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Eureka: Should abortions be legal in the case of rape?
by Jay Gutman
2018-06-04 08:11:28
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In a previous article, I explained how I thought abortions should be illegal unless obstetricians believe there is a serious health risk for the mother, as in cases where the mother has addiction problems or other health factors are involved in the mother's health safety. But I did not adress the question of whether abortions should be legal or illegal in case of rape.

First of all, just because some pregnancies are the result of rape, doesn't mean all abortions should be legal in my opinion. Second of all rape and pregnancies resulting from rape is a matter which demands very clear definitions. What is rape? How do pregnancies result from rape?

abort001_400Now close your eyes and try to define rape in your mind. I know it's violent, gruesome, horrible. We often picture a woman who gets assaulted by a man in the streets and the man forces himself sexually on the woman. But rape is a lot more complexe than that, and I think rape should be an integral part of education on sexual harassment and sexual assault.

There are basically two types of rape. Rape from the ingroup and rape from the outgroup. Rape from the ingroup is when an individual familiar to the victim uses his or her status or position to abuse a man or a woman sexually. That is when a spouse, a father, an older brother, a cousin, a teacher, a professor, a supervisor, a colleague, a classmate, a church pastor, an imam, a rabbi, a fellow church goer abuses his relationship with the victim to have sexual relationships. Often, the rapist will use tactics such as emotional abuse, in some cases physical abuse, and hint that the emotional or physical abuse could stop if the two have sexual relationships. In many legislations, abusing someone emotionally or physically with the end goal of abusing them sexually is considered rape, and it does not matter whether the relationship was consensual or not.

This does cause a great deal of interpretation and confusion in courts where rape cases are heard though. Sometimes the abuser will claim that the victim initiated the sexual relationship, while in some cases the victim could file a rape lawsuit to avenge a former partner who had taken advantage of them sexually. That is up to the judge to examine the evidence and figure out whether the relationship was healthy and consensual, or whether some for of abuse was involved.

Rape is a painful enough experience, and pregnancies resulting from rape add more pain to the experience. In the scenario I describe above, where the victim has some form or social relationship with the abuser, rape is a very painful experience, and a pregnancy resulting from rape even more painful. Such women often have to go through therapy, although in a lot of cultures or society there is even more shaming among family and friends and therapy is not encouraged. That is families and friends blame the sexual assault on the victim, and tell them to get over it in a lot of cases. A lot of victims don't even know of the existence of therapy, different types of therapy that is, including classical therapy where the victim is encouraged to talk about her trauma until saturation, group therapy where the victim meets other victims of rape, past and present, or other forms of therapy such as artistic, musical, religious or social or behavioral therapy. In some cases unfortunately psychiatric treatment is also needed, and being the victim of rape or other traumatic events can cause insomnia, disorganized speech, thoughts or behavior, eating disorders and other consequences.

Now to rape when it is caused from people from the outgroup, that is people the victim had no previous established social relationship with. That could be the victim meeting someone at a nightclub, at a pub, at a social event, in a hotel, at a friend's house or in other social circumstances, or just someone they bump into in the streets. The abuser invites the victim to “his house” or to a quiet place and starts abusing the victim. In some cases the victim fights back, in other cases the victim lets go, often because the victim fears murder if they don't let go. A lot of times the victim is female and the abuser is male, but there are situations where it can be male-male, female-female or female-male. The late Omar Sharif liked to share an anecdote where he was raped by a woman who knocked on his hotel room door and threatened him with a gun. The audience often laughs at this anecdote, but to me there's nothing funny about the anecdote.

Again victims are often shamed, or their friends or family will act like nothing happened and will tell them to move on. Other times rape victims can go into all kinds of psychological or psychiatric therapy. Rape is a painful experience enough, but pregnancies resulting from rape, be it in the case of a stranger or of someone familiar, can be a very painful experience.

So to the question, should women be allowed abortions in case of rape? First of all, there are different scenarios. In some cases families and friends act like nothing happened and encourage the victim to give birth the the child, perhaps even raise the child. Some crazy families even encourage the victim to try to marry or be in a relationship with the “father” of the child. Other families and friends are more supportive, start therapy plans and eventually discuss more or less openly the trauma.

In my opinion, of course women should be allowed to get abortions in pregnancies resulting from rape. But (I know some people hate buts) in my opinion the abortion should be recommended by therapists, that is you need to make sure that the trauma is being taken care of properly and is not being sweeped under the carpet. That is there needs to be some kind of discussion and recommendations with therapists before the abortion is carried through.

There's one case which is defined as rape which I have not discussed is sexual relations with minors. Many countries and states have what we call an age of consent, where if a child is under the age of consent they can not be allowed sexual relations, and sexual relations between an adult and a minor, even when consenting, is considered rape. Other women who might have reckless sexual lives might also claim that they were raped so they can be allowed to have abortions. This is also why I believe therapists should have a say in whether the abortion should be carried out or not. That's assuming all therapists are highly trained to deal with rape issues and other issues, unfortunately a lot of them are not, some therapists even tell the victims to get over it or shame the victims. But that's another story.

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