Originally published June 14, 2012
Carolyn asks, “How do we persuade a person that it is better to have the baby conceived through rape/incest? I know so many people that are against abortion, except for rape/incest cases. Especially since some rapists have gotten parental rights to the child if born?”
Serrin asked FFL speaker Joyce McCauley-Benner, a rape survivor who later learned she was pregnant, to respond: This is always one of the hardest questions to answer when discussing abortion alternatives. The first question I always ask is “Why do you think abortion is the answer to pregnancy conceived from rape?” Most people believe that it will be too much of a reminder to the mother about the rape if she has the child. Some don’t want to see the mother “burdened” by having to parent a child she was not prepared for.
First, to clarify: Carrying a pregnancy to term does not mean a birthmother has to parent. Adoption is a viable option. There are many, many, children conceived by rape who have gone on to live healthy and happy lives.
Secondly, often when we are discussing pregnancy from rape, we put focus on whom the baby’s father is. But who is her mother? In cases of rape, does only the paternity matter? Women are strong, resourceful, and capable of healing from rape. To suggest that having a child conceived from rape is “too hard on the mother”, says a lot about what our society thinks about women. We are more powerful than we have ever been told! This is the message that women need and deserve to hear.
It is also important to note that going through an abortion procedure can be very triggering/re-traumatizing for a woman who has been raped. Terminating the pregnancy does not take away the pain of rape, nor will it take away the reminder. Support and a healing process can do that.
Finally, it is not enough to simply discuss this topic on an individual level. When we say that women deserve better®, we mean that we have to address all the societal and underlying issues as well. That means fighting violence against women, assuring that there are resources and support in place, examining the justice of our policies, and challenging men (and all of society) to stop rape.
When I joined Feminists for Life as a speaker who shares my experience of not knowing if I was pregnant by rape, but carried to term (and parented) anyway, I truly learned the power of healing and the power of a life-affirming choice. My answers come from my own experience and my desire to share my healing with others! Thank you FFL for this opportunity!
Because women deserve better,
Serrin M. Foster
P.S. Two pro-woman, pro-life questions for you: