Sunday, August 02, 2015
Rape and Abortion
Tragedy Compounded
In light of the controversy surrounding Todd Akin's comments last week, I feel compelled to share my story. Earlier this year I was raped. I don't know whether Todd Akin would consider it "legitimate rape" or if Whoopi Goldberg would define it as "rape, rape," but I know what it was and it wasn't okay. I'm not writing to share the details of the attack but rather to share what kept me from killing myself afterwards. I ovulated only hours before I was raped. I know this because I sometimes have pain and spotting when I ovulate. After the attack I was filled with terror: What on earth would I do if I were pregnant?
For a day I ignored the potential. I had scheduled a happy hour with some friends, and in an effort to appear normal I went. I ordered a beer while I waited. I sipped my beer, feeling like all the other patrons were looking at my black eye even though I'd done my best to cover it with make-up. When my friends arrived they asked what had happened to my face and I glossed over what had happened. My friend looked me in the eye and said, "Should you be drinking that, and whose ass do I need to kick?" I didn't finish my beer.

That night I called my doctor, told him what had happened, and asked if the sleeping pills I'd been taking for the last ten years would hurt a "fetus." My doctor told me they would so I immediately stopped taking them. The withdrawal was terrible and lasted about a week, and I spent those long sleepless nights terrified of a potential pregnancy. During those nights I decided that I would lie to everyone about the due date and pretend I had no idea who the father was to protect both myself and the potential child from my rapist. I hadn't decided if I would raise the child or give the child up, but abortion was never a consideration. Financially, a child would be disastrous; socially, a child would have been equally disastrous.

I started reading about pregnancy. I couldn't bring myself to buy prenatal vitamins because that would make things too real, but I started buying only organic foods and making everything from scratch. I ate lentil soup for lunch because of the high levels of folic acid. I started drinking orange juice. I actually ate cage-free organic eggs for breakfast because they are high in Omega-3s and I had to protect that child . . . if there was one.

Two weeks later I got my period. I was ecstatic . . . but at the same time I was absolutely miserable. That potential pregnancy had kept me from falling apart. It gave me a purpose: I had to protect my child. It was only after I found out I wasn't pregnant that I really fell apart, and there were several nights where my fear of hell was the only thing that kept me from throwing myself off a bridge.

I'm much better now, but when politicians try to score political points by taking advantage of our instinctive antipathy toward the idea of bearing a "rapist's child" I get angry. A pregnancy would have been disastrous for me, but it was only by opening myself to love that I was able to keep it together; it wouldn't have been the rapist's child, it would have been mine. Rape is a horrible crime; an abortion won't make it better -- it merely compounds the tragedy.

Marguerite McGinniss is a nom de plume. She lives and works in Washington, D.C.

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