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Pro-Life literature mistakenly trivializes rape

Recently, the MIT Pro-Life group posted a bulletin board in the Infinite Corridor which included a flyer beginning, "Except for homicide, rape is the most serious violation of a person's body...." On the eve of Rape Awareness Week (October 2-6), we were glad to see another campus group making a positive response in publicizing the seriousness of rape.

We were less happy, however, when it became clear that Pro-Life was offering "helpful suggestions" that seemed to confuse the issue. To say, as Pro-Life does, that "few pregnancies result from rape" trivializes rape's trauma.

We realize that Pro-Life is trying to defend its anti-abortion stance by lessening the issue of pregnancies resulting from rape, but to follow its statement that the "victim's ego and sense of self are penetrated as well as her body" with the pat "pregnancies have rarely resulted from forcible rape" seems ludicrous. Is this "helpful suggestion" meant to relieve the rape victim's pain in some way? Is it meant as a comfort to her shattered "ego and sense of self"? -- Oh, don't worry, it could be worse, at least you aren't pregnant?!

Finally, we must address the truth of the statement "few pregnancies result form rape." True, men can also be raped or sexually assaulted (a fact not mentioned in Pro-Life's definition) and this does not lead to pregnancy. However, Pro-Life came to their conclusion based on data only from reported rapes. Police acknowledge that many rapes go unreported, making it difficult to prove assumptions based only on those rapes which are reported. Pro-Life includes several citations meant to prove their point, but amongst these is a reference to a "morning after pill" as a means to avoid pregnancy after rape. This "morning after pill" sounds a great deal like the "abortion pill" (RU486) now on the market in France but which is illegal in the United States and has been violently denounced by Pro-Life itself.

Such Pro-Life policy contradictions are not the point of this letter. We simply want to reiterate that rape is a violent crime whose trauma cannot be lessened by glib statements on the likelihood of pregnancy as its result. We encourage the MIT community to take part in Rape Awareness Week.

Anne Conron '90->

Erica Wickstrom '90->

Howard Ro '90->