At least I can’t get pregnant.
This was the thought in my mind when my rapist anally penetrated me. At least I can’t get pregnant. In the midst of the horror I endured, I clung to that thought. What was happening was excruciating, terrifying. But at least I wouldn’t get pregnant. Because becoming pregnant after this would have been even worse. It would have taken a six-hour long period of assault and degradation and stretched it out across nine months. It would have been a daily reminder of what he did to me. I wouldn’t be at home in my own body.
At least I can’t get pregnant…
But many other women aren’t so lucky, if you can even use a word like “lucky” in a situation like this. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates there are 270,000 women sexually assaulted in 2010. A study by the Guttmacher Institute shows that 1 percent of all women who receive an abortion do so after being raped. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control counted 784,507 legal, induced abortions in 2009 (figures for 2010 weren’t available). Putting that together, you can guestimate that there were 7,845 abortions following a rape, which accounts for roughly 3 percent of all women who were raped in a year.
Years after my own rape, I sat in a room with a teenage girl and her mother. The girl had been raped two months earlier, but in her shock and shame, told no one. Now, she was pregnant. And her mother, who had also been raped and become pregnant when she was young, didn’t want her daughter to go through what she had endured. The girl, in shock, said little. But when asked if she wanted to continue the pregnancy, she lifted her head and said, “No.”
Until you have been in situations like these, you have no business telling a woman who has been raped that she can’t have an abortion, or make it harder for her to obtain. You just don’t know.
And yet, that is what may be happening here in Michigan, where “Right to Life” has gathered enough petitions to force yet another abortion restriction on women. This time, they want to prevent health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage on policies. If a woman wants abortion coverage, she would have to buy a separate rider at an additional expense. There would be no exception in the cases of rape, incest or the health of the woman.
In essence, women would be required to buy rape insurance. Or incest insurance. Or insurance against an in utero stillbirth that must be removed for the woman’s safety.
I can’t comprehend how someone can be so callous. I can’t understand how someone can be so utterly lacking in empathy. And most of all, I don’t understand how someone can be so cold while insisting that they do so in the name of a religion that purports to be about love and forgiveness.
I just can’t.
And best of all, this move to further punish victims of rape has the support of the political party that constantly crows that “government should get out of the way of business.” Yes, by all means. Government so small it can fit in my uterus.
So, Republicans in Michigan’s legislature now have a choice – which is ironic, since they have no problem denying women the same. They can either enact a law based on Right to Life’s petition within 40 days, or they can allow it to be put to a referendum.
I’d like to say I have hope, but if the Republicans who run this state are one thing, it’s consistent. They stop at nothing to further their far-right agenda.
How can they be so cruel?
- No Exemptions For Rape, Incest: Right To Life MI Looking To Prohibit Insurers From Providing Abortions (detroit.cbslocal.com)