife--into his pockets, some part of him sings its sick response to the siren song of Roe, the rapist's friend.