Friday 27 March 2009


There are few topics that produce such divided, passionate and oftentimes violent reactions like abortion does. Other topics that arouse similar passions are race, religion, politics and sexuality.

CNN picked up a story in Brazil, of the excommunication from the Catholic Church of all parties that played a part in an abortion procedure performed on a nine year old girl who had been raped by her step-father. Those excommunicated included the child’s mother and medical staff. The child was not excommunicated because the Catholic Church states that children can’t be, but unbelievably, neither was the step-father. The archbishop who was responsible for the excommunications, Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, said this was because "a graver act than (rape) is abortion." My jaw dropped at that comment. Does the nine year old girl not classify as being “an innocent life”? In Brazil, at least 40% of those treated for pregnancies as a result of rape are children. Rape is obviously an epidemic in certain parts of Brazil and the archbishop would do well to tackle what ails such a large proportion of the men in his society rather than making such ill-informed statements.

Once upon a time I had very strong views on abortion. I believed it to be wrong, particularly in cases where the pregnancies occurred as a result of living irresponsibly or it was deemed an inconvenient time to have a child. I still do not believe abortion to be right in these scenarios at all. Sex with protection isn’t always a sure-fire way of preventing unwanted pregnancies as condoms can split and leak and oral contraceptives have a habit of failing, so worse case scenarios should always be worked through carefully. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine became pregnant as a result of a split condom and she went on to have an abortion; a decision that she is still affected by today. The psychological impact of an abortion is something that women are never fully prepared for even, with pre-abortion counselling.

I know of another woman my age who fell pregnant with all of her children as a result of her oral contraceptives failing, but she had them all and they are a lively bunch who she and her husband love dearly. For sure she would have rather waited until she felt she and her husband were ready, but she figured as children were always part of the plan, she may as well go ahead with it.

Years later the question of what a woman should do if she became pregnant through rape crossed my mind. She didn’t choose to have sex with her attacker, so why should she go through with a pregnancy she had no consenting part in? My immediate response was “well they should abort it; who in the world wants to have a rapist’s baby? How can the mother bring herself to love it? What will it grow up to be like? How will you explain who their father is?”

A number of years ago I was sent an email entitled “who would you abort?” One of the questions was:

A white man rapes a 13 year old black girl and she get pregnant. If you were her parents, would you recommend an abortion?

If so, in this case you would have killed Ethel Waters, the great gospel singer.

I was dumbfounded, as I had no idea up till then that some women who had become pregnant through rape went on to give birth to these children. A couple of years ago at a women's conference, one of the speakers shared the story of her life. She was a beautiful, confident woman who was married with a grown up son and she was doing great things with her life. All her life she had known that she was adopted and she was fine with that as her adoptive parents were wonderful people. When her adoptive father died, however, it sent her on a quest to find out why she had been given up for adoption.

After a few months she traced her biological mother via the name that had been given on her birth certificate. There was no mention of the father. It took a while but her mother agreed to meet with her. It was a little awkward at first, but then they got a bit more comfortable with each other. I can't remember if it was the lady or her mother who broached the subject of the circumstances of her adoption first, but the mother said the reason that there was no mention of her father on the birth certificate was because she had no idea who he was; her pregnancy was the result of a gang-rape. The speaker admitted she was stunned. She had not expected that answer. She felt great compassion and love for her biological mother, as well as gratitude that she had allowed her to live. The speaker said that she still felt a bit adrift not knowing who her biological father was, but it didn't matter. Her adoptive father had more than made up for this void.

As I was doing research for this piece I came across this amazing website which has stories from people who had been conceived through rape. It is a real eye opener.

I still feel that in the instance of a rape pregnancy, a woman should do what is best for her. This a traumatic experience that few people can even begin to understand. Such a woman will need a strong support system around her comprised of people who will love and care for her first and foremost, and support her in whatever decision she makes.

When you can put a face to those who could have become an abortion statistic for whatever reason and hear what they have to say, it causes us to look at the issue in a whole new light. I’m not judging or guilt-tripping anyone; it’s just that in light of hearing from those who were products of rape and those who became parents in adverse circumstances, it has just made me look at the whole issue differently.

Monday 2 March 2009

Have seven years passed already!??

It was my niece's 7th birthday on Saturday! Already! I remember when I first saw her aged about 6 weeks old; eyes closed, clutched fists and spindly little legs that were all part of a tiny little body which fit in the crook of my arm. My next memory is of her at a year old. She couldn't walk or talk and needed to be carried everywhere with a continuous eye kept on her.

Fast forward a few years and she is now such a wonderful, confident, independent little girl who loves people, being the centre of attention, all things pink (please note the birthday outfit!)....

...and is a die-hard High School Musical fan! Happy Birthday sweetheart!