The Brave Confession of a Woman Who Got Pregnant From Rape

What Women Really Think
Aug. 21 2012 1:17 PM

The Brave Confession of a Woman Who Got Pregnant From Rape

98094842
An Afghan baby in a crib

Photograph by Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Today on xoJane, a woman named Shauna Prewitt confesses to something few women have before: She became pregnant after a rape and kept the baby. In her open letter to Rep. Todd Akin, Prewitt very movingly describes the tortured, conflicting thoughts she had when she found out she was pregnant: She was miserable and ashamed about the rape and then guilty and ashamed about any feelings of joy she had about the pregnancy. In Akin’s version, the female body has a mystical way of somehow intuiting the rape and shutting “the whole thing down,” as he put it, in other words, behaving in a biological way which happens to perfectly align with Akin’s political views. But in the real world, biology is blind to our feelings or politics and goes about its business, and the feelings just have to muddle along and catch up.

One smart decision Prewitt makes in her letter is not to describe the details of the rape. This way, she is not subject to Akin and company’s analysis of whether the events in question constitute “legitimate rape” or not—another of his choice phrases. She merely describes the complicated and unpredictable events that followed: Prewitt kept the baby who is now a second-grader. At first she had tried to deaden herself to the rape but then it became the defining fact of her life in many ways. She became a lawyer dedicated to helping victims of rape who decide to keep their babies. (In many states, she discovered, a rapist has the same visitation rights as any father, for example.)

Advertisement

One worry I had upon reading Prewitt’s letter is that Akin and other conservatives will seize it as fodder for the pro-life position. See, what matters is the precious life that resulted from this! But again, that is not at all Prewitt’s point. What she’s saying is, things are complicated. There is no predictable magic. One can feel rage and shame and joy about the same fact. That’s what it means to really understand “life.” 

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 5:19 PM Social Outcasts Republican candidates are retreating from debates on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 6:43 PM Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Is Skipping Windows 9
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.