The statement made by Richard Mourdock, US Senate candidate from Indiana, who opposes abortion in all cases including incest and rape, that any pregnancy even one “resulting from rape is a gift from God and something that God intended to happen,” is not only heartless but unbelievable in its assumption. Of course, Mr. Mourdock will ever know the reality of rape and what it does to a woman. He’ll never know the horror of having that happen to him. By saying that an embryo has more rights than the traumatized woman in whose womb it was implanted speaks volumes about his severely skewed view of women and equality.
My aunt was raped when she was only twenty-three and I never knew anything about it until I was an adult. No one ever talked about it. People didn’t talk about “those things” back in my aunt’s day. It was considered something for which she should be ashamed as if what was doneto her was somehow her fault. Her own mother, with the best of intentions, told her not to tell anyone about the “incident” for fear it would render my aunt unmarriageable. I can’t even comprehend that request to her daughter; unmarriageable for something over which she had no control!
My aunt told me the story of what happened to her because of what she is seeing and hearing on the news. Fifty years after the horrible rape occurred, she can still remember the terror and the man. She wanted me, her niece, to write about what happened because, “No man can ever truly know what happens to a woman when she is raped. I need you to tell my story.”
She was raped by a man who occasionally worked in her school, a day laborer she barely saw until the night she was working later than usual and he attacked her in the faculty room where she was making copies for her students. He raped her brutally and with a vicious intent. When she tried to fight back he punched her in the face and broke her nose. She thought he was going to kill her and so she stopped fighting. Over two hours, he raped her repeatedly.
When he was done raping her, he warned her not to tell anyone, that if she did he would kill her and throw her body onto the railroad tracks. My aunt waited for over a half hour before she dared to make her way to the principal’s office, lock herself in, and call her brother to come pick her up at the school.
When her brother came into the office he found her hysterical and bleeding. He took her to the hospital where they cleaned her up, set her nose, and sent her home. The nurses averted their eyes from her as if they were embarrassed to look at her, as if she were somehow soiled.
When she got home her father cried to see what had been done to his daughter and went to the closet where he kept his hunting rifle. His wife and son had to use all of their reasoning to stop him from going to find, and kill, her rapist. Later his son hid the rifle so his father couldn’t do what he wanted to do when no one was there to stop him.
The police were not called. Rape was a dirty business and the woman who accused a man of this horrendous act usually was considered to “have asked for it”. This was a time when women had no equal pay and not a hell of a lot of rights.
My aunt could not go back to that school where the horrible crime was committed and so she took time off without pay. She was afraid to go out, afraid to answer the door, and cried constantly. My aunt had thoughts of suicide and would wake up screaming. Her brother cried and, without anyone’s knowledge, he went looking for the man who had done this to his sister but the man was never found. There were no support groups and no one to whom she could talk about what happened. She felt alone. She had, what her mother delicately referred to as, a nervous collapse.
When she skipped a month of her period, the family doctor who examined her told her she was pregnant. He talked to her gently and she told him about the rape. He was a kind man and he asked her if she wanted to continue the pregnancy or end it. My aunt chose to end it. She could not live with a constant visual reminder of the brutal attack. Her doctor performed the abortion with the aid of his wife, who was a nurse, at a hospital in another town where the official hospital records showed that an appendectomy was performed. Abortion of course was illegal.
After a year my aunt asked to be transferred to another school and she went back to teaching. She received her doctorate when she was thirty-six years old and met and married my father’s brother. When she told him about the rape and the abortion he held her and cried for her pain.
“When I hear a man such as Richard Mourdock calling rape a method of conception I want to scream at him. This is something you will never know, something you will never understand. Rape is a wound that never heals and a memory that never fades.”
For fifty years my aunt never told anyone outside of her parents, brother, and her husband about her horrible ordeal. For fifty years she has had horrible memories about that night, nightmares that still have the power to leave her gasping for breath. Fifty years of her life for something over which she had absolutely no control.
Surely Mr. Mourdock’s god is more compassionate and understanding than he is.