I was checking my email this morning (yes, I'm a teenager who prefers email to text messaging; don't judge) when I saw an email from the petition site change.org with the subject line "War Crimes against Women and Girls." Because I'm a pretty cool Catholic feminist (remember, no judging!) I immediately clicked and read. I'm expecting a petition asking for clothes, shelter, food, or even protection for the women raped and abused by ISIS and Boko Haram, concrete forms of help to comfort, protect, and heal these poor ladies. But what did I get?
Let's talk about how utterly unhelpful this is for a sec. These women have been through hell. They have been kidnapped, many have seen their male relatives murdered in front of them, and then they were taken and repeatedly raped and tortured (warning, graphic link) by captors who don't even see them as human. They have been broken physically, mentally, and spiritually, and nobody can deny that they need help. But abortion won't actually help them. It's probably safe to assume that the people who want to send American abortionists to these women are not the type who would be willing to send soldiers instead to actually take out the rapists themselves, because war is mean and stuff. No, we won't touch the rapists. We'll let them have free rein of their regions, let them continue to rape and murder and destroy, while only women pay the price, because the best form of aid we can give women is abortion.
Where's the message in my inbox asking for me to send medicine, doctors, or even midwives? Where's the email about their need for housing and clothes? Can I sign a petition asking for them to be sent priests and therapists, to help them come to terms with their abuse and to heal their minds and souls? Is sending them free abortion, as though it will undo the rape and make them forget the abuses ever happened, really the best we can offer?
It's our general national mentality that abortion is the best thing people can do to "fix" rape. When a woman is raped, she's offered the morning-after pill by every doctor she meets. No woman could possibly ever want to keep a child of rape, right? (Well... not right, but I digress.) Abortion is supposedly empowering, a sign of free womanhood. But giving rape victims abortions, as though it will make everything O.K. again, is disrespectful and condescending. Abortion doesn't heal rape. It just tells the world that someone's entire life can be defined by rape, and that being an unwilling participant in a sexual act can sometimes merit death. Regardless of who the parents of an unborn child are, he or she has done nothing to deserve to be killed. Every victim of rape, whether the person raped or the person created by rape, has a right to live on and not be defined by the crime that was perpetrated on him or her.
|Members of the "Save the 1" campaign|
Pope Saint John Paul II once said that we are all called "to respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations." Helping the mothers shouldn't mean killing the babies. If we want to empower and heal these women, let's not send abortionists — let's send teachers to empower and educate them! Let's send them doctors, people to teach them good ways to farm, and people to build homes for them and their children! Let's teach these women that no, rape isn't the end, they still have so much more to offer and so much more to give, starting with life for their children, who can bring about a new age of peace if they only have the chance to live! To quote the last line of that odious petition... We cannot add to the suffering of these women and girls. They need our help.
Love to all!