Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Decision Reversal after Rape Conception ~by Darlene Pawlik

Life long or life altering decisions should not be made while distressed.

In Case of Rape

We often hear, "What about rape," when discussing abortion. People still succumb to a confused compassion, believing that somehow, killing her baby will help a woman heal from the core violation of sexual assault.

A woman traumatized by rape is often so damaged in her psyche that she doesn't even tell anyone. It is such a deep wound that talking about it can take decades. So, too, many people do not share their abortion experience for many years. They keep it a secret, an unspoken source of pain.

So, how is it that anyone could think the combination of two traumatic and excruciatingly painful events will somehow bring anything good?

Rape Conception

At this time, this is still an experience exclusive to women. Men get raped, but they don't get pregnant. Fathers, husbands, and male friends are super important to this conversation, though. Men were created to be protectors and providers complimenting women in the roles of family, leadership, and society. Both have value and both have a voice in the discussion.

Except are the perpetrators. Forcing a woman and penetrating her, causing her to become pregnant excludes that man from the conversation. His aggression should automatically exclude him from any part of what happens next. "Rapists love abortion," says Rebecca Kiessling, president of Save The 1. They would have the evidence destroyed. The rapist should never have parental rights either. That is a whole other blog post.

No one, other than the rapist, is forcing her to carry a baby. The baby, is an innocent second victim of the hideous crime of rape. Killing her baby by abortion is no different than killing her baby after he or she is born. Rape has changed her life forever, whether or not she conceives.
I know it's legal -that doesn't make it right. Slavery was legal too. Still wrong!
Will it be difficult? Most assuredly. Can she get through it? Absolutely. And she will be victorious. She will have protected the human rights of her baby, one of the smallest and most vulnerable of society.

She needs time to process

Pregnancy changes a woman forever. No matter the outcome. She has been a mom. Most women do not know they are pregnant for around 6 weeks. Since pregnancy is about 40 weeks, she will know about 34 weeks of pregnancy. For perspective, the average woman lives to 72 years in the USA. In reality, the impact isn't how long she's pregnant, but the fact that she has a baby.

Sexual assault survivors can thrive and I know many who have, but it does take some time to process the intense emotional impact of rape. There will also be a difference between one woman to the next, if it was a simple assault of a healthy woman or a complex situation of domestic violence, continued abuses, or trafficking. Each woman needs time to work through the core violation.

How much time is completely indeterminate. She may be in a healthy, sound place one day and go into a tailspin the next. Women shouldn't be expected to make decisions related to abortion or adoption without plenty counseling from neutral parties and of time to consider the implications.

Decision Reversal

Judge Lot Moroka believes as I believe, that a woman who has been raped needs stability and time to make a decision relative to placing her child for adoption. In the case, the decision was reversed because the judge recognized the "emotional rollercoaster" of rape conception.

A living human being was created by a terrible assault, but that living human being had no part in the actual crime. She was a second victim and like many women I know, she was loved at first sight.

A child conceived by rape is still a child, developmentally no different from any other child.

Darlene Pawlik is VP of Save The 1, a professional speaker and blogger at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband of nearly 28 years.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Though Conceived in Rape and Abuse, My Daughter Deserved a Chance to Live, by Heather Hobbs

I don't have it all together.  Often I am asked how I have it all together.  What still gets under my skin are comments such as, "Wow! You are so strong!"  Or, "Your life is so perfect now!"  These statements still get to me.  If only we could all see behind the layers of another person.  I wish there was an easier way to share what I feel; perhaps a simple shoulder touch that instantly gives a flash of my memories and feelings?  The world would be so much better if we knew the pain and suffering of others so easily.  We could empathize far more than we ever thought capable.  Instead, I am writing this here and now, allowing the deeply pushed down emotions to come to the surface.

I have the most amazing daughter.  She is perfect and beautiful in EVERY way; inside and out, I can't even begin to express the level of kindness and love she possesses.  She came to me in a less than ideal way -- a way many would consider wrong.  I've endured a fair amount of trauma in my life and that led me to many poor choices as a teen.  This included who I surrounded myself with. 

When I was 18, I wanted so badly to escape the life I grew up in.  Though I love my parents deeply and I've forgiven all of the things that happened, at the age of 18, I hated and resented them.  I wasn't mature enough to consider their own upbringings as they parented us.  My mother was raised comparable to the book, “A Child Called It.”  She was a run away from juvenile hall at seventeen. My step-father was forced by his parents to drop out of middle school to sell cocaine for them.  He too was heavily abused and tormented as a child.  They did not know the right way to be parents.  So, as a teen I only felt anger and hatred for them.

I ended up marrying a man I barely knew who was five years older than myself.  I realize now I was trying to escape my life.  This man was newly enlisted into the U.S. Army; hence the marriage, because that was a requirement for me to be able to go with him to Germany, or so he said.  Getting married seemed like "no big deal."

To keep this short and simple, within weeks of arriving in Germany, I suffered the most brutal abuse I've ever endured.  Violence was a normal occurrence in the world I knew, but the extreme level that this was, I knew was not right.

We were roughly 50 minutes from the military base in a small village called Arnstein.  One of the neighbors heard the screams and called the polizei (German police) and when they arrived, he had already left.  The amount of blood resulted in an emergency ambulance ride and thorough testing at the hospital.  This happened shortly before Thanksgiving, 2007. 

He was given a slap on the wrist by the military police, extra duty, and confinement to the base.  The German police were not allowed to intervene.  The military refused to EROD (early return of dependents) me back to the United States.  In addition, I was completely isolated given that I had no phone, internet, bank account access, and was recently submerged into a culture and language I knew nothing about.

At 18 years old I was of course naive, confused, and what felt like the most helpless person on the planet.  I left out a lot of details intentionally because I am going to bypass the period of depression and anxiety that followed and skip to Valentine's Day, 2008.  Much happened in the interim, but it's not relevant to my purpose in sharing this story now.

Without warning or notification of any kind, my abuser was allowed to "surprise" me for Valentine's Day.  He showed up and violently raped me repeatedly.  Again, military police were involved, hospitalization was required, but nothing came of it for him -- just another slap on the wrist.  All the other soldiers who tried to help me were reprimanded and forced to stay out of it at risk of their own punishment.

Instead of helping me, I was advised to attend marriage counseling.  I was told “you can't be raped if you are married legally.”  I was made to feel like the bad guy in that situation.  I was told I'm not supporting my soldier, that I don't understand the stresses of the military.  He had never deployed at that point, so my mind couldn't even wrap around those statements.

Eventually, I felt suicidal.  I didn't know that I was suffering from severe PTSD.  I didn't know how to leave Germany, and if I did manage to escape and go, I didn't know where to go.  I made some friends, learned some of the language, but nothing that gave me a real reason to want to live.  I blamed myself for everything and I allowed myself to believe everything was my fault.  If I hadn't made him angry, if I hadn't gotten married, if I hadn't left Nebraska, if I hadn't believed all of his lies, if I were smarter or stronger -- all of these lines ran through my head over and over again.

While planning my death -- because I didn't want to fail at that too -- I had the worst flu-like symptoms of my life, lasting for well over a month.  I assumed all of the stress was weakening my immune system so heavily that I just couldn't recover.  I finally got myself to the hospital -- an adventure to say the least -- relying on public transport to get to the city with no knowledge of anything.  Luckily, the Germans are lovely people and ever so helpful even if they didn't know what I was saying.  I told the bus driver,"Krankenhaus" (hospital), and that's all he needed to hear to help me.  Other people on the bus also catered to me:  offering me water, a bag for nausea, one lady rubbed my head and sang quietly to me, which was the most wonderful feeling in the world to feel a small amount of love in a time where I spent months and months feeling none.

Upon arrival at the hospital, I found out I was pregnant.  I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is an extreme and debilitating version of morning sickness.  Though I was much further along than most when finding out, the doctors knew my situation of abuse from the prior hospitalizations. The physician lovingly and tenderly let me know that he can perform an abortion, as well as assuring me that he could heavily medicate me for the days following to help with the pain.

My world was closing in on me.  The news seemed surreal and almost like an out of body experience.  I can relive that moment as if it were yesterday because it so strongly impacted me.  I was not raised in a pro-life home nor an environment that would shun it.  Many friends in high school had them or took morning after pills regularly.  I had a friend who traveled internationally, then sold morning after pills in school.  It shouldn't have been a big deal at all to do it right then and there.  But I simply decided to think about it, then I received fluids and IV nutrition, and went home. 

Eventually my rapist-abuser found out through the grapevine that I was pregnant. He came back to where I was residing -- again unannounced -- under the guise of celebrating his news of a baby, and proceeded to try to beat the evidence of his rape out of me. The timeline perfectly matched my "alleged" rape. He had denied everything, including any sexual encounter and this pregnancy would only reveal the truth.  As he choked me on the floor, I stared at the ceiling losing consciousness; and that was the first time I felt my baby kick before passing out.

When I woke up my rapist-abuser was gone.  I felt dizzy and confused.  Suddenly, I recalled the kick.  I cried for hours -- tears not about what happened with him, but tears of realizing that I simply couldn't kill this child.  It made no sense to keep a baby with my circumstances.  It made zero sense.  Yet, I had no way to get myself to terminate. 

This long yet extremely shortened summary of how my daughter came to be was ultimately to bring
you to where I am now.  I don't hide my life.  I try to be open and honest about all that I've lived through so that maybe somewhere, someone out there will see the story and see light at the end of the tunnel.

But, I don't have it all together.  Ten years has passed and I'm not totally over it all.  I'm not anywhere close to perfect and I don't like the pressure that the statements make me feel.  I just did what every mother ought to do -- I fought for my child.  I'm not a perfect example of resilience and strength.  I struggled, it hurt immensely, I still have small moments of anxiety and PTSD-related issues. The experience has given me so many good things, including my daughter, but no, it wasn't easy.  I made many mistakes following and will continue to make them.  But, I am so very happy.  Today I have a wonderful husband and four amazing children, with my oldest being the best older sister in the world.

What I did learn?

1. We are stronger than we know.  I didn't think I could live through so much, but I have and continue to do so.  I do so productively and in a positive way.

2. My daughter is smart, beautiful, helpful, compassionate, and everything that someone could wish for when having a child.  She deserved the chance to live, whether with me or another family.  She has a lot to contribute to this world and I'm grateful I didn't deny her and the world of her presence.

3. My suffering was not in vain.  The purpose of all I endured wasn't to destroy me, but it did build me up to become a better person.  I have empathy and compassion that I never felt before.  The intensity of love I feel for other people now is indescribable.

4. I learned to forgive easily.  I forgave so many.  The anger and resentment I once felt for various people is gone.  Having the bright light of my daughter helped me recover from the trauma, and also to forgive those who hurt me.

5. My burdens were lightened.  I can help others do the same to the best of my ability.  I spend as much time as possible helping other women in tough situations.  Post-abortive or not, women who've went through this need love and compassion.

6. The judicial system is severely broken and only those who try can change it.  The legal battles that followed, as well as the lack of counseling and support available was tragic.  I see why so many women stay with their abusers, or why they give up hope and turn to drugs or suicide.  The military system is fractured and needs major change for women to get through these kinds of situations.  Laws need to change!  Children conceived in rape need to be protected legally.  There are still a handful of states which allow rapists to retain parental rights even after rape has been proven.  

7. These babies not only deserve to live, but they offer a chance at a real prosecution for the rapists and possibly a baby for a family who would be thrilled to adopt.

I will end this by saying I know now much more than I did then.  If you need help, there are resources, but they can be difficult to find.  Do not give up.  Do not allow the abuser or rapist to take control of your life.  You have to fight!   It doesn't seem fair and I know this is the scariest thing you'll ever do, but do not give up on yourself or your child.  It will always be there, but it does not define you.  You are not a victim, you are a survivor.  Allow your child to be a survivor too.  Allow that baby a chance to live and help change the world.

BIO:  Heather Hobbs is a busy LDS wife and mom of four beautiful children actively engaged in the community with volunteer work and writing for the pro-life movement in the little free time left. She is a pro-life blogger for Save The 1.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

We Are The 1% - The Shocking Reality Behind The Numbers, by Jim Sable

1%. It doesn’t sound like very much. If the sales tax goes up 1% in your town, you may notice the slight increase and may shop somewhere else. If your weight goes up 1% after Thanksgiving, it’s most likely only temporary. If you buy a car with 1% better gas mileage, you may not notice anything different. But, what is the impact on human life because of abortion exceptions, which amount to about 1% of cases?

Why is the 20 week abortion ban seen as a tremendous opportunity for a pro-life victory, while eliminating the rape exception is nearly at the bottom of the priority list for ending abortion? Isn’t it shocking that the prospect of annually saving 18,000 babies' lives with the 20 week ban, a laudable goal, is enthusiastically pursued, while the chance to permanently protect the 32,000 or more babies conceived from rape every year, by eliminating all traces of the rape exception, is not supported by many in leadership positions, (both pro-life and clergy), and in political office?

The rape exception is a creation of the abortion rights movement, but is accepted and promoted by some in the pro-life community out of a false sense of compassion, because it is the popular view, or because of pro-life politics. Most of these people do not consider my life at all. To them, the rape exception is only a concept.

I was conceived when my mother was attacked on her way home from work in the late summer of 1957. It is interesting to note that at the same time in 1957, members of a prominent lawyers group, The American Law Institute, (ALI), proposed and recommended that the first exceptions policy guidelines be added to state abortion prohibition laws. The ALI exceptions were: grave physical or mental health impact to the mother, evidence that the child would be born with a grave physical or mental defect, and rape and incest.

Mississippi added a rape exception in 1966. Colorado was the first state to incorporate the ALI exceptions in 1967. Thirteen states were using the ALI exceptions template by the time Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

I discovered my conception story in 2005, and the news was initially devastating. I have thought about my conception every day since, but, the initial pain has been replaced by a powerful pro-life energy and purpose. What is still devastating is the constant push for “exceptions” in law. It is quite a significant betrayal when the exception efforts come from the pro-life side. Their efforts, projecting them back to 1957, would have resulted in not protecting my life. Today, the exceptions target tens of thousands of babies when they are added to pro-life legislation. Our collective efforts at Save The 1 work to end the exceptions era and explain why exceptions are bad pro-life policy.

Unfortunately, those who advocate for exceptions never tell anyone when the rape exception era will end. They never tell us what has to happen in order to permanently eliminate the exceptions. They don’t seem to believe that the exceptions strategy is a broken strategy. They don’t make the connection between the rape exception and the history of the Roe v. Wade decision. They deemphasize the rape exception by saying that it only amounts to 1% of cases. This may be the most common rationale behind the promotion of the rape exception.

What is behind the facade of that 1% deflection? How can you say to a targeted group of people, “Sorry, there just aren’t enough of you to work very hard to protect?” There is a number that beyond which no one in the pro-life community could ignore. They never tell us what that number is, if they’ve even considered what it should be. It is clear that 1% is not enough. And, it is the ultimate cruelty. It is cruel to the rape-conceived. It is saying: “Your numbers are not significant enough to make it worthwhile to fight for your protection.” It is also cruel to women. Cruel and shocking. I don’t think anyone that supports exceptions has even considered it.

Being 1% is not yet enough to achieve legal protection for the rape-conceived. In order for that number to be higher and “significant” enough to be noticed, even MORE women would have to be raped and pregnant. Can you think of anything crueler than that? Is that really what it is going to take to end the “exceptions” era? Must we add countless more traumatized women to the 1% in order to surpass the mystery magic number necessary to purge exceptions from orthodox pro-life strategy? The obvious answer is NO! 1% is way more than enough.

Our founder and President, Rebecca Kiessling, discusses how exceptions impacted the Roe v. Wade decision in this article.

And this previous Save The 1 article expands on the point about the broken strategy.

Please visit our website to learn the best responses to the defenses of the rape exception and answers to the questions you may hear. Please add the arguments presented in this short essay to bolster the information you will find on our website.


Jim Sable is a husband and father of 4 -- 3 biological sons and one recently-adopted daughter from China. He and his wife Wendy are both adopted. Conceived in rape, Jim is also a Board Member, national pro-life speaker and pro-life blogger for Save The 1.