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.
Unsafe Habor: I argue over at the Weekly Standard that we should all be a little freaked that the IRS, currently infamous for its inability to not discriminate, will soon be in charge of enforcing the unconstitutional HHS mandate against nuns and soup kitchens. ()
- June 7, 2013
Siblings: It's very strange, let me tell you, to watch a child growing up--to see him go from diapers to (thinking about) dating, from spitting out his cauliflower to choosing his college. You know what's even stranger? When it's not your child. When it's your niece or nephew, your cousin, or your own sibling. ()
Photo Credits: Relationships and Sexuality: Raul Cabrera; Society and Politics: Andrea Williams; Bioethics: Bertha Crowley; Church and Community: Antoine Mghayar; Wellness and Beauty: Meghan; Arts and Culture: John Singer Sargent