Julie Makimaa, 36, of Holland, Mich., is the product of a rape. Born in February 1964, she was given up for adoption. Twenty-one years later, she met her birth mother and learned of the circumstances of her conception for the first time.
Since then, Mrs. Makimaa has done research on how many children are conceived by rape, and she just published a book, “Victims and Victors,” about violated women. According to a 1996 study by the Medical University of South Carolina, 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year in the United States. Of those, about 20,000 are aborted.
Here are excerpts from her Capitol Hill briefing last week:
An overwhelming number of Americans feel abortion should be allowed for rape and incest. But the information that shapes their views is very one-sided. It presents abortion as the only solution, and that solution is presented without question.
Many pro-lifers have been convinced we need an exception to the right to life for rape and incest. We somehow believe the sacrifice of a few in rape and incest is the price we have to pay to obtain protections for the majority.
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, abortion proponents in America recognized the abortion was viewed as a negative act. In order to gain abortion rights, they recognized they had to change the way most Americans viewed abortion, [to see] that abortion was beneficial, it was a compassionate solution. A woman pregnant by assault presents the perfect situation that convinced people that abortion is compassionate.
The ACLU in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s searched for a rape victim who’d be willing to challenge the laws prohibiting abortion. They were unable to find a rape victim, but they did find Norma McCorvey, who became Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade, who claimed she was a victim of a gang rape by three men and a woman. It wasn’t until many years afterwards that Norma revealed that was a lie. Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, her attorneys, needed an extreme case to make her look pitiable. Rape seemed to be the ticket.
We’ve heard women should not be forced to carry a rapist’s child, that a pregnancy would create unbearable psychological trauma, that the victim could never love a child conceived in an assault, that the child would be a constant reminder of her rape.
The child is described as less valuable than the rest of us. The children will suffer physical and psychological deformities. Male children will be rapists. They will be criminals. Children carry the evil genes of their fathers. They will never love, never contribute to society. They will never have normal lives. This is the way the majority of Americans view rape and incest pregnancies.
We don’t want to inflict pain on this young mother. We want to help her. But we have been misguided in this help. We contacted 192 women who were pregnant through assault. Out of these 192 women, 133 of them carried to term.
Out of the 164 women pregnant through rape, 75 percent of these women carried to term.
Out of that 75 percent who carried to term, 64 percent of them are raising their own children. These women grew to love their child. They didn’t view it as the evil rapist’s child. They grew to love it as their child.
Of the 28 girls pregnant through incest, 50 percent of them carried to term. Of those 50 percent, 60 percent are raising their children.
The woman who is pregnant through incest typically is forced into abortion to hide what’s going on. The family members are taking her to an abortion clinic because they don’t want to be discovered and she’s put back into the abuse. People forget that for a lot of young girls, the pregnancy is finally the way out, the proof where someone else is brought in and pulls her out of that situation.
Women who carried their children to term grew to love their children, a bond was established with their child. They were victims in the assault, but they chose a higher path. They said, “I was a victim, but I want to do something good” to redeem what happened to them, the pain they suffered.
They told us over and over the most difficult part was the pregnancy but in the years that followed, they felt good about the decision they made. They had a child or they released a child for adoption. They gave life to someone who many say shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be born. But they felt there was some purpose to this life.
[Of the] women who chose abortion, the incest victims were taken by their families to abortion clinics. There was no real choice in that. Because of the reaction of their families, they felt they could not even suggest or voice their feelings for this child. If they said, “What if I want to carry this child to term?” people reacted by saying, “What? You love this rapist’s child?” They said the effects of the abortion caused greater trauma than the assault.
The woman who has been a victim will suffer pain. There are days when she won’t want to carry this child to term. But these women over and over have said, “Knowing what I know now, giving life was a good decision.”