Anti-choicers love to wax poetic about how beautiful it is for teenage girls to “choose life,” even when raped. Unfortunately, as a recent story out of Indiana shows, the reality is anything but beautiful. In the small town of Elwood, Ind., a 13-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year-old and impregnated. The victim opposes abortion, and while she briefly considered making an exception for herself in this case, she ultimately went ahead with the pregnancy. The result? She’s become a target for abuse and harassment in Elwood, and the formerly outgoing young woman is now a recluse. The Indianapolis Star reports on some of the abuse she and her mother, Kristy Green, have endured:
“I can’t walk out the door without someone calling me a whore or slut,” the girl said. “I used to have a lot of friends, or people I thought were my friends, but as soon as this happened I just isolated myself.”
The repeated vandalism incidents at the family’s home—including the words “whore” and “slut” scrawled on the garage doors—were reported to police. But Green said no charges were filed because there were no witnesses to the acts.
Her daughter also has been the target of mean-spirited rumors and speculation that her pregnancy is the result of promiscuous behavior.
This sort of thing reveals the inescapable contradiction at the heart of the anti-abortion movement: The very same sexual conservatism that gives rise to anti-abortion sentiment also produces slut-shaming and social ostracism of pregnant young and single women (not to mention rape victims). Avoiding the shame may actually drive a woman to get an abortion—not exactly the end result the anti-choicers want. For single pregnant women who are grown adults, this contradiction is finally collapsing under its own weight, contributing to the rise in single motherhood in red states. But for teenagers, the loving support for “choosing life” promised by the anti-abortion movement remains elusive.
The girl and her mother are taking their story to the press, in part because they fear that the rapist—who was convicted of molesting three girls, one who was only 12 at the time of the crime—will get off with a slap on the wrist. (His sentencing is scheduled for this afternoon.) The publicity may help that cause, but sadly, it’s probably not going to make life any easier for this family. As demonstrated by the events in Steubenville, Ohio; Cleveland, Texas; and Nova Scotia, being known as a rape victim doesn’t always get you much sympathy.