When even pro-lifers are willing to grant abortion exceptions in cases of rape, Nicole* and her daughter, Zoe, disagree.
Nicole, now a Samaritan Ministries member, was raped by a high school acquaintance in 1998 in Florida. Nine months later, she gave birth to Zoe, who turned 20 in February.
“It wasn’t her (Zoe’s) fault, what happened,” Nicole says. “I think a lot of people think abortion is an easy out because it takes away the ‘problem,’ but the problem is not the child. The child didn’t do anything. The problem is you have to deal with the grief and the loss and the pain from what happened to you, and you deal with having to forgive somebody who has wronged you. But that person is not this innocent little baby.”
Zoe, now a wife and mom herself with a job in a church preschool teaching 2-year-olds, is pretty happy her mom didn’t get an abortion.
“I am really glad that she decided to keep me and really grateful for my grandparents being there and supporting her,” Zoe says.
After all, she points out, if Nicole hadn’t given birth to her, she wouldn’t be able to teach the toddlers about Jesus.
Nicole married when Zoe was about 4 years old, and she and her husband, who adopted Zoe, have had four additional children.
With the help of such resources as Kay Arthur’s Lord, Heal My Hurts Bible study, Nicole has been able to work through the pain of the rape. But it has taken a while.
The attack occurred when she and the boy went to his house to pick up a prop for a school play they both were in.
“He started coming on to me,” Nicole says. “I was like, ‘No, no, no. You have a girlfriend and I don’t want to do that.’ He kept persisting and becoming forceful and then he raped me. Then he acted like nothing happened and went on about how great his girlfriend was. I was just sitting there mortified. To him it was no big deal.”
But it was a big deal to Nicole, who wasn’t able to tell anybody besides her parents what had happened until a couple years after Zoe had been born.
The rape occurred right before high school graduation, “so I didn’t see him (the rapist) after that very much, which was a blessing from God,” Nicole says. After scaling back her college plans due to the baby, she moved back in with her parents.
“I was too ashamed to say anything for a long time,” Nicole remembers. “That was also hard because you’re carrying that secret with you because it’s just embarrassing. It’s like, I should have been able to fight him off.”
Nicole even found herself wishing for a miscarriage, “because then I wouldn’t have to deal with it.”
“I know that sounds terrible, but it was out of fear,” Nicole says.
The thought of abortion was “a brief blip.”
“It’s so special that I have Zoe in my life, and she’s such a blessing. I don’t regret it. I’ve never regretted it for a day.Nicole
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, if I had an abortion, no one would know, everything would be fine,’” Nicole says. “I think it was really just Satan trying to put that thought into my head, because I’m not pro-abortion at all and wasn’t back then. We had done foster care with my parents. I think it was just Satan trying to get me while I was vulnerable.”
Her conclusion, though, was that she could “never do that.”
“I don’t think I could live with myself if I actually went through with (abortion),” Nicole says, “so I never really entertained the thought.”
Adoption also occurred to her, but she decided against that because of her concern that her child might be raised in a non-Christian home and may never know Christ.
Nicole says her parents, both devout Christians, were “very supportive” of her choice to raise the baby.
Besides her parents, financial support came later from a job at a department store as well as a cash settlement from a car accident that happened when she was 11 and that now came to her at 18.
“I think God worked this out,” Nicole says.
She also eventually earned an associate degree in criminal justice.
God wasn’t nearly done working in her life, though. When Zoe was 3 and the mom and baby had found their own apartment, Nicole met a guy. A Christian guy. A Christian guy who was very kind to Zoe.
He and Nicole got married, and the family of three began to grow.
Eventually, of course, Zoe wanted to know more about her origins.
“We never really kept it a secret,” Nicole says. “I just said, ‘Somebody did something bad to mommy. But I’ve always loved you. I never regretted having you. You’ve always been a blessing to me.’”
Zoe made one, unsuccessful attempt to contact her birth father in her teens but got nothing back.
“It was a huge hurt in my life for so long that I still haven’t really gotten over it yet,” she says. “Rape hurts the kid, too, and not just the woman. But it’s still possible to overcome.”
The rejection added to typical adolescent woes, but she survived them.
Helping was her adoptive father. Zoe says he has always treated her on equal footing with her siblings.
“He has always treated me like his biological daughter,” she says. “We went to daddy-daughter dances and Girl Scouts. He’s never treated me differently. I really commend him for that.”
Zoe and her mother are both actively pro-life and encourage pregnant moms in difficult circumstances to persevere.
“Having a baby alone is very scary, but it’s such a short time in your life that it’s not worth doing something that drastic, something that you have to live with forever,” Nicole says. “You can’t take back an abortion. Ever. It’s so special that I have Zoe in my life, and she’s such a blessing. I don’t regret it. I’ve never regretted it for a day.”
Other moms in similar circumstances to hers, have kept their babies successfully, she points out.
“There are people out there who didn’t choose to have babies, but they still stood up and they took care of them, and raised them to be good, godly people,” Nicole says. “Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean it’s a horrible stigma against you. Sometimes things happen and you just make the best of what you’re dealt.”
Abortion doesn’t solve a woman’s pregnancy predicament, the mother and daughter say, even in the case of rape. It makes it worse.
“One wrong doesn’t right the wrong that has been done to you,” Nicole says. “Having an abortion doesn’t fix the pain and humiliation you feel from the rape. It just magnifies it. Yes, it’s hard to have a baby, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Zoe uses her situation to encourage women to keep their babies in all situations.
“I can say I’m a product of (rape),” she says. “I’m not less of a person because my biological father did a horrible thing. That doesn’t mean I should have to die for that. I don’t think the baby should be killed just because the father was a horrible person.”
*Pseudonyms are used for privacy.