Two Women Pregnant from Rape, Two Outcomes
by Sarah Terzo
In 2021, Janet Morana wrote a book for teens on abortion. She tells the story of two women who became pregnant from rape.
A Woman Who Aborted a Pregnancy from Rape
One rape victim was Nicole from Virginia. She had an abortion at four weeks. Nicole says she came to “deeply regret” her abortion:
There is no good reason to have an abortion. All the logical reasons fail to keep your heart from breaking when it’s over.
If, like me, you were raped, and you think you can’t bear nine months of pregnancy, I can tell you from experience the 17 years of regret have been worse.1
Nicole now believes “my baby was a gift from a loving God who wanted to give me a purpose for my pain.”2 Although the rape was extremely traumatic, Nicole says that the abortion was the “beginning of the real nightmare for me.”3 She adds, “The abortion made healing from rape infinitely more difficult by compounding the trauma . . . Abortion is not the answer for rape.”4
A Woman Who Chose Life
Liz was a 17-year-old high school student in Kentucky who was drugged and date raped after a party during her senior year.
Like many women, she didn’t want to talk about the rape with anyone. She just wanted to forget. Liz says, “I would never have told anyone about it, except I got pregnant.”5
Even though Liz had always been pro-life, she was emotionally overwhelmed by her situation and planned to abort. Everything changed when a friend told her, “You know you can’t kill a baby.”6Faced with the stark and terrible truth of what abortion really is, she gave her baby life.
Through Catholic Social Services, Liz arranged an open adoption. In an open adoption, the birth mother may keep in touch with the family that adopts her baby, and, many times, has ongoing contact with them.
She had a boy. Morana says:
People often ask [Liz] if she sees the face of her attacker when she looks at her son, this boy who is being raised in a loving home.
Her answer: ‘I have never seen anything other than that beautiful boy.’7
Pro-abortion activists, as well as many well-meaning people who consider themselves pro-life, often say that the baby will be a constant reminder of the rape. In reality, the rape victim doesn’t need need to be reminded in order to remember. Rape is emotionally devastating. She will never forget it.
In many cases, the baby is not a reminder, but is seen as something good that resulted from a horrible, tragic experience. (See the stories at the end of this article.)
Studies on People Who Became Pregnant from Rape
How Many Rape Pregnancies Are There?
According to a study in the prestigious American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape every year. These are only a small fraction of pregnancies. There were 6,369,000 pregnancies in 2013, the most recent statistics I could find. This would mean that pregnancies through rape comprise half of one percent of pregnancies.
Nevertheless, 32,100 is not an insignificant number. It represents tens of thousands of people. These pregnancies also affect their families, friends, and loved ones.
Since the percentage of people who conceive through rape is extremely small, pro-lifers aren’t lying when they say pregnancy from rape is rare. However, 30,000+ pregnant people are far from insignificant. Each pregnant person has an individual story and is extremely important as a human being. Therefore, I would caution against using the “pregnancies through rape are so rare” argument, as this argument implies that over 32,000 people aren’t important.
According to the study:
A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant, whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion [miscarriage].
So, over a third of pregnant people carry to term and most raise their children.
Only about 6% chose adoption, a number that may be surprising to some people. But it shows that during the pregnancy or at the time of birth, the remaining 94% of women bonded with their babies.
This shows that the common belief that people who become pregnant through rape can’t possibly love their children is wrong.
Do Those Who Abort After Rape Regret Their Abortions?
In an article for Live Action News, I discussed two studies analyzing the emotional impact of abortion after rape.
David Reardon, Amy Sobie, and Julie Makimaa wrote a book called Victims and Victors: Speaking out about Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault. In it, they presented the statistics of their study, as well as first-hand testimonies from women who became pregnant from rape and either aborted or chose life for their babies.
The book is available for $3.99 on Kindle and one can read it with the Kindle app on any smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. In some places, itcan be borrowed for free from libraries. It should be widely read among those who consider themselves pro-life.
This study found that 73% of pregnant rape victims chose life. Of these women, 64% raised their children, and 36% placed their babies for adoption.
The researchers found that 88% of women who aborted felt they made the wrong choice.
Of all the women interviewed, only one expressed positive feelings about her abortion. The others that said they didn’t regret their abortions had mixed feelings. They felt ambivalent, thinking abortion was the right choice for them but acknowledging that it was very painful.
Ninety-three percent of the woman who aborted said they wouldn’t recommend abortion to other pregnant rape survivors. Only 7% felt that abortion was a good solution for pregnancies conceived through rape.
Notably, 43% said they were coerced into their abortions. They mentioned pressure from family members and/or abortion providers.
This is a startling contrast to the women who carried to term. Of the women who chose life, 80% explicitly expressed happiness about their child and/or their situation. Only four out of eighty-two women who chose life say that abortion “might” be a good solution for women pregnant from rape. Ninety-four percent said abortion was not a good solution for rape pregnancies.
The Emotional Aftermath of Abortion after Rape
Another study was conducted by Dr. Sandra Mahkorn, MD. and William V Dolan, MD. Seemingly counterintuitively, Mahkorn and Dolan found that 75%, or three quarters, of the women in their study carried to term.
They explained why many women chose life:
Beliefs that abortion involves violence, killing, or was immoral were the reasons most frequently reported for clients’ decisions against abortion.
Client viewpoints such as abortion is a “violent way of ending a human life” or abortion is “killing” w ere noted.
Others expressed the belief in an intrinsic meaning to human life, reflected in opinions such as “all life has meaning” or “this child can bring love and happiness into someone’s life.”
One pregnant victim related that she felt she would suffer more mental anguish by taking the life of the child.8
Instead of interviewing the women, Mahkorn and Dolan sought feedback from their therapists. The researchers asked these mental health professionals to measure how the women were coping on a scale. They were asked to rate things like self-esteem, anxiety, fear, satisfaction with their life circumstances, loneliness, depression, and contentedness. The therapists rated the intensity of these feelings in the women they counseled.
One questionnaire was completed when the woman first contacted the mental health providers, and they completed more questionnaires as therapy continued.
The women who conceived through rape and chose life showed more positive improvement over time than the women who chose abortion. The study showed that, according to the mental health professionals, women who carried to term had an easier time coping and healed faster emotionally than those who aborted. They consistently scored better on the scale as time went on. According to Mahkorn and Dolan, their study showed that:
pregnancy need not impede the victim’s resolution of the trauma . . . rather, with loving support, nonjudgmental attitudes, and emphatic communication, healthy emotional and psychological responses are possible despite the added burden of pregnancy.9
While no one can make a generalization about how abortion after rape will affect every woman, research found that in many cases, abortion only added to survivor’s trauma and slowed their healing.
Not only does abortion kill a baby, it often scars and traumatizes the one who aborts—even in cases of rape.
Many other women have given testimonies that are like those quoted in this article. See some of their stories below:
- Janet Morana Everything You Need to Know about Abortion – For Teens (Gastonia, North Carolina: TAN Books, 2021) 78.
- Ibid., 78.
- Ibid., 79.
- Sandra Kathleen Mahkorn, MD and William V Dolan, MD “Sexual Assault in Pregnancy” in Thomas Hilgers, Dennis Horan, and David Mall eds.New Perspectives on Human Abortion (Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1981); Sandra Kathleen Mahkorn “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault“ David Mall and Walter Watts, Eds. The Psychological Aspects of Abortion (Washington DC: University Publications of America, 1979.
For more of our posts on rape and abortion, see: