Rape CAN result in pregnancy, so what are your rights?
Image: via Shutterstock
You’re sitting in the doctor’s office. Still too numb to cry. Even though it's weeks later, you can’t erase the fear that it will happen again. It probably won’t, you realise, but rational thought is a stranger to you lately since you became a survivor of rape. One of probably 65 000 which will be reported this year in SA. The trauma doesn’t show any signs of lifting, and you hardly hear as the doctor with the frown lines confirms your pregnancy. "Get it out", you argue with yourself, helplessly imagining your Gran in her church clothes muttering that "abortion is murder".
The "legitimate rape" lie
The ridiculous assertion by US politician Todd Akin that: “It’s really rare for pregnancies to result from rape, because if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down”. His words, no matter how much he tries to cover them up. According to his theories, no abortions would be allowed for women pregnant as a result of statutory rape, rape or incest. Shockingly ignorant.
Well, countless South Africans can attest that rape may indeed result in pregnancy, Mr. Akin. In fact, women here live in fear not only of the brutal possibility of rape, but the gut-wrenching maybe that it would result in a pregnancy.
Your rights in the event of surviving rape
That’s exactly why, as part of post-rape protocol, doctors recommend that the Morning After Pill (MAP) be taken within 72 hours of the rape, according to Rape Crisis. If the pill is ineffective (if taken more than 72 hours after the rape) and you become pregnant, you are entitled to other medical treatment. You are entitled to the MAP (as well as antibiotics to prevent sexually transmitted infections and antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV infection) even if you don’t want to report the rape to the police.
If you know of anyone who has been raped, encourage them to seek counselling and treatment.
So many rapes go unreported, however; every day babies in this country will be conceived from rapes. These will be legitimate pregnancies, a real consequence of very real rapes. Some women may choose not to abort, while some may decide to have abortions, both of which choices are available to the rape victim.
With so many women and girls being raped, and the fear of this being part of our collective consciousness- what if it happens to me, my daughter, my mother, my friend- it is worth finding out what to do in the aftermath of a rape from an organisation like Rape Crisis. [Unfortunately, unless urgent funding is found, Rape Crisis faces closure- find out how you can help keep this valuable resource centre going by visiting their site]
Forgetting the nonsense about ‘legitimate rape’ from Akin, then. Obviously women can conceive as a consequence of rape.
What would you do in the event of a rape: Would you demand your right to the Morning After Pill?
By: Scott Dunlop