"The issue of human life and its preservation and development is one that begins with conception and ends only when God calls a person back to himself in death. If we are consistent, then, we must be concerned about life from beginning to end. It is like a seamless garment; either it all holds together or eventually it all falls apart." Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, 1975

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What About Abortion in Cases of Rape and Incest? Women and Sexual Assault

by Amy Sobie
April 5, 2010 LifeNews.com
Note: Amy Sobie is the editor of The Post-Abortion Review, a quarterly publication of the Elliot Institute. The organization is a widely respected leader in research and analysis of medical, mental health and other complications resulting from abortions.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many people, including those whose mission is to help women and girls who are victims of sexual assault and abuse, believe abortion is the best solution if a pregnancy occurs.

Yet our research shows that most women who become pregnant through sexual assault don’t want abortion, and say abortion only compounds their trauma.

“How can you deny an abortion to a twelve-year-old girl who is the victim of incest?”

Typically, people on both sides of the abortion debate accept the premise that most women who become pregnant through sexual assault want abortions. From this “fact,” it naturally follows that the reason women want abortions in these cases is because it will help them to put the assault behind them, recover more quickly, and avoid the additional trauma of giving birth to a “rapist’s child.”

But in fact, the welfare of a mother and her child are never at odds, even in sexual assault cases. As the stories of many women confirm, both the mother and the child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence.

Sadly, however, the testimonies of women who have actually been pregnant through sexual assault are routinely left out of this public debate. Many people, including sexual assault victims who have never been pregnant, may be forming opinions based on their own prejudices and fears rather than the real life experiences of those people who have been in this difficult situation and reality.

For example, it is commonly assumed that rape victims who become pregnant would naturally want abortions. But in the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done prior to this book, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent did not have abortions. This figure is remarkably similar to the 73 percent birth rate found in our sample of 164 pregnant rape victims. This one finding alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims.1 Several reasons were given for not aborting. Many women who become pregnant through sexual assault do not believe in abortion, believing it would be a further act of violence perpetrated against their bodies and their children. Further, many believe that their children’s lives may have some intrinsic meaning or purpose which they do not yet understand. This child was brought into their lives by a horrible, repulsive act. But perhaps God, or fate, will use the child for some greater purpose. Good can come from evil.

The woman may also sense, at least at a subconscious level, that if she can get through the pregnancy she will have conquered the rape. By giving birth, she can reclaim some of her lost self-esteem. Giving birth, especially when conception was not desired, is a totally selfless act, a generous act, a display of courage, strength, and honor. It is proof that she is better than the rapist. While he was selfish, she can be generous. While he destroyed, she can nurture.

Adding to the Trauma

Many people assume that abortion will at least help a rape victim put the assault behind her and get on with her life. But evidence shows that abortion is not some magical surgery which turns back the clock to make a woman “un-pregnant.”

Instead, it is a real life event which is always very stressful and often traumatic. Once we accept that abortion is itself an event with deep ramifications for a woman’s life, then we must look carefully at the special circumstances of the pregnant sexual assault victim. Evidence indicates that abortion doesn’t help and only causes further injury to an already bruised psyche?

But before we even get to this issue, we must ask: do most women who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault want to abort?

In our survey of women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest, many women who underwent abortions indicated that they felt pressured or were strongly directed by family members or health care workers to have abortions. The abortion came about not because of the woman’s desire to abort but as a response to the suggestions or demands of others. In many cases, resources such as health workers, counselors and others who are normally there to help women after sexual assault pushed for abortion.

Family pressure, withholding of support and resources that the woman needed to continue the pregnancy, manipulative an inadequate counseling and other problems all played a role into pushing women into abortions, even though abortion was often not what the woman really wanted.

Further, in almost every case involving incest, it was the girl’s parents or the perpetrator who made the decision and arrangements for the abortion, not the girl herself. None of these women reported having any input into the decision. Each was simply expected to comply with the choice of others. In several cases, the abortion was carried out over the objections of the girl, who clearly told others that wanted to continue the pregnancy. In a few cases, victim was not even clearly aware that she was pregnant or that the abortion was being carried out.

"Medical Rape"

Second, although many people believe that abortion will help a woman resolve the trauma of rape more quickly, or at least keep her from being reminded of the rape throughout her pregnancy, many of the women in our survey who had abortions reported that abortion only added to and accentuated the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault.

This is easy to understand when one considers that many women have described their abortions as being similar to a rape (and even used the term "medical rape), it is easy to see that abortion is likely to add a second trauma to the earlier trauma of sexual assault. Abortion involves an often painful intrusion into a woman’s sexual organs by a masked stranger who is invading her body. Once she is on the operating table, she loses control over her body. Even if she protests and asks the abortionist to stop, chances are she will be either ignored or told that it’s too late to stop the abortion.

For many women this experiential association between abortion and sexual assault is very strong. It is especially strong for women who have a prior history of sexual assault, whether or not the aborted child was conceived during an act of assault. This is just one reason why women with a history of sexual assault are likely to experience greater distress during and after an abortion than are other women.

Research also shows that women who abort and women who are raped often describe similar feelings of depression, guilt, lowered self-esteem, violation and resentment of men. Rather than easing the psychological burdens experienced by those who have been raped, abortion added to them. Jackie wrote: I soon discovered that the aftermath of my abortion continued a long time after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible. Nobody told me about the pain I would feel deep within causing nightmares and deep depressions. They had all told me that after the abortion I could continue my life as if nothing had happened.2

Those encouraging, pushing or insisting on abortion often do so because they are uncomfortable dealing with sexual assault victims, or perhaps because they harbor some prejudice against victims whom they feel “let it happen.” Wiping out the pregnancy is a way of hiding the problem. It is a “quick and easy” way to avoid dealing with the woman’s true emotional, social and financial needs. As Kathleen wrote: 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 by pro-abortionists to further the abortion issue, even though we’ve not been asked to tell our side of the story.

Trapping the Incest Victim

The case against abortion for incest pregnancies is even stronger. Studies show that incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to abortion. Instead of viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity. She is also likely to see in her pregnancy the hope of bearing a child with whom she can establish a truly loving relationship, one far different than the exploitive relationship in which she has been trapped.

But while the girl may see her pregnancy as a possible way of release from her situation, it poses a threat to her abuser. It is also poses a threat to the pathological secrecy which may envelop other members of the family who are afraid to acknowledge the abuse. Because of this dual threat, the victim may be coerced or forced into an unwanted abortion by both the abuser and other family members.

For example, Edith, a 12-year-old victim of incest impregnated by her stepfather, writes twenty-five years after the abortion of her child: 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.’ . . . My daughter, how I miss her so. I miss her regardless of the reason for her conception."

Abortion businesses who routinely ignore this evidence and neglect to interview minors presented for abortion for signs of coercion or incest are actually contributing to the victimization of young girls. Not only are they robbing the victim of her child, they are concealing a crime, abetting a perpetrator, and handing the victim back to her abuser so that the exploitation can continue.

For example, the parents of three teenaged Baltimore girls pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree rape and child sexual abuse. The father had repeatedly raped the three girls over a period of at least nine years, and the rapes were covered up by at least ten abortions. At least five of the abortions were performed by the same abortionist at the same clinic.3

Sadly, there is strong evidence that failing to ask questions about the pregnancy and to report cases of sexual abuse are widespread at abortion clinics. Undercover investigations by pro-life groups have found numerous cases in which clinics agreed to cover up cases of statutory rape or ongoing abuse of minor girls by older men and simply perform an abortion instead.

In 2002 a judge found a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arizona negligent for failing to report a case in which a 13-year-old girl was impregnated and taken for an abortion by her 23-year-old foster brother. The abortion business did not notify authorities until the girl returned six months later for a second abortion. A lawsuit alleged that the girl was subjected to repeated abuse and a second abortion because Planned Parenthood failed to notify authorities when she had her first abortion. The girl’s foster brother was later imprisoned for abusing her.4

Finally, we must recognize that children conceived through sexual assault also deserve to have their voices heard. Rebecca Wasser-Kiessling, who was conceived in a rape, is rightfully proud of her mother’s courage and generosity and wisely reminds us of a fundamental truth that transcends biological paternity: “I believe that God rewarded my birth mother for the suffering she endured, and that I am a gift to her. The serial rapist is not my creator; God is.”

Similarly, Julie Makimaa, who works diligently against the perception that abortion is acceptable or even necessary in cases of sexual assault, proclaims, “It doesn’t matter how I began. What matters is who I will become.” That’s a slogan we can all live with.

Citations
1. Mahkorn, "Pregnancy and Sexual Assault," The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall & Watts, (Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 55-69.
2. David C. Reardon, Aborted Women, Silent No More (Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 1987), 206.
3. Jean Marbella, "Satisfactory explanations of sex crime proved elusive," Baltimore Sun, Oct. 31, 1990; M. Dion Thompson, "GBMC, doctor suspected nothing amiss," Baltimore Sun, Oct. 31. 1990; "Family Horror Comes to Light in Story of Girls Raped by Father," Baltimore Sun, November 4, 1990; Raymond L. Sanchez, "Mother Sentenced in Rape Case," Baltimore Sun, Dec. 6, 1990.
4. "Planned Parenthood Found Negligent in Reporting Molested Teen’s Abortion," Pro-Life Infonet, attributed to Associated Press; Dec. 26, 2002.

Culture of Life

ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL FRANCIS TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN ORGANIZED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF ASSOCIATIONS OF CATHOLIC DOCTORS
Clementine Hall Friday , September 20, 2013

 I apologize for the delay, because today ... this is a morning too complicated for audiences ... I apologize. 1. The first point that I would like to share with you is this: we are witnessing today in a paradoxical situation , dealing with the medical profession. On the one hand we see - and thank God - the progress of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who, with passion and with no savings, are dedicated to finding new cures. On the other hand, however, we find also the danger that the doctor might lose its identity as a servant of life. The cultural disorientation has also affected what looked like an unassailable area: your, medicine! Although by their nature at the service of life, the health professions are sometimes induced to disregard life itself. Instead, as we remember the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate , "openness to life is at the center of true development." There is no true development without this openness to life. "If you lose the personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help "(n. 28). The paradoxical situation is seen in the fact that while you give the person new rights, sometimes even alleged rights, does not always protect the life as a primary value and basic right of every man. The final objective of doctor is always the defense and promotion of life. 2. The second point: in this context, be heard, the Church appeals to the conscience, the conscience of all health care professionals and volunteers, in a particular way you Gynecologists, called to collaborate in the creation of new human lives. Yours is a unique vocation and mission, which requires study, conscience and humanity. At one time, the women who helped in childbirth called "comadre" is like a mother to the other, with the real mother. You too are "comadri" and "compadri", too. A widespread mentality of profits, the "culture of waste", which now enslaves the hearts and minds of many, has a very high cost: it requires to eliminate human beings, especially if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to this mentality is a "yes" and decided without hesitation to life. "The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some of them are more precious, but is the fundamental good condition for all others "(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , Declaration on Procured Abortion , November 18, 1974, 11). Things have a price and are sold, but people have a dignity, worth more than things and do not have money. Many times, we find ourselves in situations where we see what it costs less is life. For this attention to human life in its totality has become in recent years a real priority of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly to the most defenseless, that is, the disabled, the sick, the unborn child, the child, the elderly, which is the most defenseless life. In the human fragile each of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh has experienced the indifference and loneliness that often condemn the poorest, both in countries in the developing world, both in affluent societies . Every child is not born, but unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, the Lord's face, that before he was born, and then newborn has experienced rejection in the world. And every senior, and - I talked about the child: let's go to the elderly, another point! And every elderly, sick, or even if at the end of his days, carries the face of Christ. You can not discard, as we proposed the "culture of waste"! You can not discard! 3. The third aspect is a mandate: be witnesses and speakers of this "culture of life" . Your being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, for the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of her conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the current, paying in person. The Lord counts on you to spread the "Gospel of life." In this perspective the gynecology hospital departments are privileged places of witness and evangelization, because wherever the Church is "the vehicle of the presence of God" living at the same time becomes an "instrument of the true humanization of man and the world" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization , 9). Growing awareness that the focus of medical care is the human person in a position of weakness, the health facility becomes' the place where the care relationship is not job - your job is not caring relationship - but mission , where the charity of the Good Samaritan is the first chair and the face of the sufferer, the Face of Christ "(Benedict XVI, Address at the University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome , May 3, 2012). Dear Friends doctors, who are called to take care of human life in its initial phase, remind everyone, with facts and words, this is always, in all its phases and at any age, sacred and is always quality. And not for a discussion of faith - no, no - but with reason, for a discourse of science! There is no human life more sacred than another, as there is a human life qualitatively more significant than another. The credibility of a health care system is measured not only for efficiency, but also for the attention and love towards people, whose life is always sacred and inviolable. Do not ever neglect to pray to the Lord and the Virgin Mary for having the strength to do your job well and bear witness with courage - courage! Today it takes courage - courage witness with the "Gospel of life"! Thanks a lot. -
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