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Victims of rape and incest struggle to be heard, say studies show abortion is not the answer

.- A group of women who know first hand the suffering caused by rape and incest have come together in an attempt to have their voices heard.  The women have formed the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Pregnant by Sexual Assault (WPSA) and are taking their message to legislators in Washington and around the country, asking for public hearings at which victims can be heard, according to LifeSite.

In a petition to the U.S. Congress and state legislators the WPSA said, “In virtually every case, those people who claim to represent our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us or to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns.  We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others.”

According to a LifeSite article published today, the group is particularly concerned about the widespread misconception, even among people who generally oppose abortion, that sexual assault victims generally want or benefit from abortions.

On the contrary, the WPSA points out, abortion does nothing to help women pregnant through sexual assault, and in many cases is detrimental to them.

"In many cases, we felt pressured to abort by family members, social workers, and doctors who insisted that abortion was the 'best' solution," they wrote. "For many the abortion caused physical and emotional trauma equal to or exceeding the trauma of the sexual assault that our abortions were supposed to 'cure.'"

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans do think abortion is helpful to victims of sexual assault.  A recent survey done of South Dakota citizens found that a proposed referendum which would ban all abortions gained overwhelming support when it contained a clause allowing for abortion in the case of rape and incest.  However, when the clause was removed, only 39 percent of those polled still supported the abortion ban, with 47 percent in opposition.

The WPSA says, however, that the only two published studies tracking the choices and experiences of rape and incest victims show that the public opinion has been formed without taking into account the facts.

Both studies cited found that approximately 70 percent of pregnant rape victims chose to give birth rather than have abortions, even though the option was made available.

Dr. David Reardon, Director of the Elliot Institute and co-author of the book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, told LifeSite that according to his organization’s study, many women who support abortion prior to their rape, “change their minds (after their assault) because they have a heightened concern about abuse and trauma. They want to break the cycle of violence. Many also sense that an abortion will only add to their emotional suffering.”

Furthermore, in the Elliot Institute's survey of 192 women who became pregnant through rape or incest, nearly 80 percent of the woman who had abortions said that they strongly regretted the abortion, with most saying it had caused far more harm than good in their lives. Among women who gave birth to their children, the consensus against abortion was even stronger.

Of the women who reported having abortions, most reported feeling pressured by family members or health care workers to undergo abortions, Reardon noted.

"This was especially the case for those who became pregnant through incest," Reardon said. "in almost every case, the abortion was chosen by the girl's parents or tragically, by the perpetrator himself. In some cases the abortion was used to cover up the incest and the girl was returned to the same abusive situation to be victimized again."

"The women in our survey said repeatedly that what they needed was time and support to come to terms with the assault and the resulting pregnancy," Reardon said. "While none proposed that there are any easy solutions, well over 80 percent believed that abortion clearly made their problems worse."

For Kathleen DeZeeuw, who raised her son after becoming pregnant through rape at the age of 16, the solution begins with attentive listening. She says abortion advocates have used the issue of sexual assault pregnancy to push for abortion without considering the real needs of the women involved.

"I feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest," she wrote in Victims and Victors. "I feel we're being used to further the abortion issue, even though we've never been asked to tell our side of the story."

"Women who have gone through the trauma of rape or incest need to be counseled, cared for, and listened to," she added. "A woman is most vulnerable at a time such as this and doesn't need to be pounced on by yet another act of violence. She needs someone to truly listen to her, care for her, and give her time to heal."


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