One in six women is a survivor of rape or attempted rape. This life-altering crime is depressingly common, yet still shrouded in secrecy and stigma. An estimated 5% of rape victims become pregnant, compounding their suffering. If you are considering an abortion after rape or incest, here’s what to expect.
When Can I Get an Abortion?
You can get an abortion as soon as you learn you are pregnant. In fact, the earlier you get the procedure the safer and more affordable it will be. Very early in pregnancy, you can avoid surgery altogether via the abortion pill. In all states, abortion is legal up to 12 weeks (or about 8 weeks after your missed period), and most states allow abortion up to 20 weeks.
Abortion is a Safe Option
You’ve already suffered a huge violation of your body, and you may worry about seeing a doctor or the risks of abortion. Abortion is safe–and exponentially safer than giving birth. Most abortion clinics also offer a range of abortion sedation options, which means you don’t have to be awake or know what’s going on during the procedure. Conversely, if your concern is remaining in control, you can remain awake during a first trimester abortion and the provider will walk you through the entire process step by step.
No One Else Owns Your Body
Following a rape, you deserve and need to know that you, and only you, have the right to control what happens to your body. This means you control the abortion, and your provider has to get your consent for each element of the procedure. It also means that no one else can force you to get an abortion, no matter who they are or how old you are.
If you’re worried that your rapist may try to stop you from getting an abortion, they can’t. You do not have to tell them about your pregnancy, and do not have to do what they want you to do–even if they are a parent or relative.
Choosing the Right Clinic is Key
All quality abortion clinics have experience helping trauma survivors, but some offer additional resources. When you call, ask if the clinic has trauma-informed clinicians and experience supporting rape survivors. Then ask what specific measures they take to support survivors during and after the procedure. Some even have support groups. Click here for tips that can help you find a great abortion clinic.
Minors May Need Additional Help
If you are under 18, you can still get an abortion–and in many states, you do not need a parent’s permission. In states where you do need parental permission to get an abortion, you sill have options. Minors can confidentially go before a judge for a judicial bypass that allows them to get an abortion without a parent’s permission.