A Rape Victim's Difficult Decision

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In Colorado Springs and across the country opponents of abortion held protests and rallies on Thursday. It was in observance of the 31st anniversary of the Roe V. Wade court decision regarding abortion.

Members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Old Colorado City marched from their church to the Planned Parenthood clinic just a few blocks away. They prayed for an end to abortion. And they want the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark decision that made abortion legal. "God in God's time will stop this. Slavery was stopped. Abortion will be stopped," said Father Bill Carmody of Sacred Heart Church.

On the other side, representatives of Planned Parenthood say the government should not interfere in such a personal decision. "This issue is and always has been, ‘Who has the right to force a woman
to have a child or have an abortion?’ Clearly no one," said the organization’s spokesperson, Lenox Powell.

Meantime, a Colorado Springs woman who was raped and became pregnant as a result of that violent act is telling her story. Heather Gemmen has written a book about her experience. On Thursday, Heather told her story to her co-workers at Cook Communications in Colorado Springs. She talked about this tragic part of her life, and shared her thoughts about abortion and the Roe V. Wade decision.

"It's the most frightening experience. You don't think it's real. Felt I was separated from myself. This can't be right." The rape happened in 1995 and completely changed the life of Heather Gemmen. But she says, thanks to the grace of God, her story ends with hope.

"I opened my eyes and the man standing in my bedroom was not my husband. It was a stranger," she said. That stranger, who's never been caught, raped Heather in her home at knifepoint. Her husband was away. Her two boys were asleep in another room "More than threatening my life, he threatened my children's lives. That's what scared me the most. ‘You better be quiet. Do as I say or your babies aren't going to make it.’"

She says after the rape she found out she was pregnant. She had three options: Abortion, adoption or keeping the child. She chose to keep her baby girl who's now 8 years old. "We ended up, by the grace of God, falling in love with this child and keeping her and now she's a beautiful part of our family."

But Heather says she can understand why a woman in her position would want an abortion. She struggled with it, too. "I know that's a real legitimate desire when you don't want a child. I can say, it's not an answer."

Through prayer, her church and God, Heather says her family has been able to heal. She hopes she can help other hurting people with her story, which has just been published. "Dare to talk about pain. Feel it. It's real. It hurts. But then have the courage to step from that despair into hope."

Heather Gemmen’s book is called “Startling Beauty.” She will be signing copies of it on Friday, January 23rd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Focus on the Family bookstore.

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Roe v. Wade

About the Ruling

  • It created a new, basic constitutional right for women in the right to privacy that the Supreme Court had created only a few years earlier. That right to privacy was "broad enough to encompass a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy."

  • It authorized no legal restrictions on abortion in the first three months.

  • Abortion was allowed until birth if one licensed physician judged it necessary for the mother’s "health."

  • Declares that states may restrict or ban abortions in the last trimester as the fetus nears the point where it could live outside the womb. In this trimester a woman can obtain an abortion despite any legal ban only if doctors certify it is necessary to save her life or health.

About the Case

  • Jan. 22, 1973, 25-year-old, Norma McCorvey challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas.

  • McCorvey first filed the case in 1969. She was pregnant with her third child and claimed she was raped, but the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth. In 1987, McCorvey announced that her rape testimony was false.

  • In 1973, McCorvey filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: A collection of Web Reports contributed to this report.