Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Banning Abortion With the Exception of Rape Would Be Just A Bandaid for Rape Victims

I know a woman who was date raped in the early 70's in college. Weeks later she found out she was pregnant, so she took a trip hours long to New York City to an auditorium full of women like her, getting abortions performed in almost factory-like assembly lines. She described it as pain, demoralizing, and one of the worst experiences of her life. But her only other options were to carry the rapist's baby to term or to use the dangerous and infamous coat-hanger technique. Back then, abortion was illegal. Would this woman have benefited from having the exection of rape? Probably, but it also would have hurt her.
"Keep your hands off my uterus!"
photo credit: Kate Sumbler, ktpupp,  cc.

With the recent assault on women's reproductive rights, the idea that one's religious beliefs can be imposed on a nation built on the idea of religious freedom, many people are turning to a weaker position and saying, "OK, well, what about rape? Shouldn't a woman be allowed to get an abortion in the case of rape?" These are some of the same people who normally would be completely against the idea of banning abortion. 

Why is this a bad idea for rape victims? Let's look at Poland. Poland is a country where abortion is illegal with three exceptions; health of the mother, a severe deformity of the fetus, or rape. In 2003, I talked to several women who worked in community services to treat rape victims in Poland. There was one universal thing they all said about women who were raped. Rape victims were very frequently told they were making it up in order to get abortion legally. It was just another way to blame rape victims for their ordeals or to say it wasn't real, making the experience much worse for the