seventeen when I was date-raped. No one called it that back then in 1968, but
that's what it was. The guy I had been dating wanted to have sex. I didn't. I
was so young, so stupid, I thought telling him 'no' would be enough.
night it happened, he had been drinking. He was supposed to be driving me home
from a dance. Instead, he drove me to a deserted backroad and told me he was done
waiting: he wanted sex. I told him again that I would not have sex with him. He
grabbed me by the throat and beat my head against the closed window of the car.
He choked me until I blacked out. The pain I felt when he raped me was what brought
me back to consciousness. I began to cry and struggle, and he choked me again
so he could finish what he was doing. When he finally let me go, he said that
he would kill me if I ever told anyone what he had done. He also said I deserved
it, and that it was my fault: "You made me do it, you know you did. I wouldn't
have had to get rough if you'd just f---ked like a normal woman."
truth is, I wasn't a woman at all. I was 17; I was a child.
I found I was pregnant, my mother blamed me. She, too, believed it was all my
fault, that I just hadn't handled the situation properly. She and my father insisted
I marry the rapist. It would embarrass and humiliate the whole family if I didn't.
married me to stay out of jail. After we were married, he continued to blame me
for 'ruining his life.' He told me that he had had plans. He had had dreams. Now
he was stuck with me, and I was sick all the time and he couldn't even have any
'fun' with me.
He began beating
me after one of his friends told him it might lead to a therapeutic abortion.
He slapped me, choked me, threw me against walls, tripped me as I was going down
stairs. He didn't injure me badly enough to cause a miscarriage, but he did hurt
me badly enough to cause brain damage in the baby.
stopped breathing twice during labor. There were times during the next dozen years
when I wished passionately that they had not brought me back. My child was not
normal, could never be normal. The rapist had long since left me and gone on to
I was left
alone to raise a child who should never have been born. Until I was 30 years old,
my life was a progressive dark tunnel of pain, anger, resentment, regret, sleepless
nights, endless trips to endless doctors, none of whom could help. Looking back,
I don't know how I survived. It was worse than being locked up for a crime I didn't
commit: I felt as if I lived in a concentration camp, trapped every day with no
way out, no hope, no relief, no rest, no respite, and no prospect for anything
Finally, on the point
of physical and mental collapse, I forced the welfare department to take custody
of the child. I was past caring what anyone thought. I only knew that if I did
not escape that horrible burden, I would die. And I had never even had the chance
Almost twenty years
later, I do not regret anything I had to do to escape. What I regret is that I
ever had to go through it. The child should never have been conceived. He should
never have been born. My life should have been worth more than the seed of
legal abortion would have spared me so much anguish, so much torment and suffering.
I can never make up those lost years. I can never be young again. And, due to
the damage caused by that unwanted pregnancy, I can never have a wanted child.
was gained by laws that kept me pregnant against my will? Nothing, except that
a rapist got away with his crime.
may not be the answer for every woman, but it must remain legal and available.
We must never allow "pro-life" to push women back into the position
I was in at the age of 17. Outlawing abortion would be worse than jailing every
woman in the country; it would be like selling us all into slavery.Ann
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know that every time I do an abortion for a woman who chooses it, I am saving
her life literally, figuratively." - Maureen Paul, MD, Boston