This is a guest post by Stephanie Van Dyk. She is a third year student at the University of British Columbia Freethinkers and member of the UBC Freethinkers.
You might have seen this:
I think nearly everyone would agree it’s absolutely horrendous. It’s rude, it’s sexist, and it’s factually incorrect on nearly every level.
In short, studies show that 60% of rape cases go unreported, rape is (quite obviously) not impossible, measuring false reports is difficult to do but is often found to be near the average for all reported crime, and people are not reducible to their gender roles.
But he has one thing right, something that bothers me but is nevertheless true: Roe vs. Wade began when Jane Roe claimed she falsely claimed she was raped.
This troubles me. Rape is a serious accusation, and I often find myself defending rape victims against people who claim that women fake rape all the time. “They’re trying to bring down a good man,” they’ll often say.
This is not true, but this point about Roe vs. Wade does not help the cause. Is there more to the story?
Of course. Let’s clarify.
Why Did Roe Want an Abortion?
Roe was pregnant with her third child. Her marriage had ended, she was in her early twenties, her first child was living with her mother and her second had been placed for adoption.
Roe decided that she was unable to care for this next child.
Abortion, still mostly illegal throughout the USA, was the best option to her mind.
Why Did She Lie?
Roe had a friend that told her that, in her state, abortion was legal in cases of rape and incest. Roe tried to claim she was raped in order to qualify. This did not succeed – there was no evidence for her claims in the police records. She eventually admitted she made the whole thing up.
In fact, she was unable to procure an abortion and had her child, who was soon adopted.
I do not condone making false accusations of rape. However, I can understand why she tried. In a desperate situation, people do desperate things.
What’s the Big Deal?
In the US, reproductive rights are under attack. There’s a creeping and powerful movement to limit access to abortion. And they’re winning.
Some people try to be reasonable – how about only for incest? rape? very young women? – but this compromise is not helpful.
The lesson from Roe is this: when a woman feels she needs an abortion, she will do what she must to make it happen. She will try to game the system, in ways that are harmful to society, if she must. She will seek help from places that are harmful to her, if she must.
She will take it to the Supreme Court, if she must.
We also know that when abortion is made illegal, abortions do not stop happening. Instead, women die and society suffers.
I’m from Canada, where a woman’s right to choose is between her and her doctor. Society hasn’t fallen apart and, indeed, our abortion rate is lower – 14.1 per 1000 women in 2005, compared to America’s 19.4 per 1000 women in the same year. (2005 is the most recent year statistics are available in Canada.)
We’re sometimes called America Junior – and if we can do it, so can you.
If you are, in fact, concerned about false rape accusations then this is a cause you should get behind. Help us out here. Find out what’s happening where you live, and start calling your politicians.
Students, women, activists and allies – fight the good fight. Dream big. This is an important battle for the USA to win.