The Elliot Institute News
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Abortion & Sexual
Many people, including those whose mission is to help women and girls who are victims of sexual assault and abuse, believe abortion is the best solution if a pregnancy
results from rape or incest. Yet our research shows that most women who become pregnant through sexual assault don't want abortion, and say abortion only compounds their trauma.
This special edition of
The Elliot Institute News highlights common misconceptions and tells the stories of women who've been there. We encourage you to share this information with others who may have questions about this issue.
Rape, Incest and Abortion
Searching Beyond the Myths
“How can you deny an abortion to a twelve-year-old girl who is the victim of incest?”
Typically, people on both sides of the abortion debate accept the premise that most women who become pregnant through sexual assault want abortions. From this “fact,” it naturally follows that the reason women want abortions in these cases is because it will help them to put the assault behind them, recover more quickly, and avoid the additional trauma of giving birth to a “rapist’s child.”
But in fact, the welfare of a mother and her child are never at odds, even in sexual assault cases. As the stories of many women confirm, both the mother and the child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence.
Sadly, however, the testimonies of women who have actually been pregnant through sexual assault are routinely left out of this public debate. Many people, including sexual assault victims who have never been pregnant, may be forming opinions based on their own prejudices and fears rather than the real life experiences of those people who have been in this difficult situation and reality.
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What the Research Says
Victims and Victors Survey Says Most Don't Want Abortions; Only Adds to Trauma
There has been very little research conducted to date on the experiences of women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. One survey was conducted by the Elliot Institute for our book, Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault.
Our survey was based on letters and survey responses of 192
women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 164
were victims of rape and 28 were victims of incest (sexual
assault involving a family member). Overall, 69 percent
continued the pregnancy and either raised the child or made an
adoption plan, 29 percent had abortions and 1.5 percent had
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I Felt I Had No Other Choice
My sexual assault was what has been titled date or acquaintance rape. My freshman year of college I was dating a young man I had met that previous summer. We had talked about what we believed in and he knew my convictions about saving sex for my husband. Yet after a few months of dating he became impatient with waiting and forced himself on me against my protest. After the assault I blamed myself for letting it happen; I felt it was my fault and that I could have somehow avoided it. I did not realize until much later that it was a rape. I was scared of him; therefore, I did not tell anyone what had happened.
Two months later I became sick with the flu, only this flu did not go away. It was in the bathroom stall of our local mall that I first realized I was pregnant. A fear gripped me like none I had ever known. My head was spinning, my heart was pounding, and I was alone and terrified. Where could I go? Who could I tell? My parents would kill me. How could I explain how it happened? It was already August and I would be returning to college in only a few weeks. I had to find help quickly.
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Resources on Abortion and Sexual Assault
Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault
Free Resources to Share With Others
Hard Cases Web Page
Hard Cases: New Facts, New Answers fact sheet
Pregnancy and After-Abortion Help
Help During Pregnancy
Help For Those Struggling After Abortion
Open Letter from Ad Hoc Committee of Women Pregnant by Sexual
Petition for Congressional Hearings (pdf)
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