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Raped, Pregnant and 11 Years Old: The Problem with the “Right-to-Life” Movement

| September 5, 2012

abortion rape or incest

When they could fit the mother, or the child. (Marie Smith)

By Mary Jo Melone

Gregory Johns had allegedly committed an unimaginable and depraved act.

The Pinellas County sheriff said the 42-year-old man had raped his girlfriend’s daughter. The girl became pregnant.

She is eleven.

Somehow, this child was unable to “shut that whole thing down,” as Missouri’s Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin famously said last month.

What does he and the right-to-lifers and Tea Partiers who still support him believe? That this child is supposed to make lemonade out of a lemon? Surely, their moral compass points them in the direction of compassion in this case.

Or does it?

florida voices columnists flaglerlive

To borrow from Akin, this is a legitimate question. The Republican Party has long relied on the votes of abortion extremists. This is partly why Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. Now that he has the vice-presidency in his sights, he is deferring to Romney’s more moderate stance—he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest and threats to a mother’s life. At the same time, however, Ryan says he is proud of his record on abortion. He believes in so-called personhood, that life begins at the moment of conception. The GOP platform calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortion; the platform never mentions exceptions, even for 11-year-olds.

This is the problem with the so-called right-to-life movement. It has no real regard for life and its tragedies and complexities: for rape and incest victims of all ages, for teenagers who make mistakes, for women, single and married, who are without the resources, financial or emotional, required to raise a child, or whose contraception failed.

I am still waiting to meet a woman who regards a decision to have an abortion as breezily as a decision to go to the mall for a pair of heels. This is the other problem with the so-called right-to-life movement: it regards women as moral cretins, not just in terms of sexual behavior, but character as well.

And this is the problem with the GOP: for the sake of political advantage, the party feeds off this cruel thinking.

There’s no doubt that this 40-year-long fight over abortion has exhausted us. Decent people can certainly disagree, but it is impossible to reason with people who believe they and they alone occupy the moral high ground, especially when God has told them so. But now and then, pesky reality intrudes and the complexity of abortion is revealed. What provision for a child would a constitutional amendment banning abortion make?

Gregory Johns disappeared in June, after he learned his girlfriend’s daughter was pregnant. According to investigators, he told his girlfriend he was sorry, but it fell to two Pinellas deputies to serve up some rough justice. When they confronted him in a Treasure Island motel last Saturday, he pulled a knife and threatened to kill them. The deputies fired. So far, in public at least, no one has wept for him.

Mary Jo Melone, former columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, is a writer in Tampa.

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45 Responses for “Raped, Pregnant and 11 Years Old: The Problem with the “Right-to-Life” Movement”

  1. Wendy McLane says:

    Love the rough justice served up in the end … good article.

    • pamala zill says:

      Wendy..I feel as you do. Still how is this little girl to find the strength and hope. Who is helping her? A nightmare. Epitomizes the heartache I have witnessed firsthand in FLORIDA!

  2. Lonewolf says:

    Excellent article. Why is it men like to make this decision for women?

    • Samuel Smith says:

      1 Timothy 2:11-15:

      “11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (NIV translation)

      So, there’s the justification for patriarchy, but some women in leadership roles within the GOP buy into this crap as well, just look at Bachmann.

  3. Samuel Smith says:

    The fact that at least a few elected officials think that forcing a 11 year old to carry a pregnancy to term is a defensible act is exhibit 1 as to what’s wrong with the GOP and the tea party.

  4. Kitty says:

    My father raped my mother. What does that have to do with me? I am not property. The Dred Scott decision was overturned.

  5. JL says:

    Because there are Republicans who feel this way is one of many reasons they are out of touch with reality today. And a reason I will not be voting Republican in the presidential election this year for the first time. I am tired of them preaching such right wing views. They no longer fit in our society.

    I believe abortion should be left up to the woman. Men should not have a say in it until they are able to carry the pregnancy themselves.

    • Rick says:

      So, I see both sides, but my question is, who speaks up for the babies, regardless of how they were conceived? Are they any less important than our children?

  6. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    This article is absolutely absurd, not because of what happened to this poor little girl, but because the author and the left constantly try to use extreme tragedies like this to justify wholesale abortion. The two are in no way related.

    Are there right wing nut jobs that would try to force this poor girl to have this baby, sure. But those extremists are even more rare than the circumstances outlined in this tragedy. 99.9% of all Americans would not support outlawing abortion in cases like this. However this past year there were 1.21 million abortions committed in this country, and less than a hand full of those 1.21 million fall into circumstances similar to this tragedy.
    The real extremists are the ones that use horrible tragedies like this, extremely small in number, to justify wholesale abortion, when the simple truth is that you could write a whole host of exceptions allowing for abortions in cases of rape, incest, mother’s health, any other tragic circumstance you could come up with, and the abortion extremists will still demand wholesale abortion. Which is why, this article has no relevance whatsoever in the abortion debate.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      “I am still waiting to meet a woman who regards a decision to have an abortion as breezily as a decision to go to the mall for a pair of heels. This is the other problem with the so-called right-to-life movement: it regards women as moral cretins, not just in terms of sexual behavior, but character as well.”

      How you go from that line to claiming that “the author and the left constantly try to use extreme tragedies like this to justify wholesale abortion” perfectly illustrates how the right mis-characterizes the issue with intellectually dishonest battalions of straw men.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        It’s an extremely easy step to make, because it’s obvious from the article. “the platform never mentions exceptions, even for 11-year-olds.” The real Intellectual dishonesty is framing the abortion debate based on the .001% of abortions that fit these exceptions, rather than the 99.99% that don’t.

      • Clint says:

        Moral cretins for wanting a child to “LIVE” ! You want to talk about a problem..Lets talk about the muslim population and how their barbaric cult sees women. And you won’t find a muslim woman having an abortion because she would be be-headed. But I see the muslim population expanding.
        America’s population has DECLINED in terms of newborns ever since the “womens movement” began.

    • Samuel Smith says:

      How many children have you adopted?

  7. Darla Marie Beck says:

    Great article.

  8. just the facts says:

    What is very disturbing is that the question about abortion choice or right to life takes center stage in this article. The act itself should be what people raise an uproar about. Why are these stories so frequent? If we are truly evolving as many believe, why are these horrific crimes still happening? The problem is not abortion legislation, that’s simply a distraction of the real issue which is moral relativism and a complete disregard and aggression towards any type of Godly fear or convictions.

  9. LW says:

    You all realize that the Senator apologized, he was misinformed as he had read some old medical files on the issue, the doctors who wrote them had stated that women had a way to shut down the reproductive system in that case, they were obiviously wrong, and if you research a political candidate you’d find Romney supports abortion in the case of rape, incest, and possible harm to the mother. Now one of the biggest issues that many citizens who are republican have is that the abortion clinics are funded by taxes, many do not agree, even many of the Democrats I know don’t believe thats right. and as for the situation in the article, I find that an abortion is perfectly acceptable, in the case of rape it’s acceptable, however if theres a young woman who is “well known” by the male population around her the taxpayers shouldn’t have to shell out for her bad choices.

  10. Kitty says:

    “mis-characterizes the issue with intellectually dishonest battalions of straw men. ”

    What is the issue, abortion? rape? suffering by a young girl?

    The article mis characterizes the real tragedy that unborn children are regarded as property by the law so that others may butcher them in the womb for any morally relative reason that feels good at the time.

    The unborn are human beings apart from their parents.

    My father raped my mother at a very young age and she got pregnant. I was born out of this travesty because someone recognized my right to live no matter what my rapist father had done, no matter how much my mother suffered, and no matter what any straw men thought. What is more important than life lest we fall further into the same traditions as all the other barbaric societies that practiced abortion and infanticide.

  11. JL says:

    LW – you thinks ok now that the Senator apologized? Any person with half a brain would NOT have made those absurd comments. Of course, if you had half a brain, you would know how stupid the comments sounded and would have asked someone, please check this fact. His comments just showed how incredibly ignorant he was, so whether he apologizes or not, that he would say what he did in the first place is appalling.

    Abortion should still be up to the individual woman who finds herself pregnant and is not ready, willing or able to carry the baby full term, for whatever reason. I agree the federal government should not bear the expense to abort a baby that is conceived because of pure accident. Unfortunately, the Republicans get in the way of writing a bill that would clearly differentiate this. And as far as abortion being something that God does not approve of, let that be between God and the sinner. Not us.

  12. pamala zill says:

    Hey LV, this article is about a little girl who was RAPED! Get real. I as a woman have the right to enjoy my body. Men do. Who and what are these pricks in the male population you speak of?? Pimps? Pedophilles? Misogynist. Losers?? Please elaborate. We all would like to know so we can protect ourselves and adhere to higher values. Without being decieved used and abused.

    To Kitty, your Mother chose to keep you. Women must have the right to choose.You are not responsible for your father’s actions. Take care.

    To Johnny Taxpayer, I am so glad you are willing to pay for all these children and provide education and mentoring and so on and on.

  13. Karma says:

    Would someone tell me who can overturn Roe V Wade?

  14. crzy2sew says:

    Great article. Abortion WILL continue to happen whether it’s legal or illegal. It’s also very scary what Romney will do with Planned Parenthood. Abortion is a CHOICE, a decision made by a woman whether it by right or wrong…IT’S A CHOICE…. this is what my daughter has to saw about it ***** With all of the research and reading in politics I have been doing, I have come to the conclusion that politicians might as well give me a PAP smear while they are discussing my vagina rights in such depth.******

    • MSFB says:

      Abortion is LEGAL. It was challenged by ROE VS WADE. It can only be overturned if the Supreme Court overturns their own decision. I seriously don’t understand why this is an issue, ABORTION IS THE LAW OF THE LAND and is a NON ISSUE!

  15. Kitty says:

    “To Kitty, your Mother chose to keep you. Women must have the right to choose.You are not responsible for your father’s actions. Take care. ”

    No, she didn’t choose to do anything. She was told by her mother that killing me was murder. Like you or any other normal person she could not violate that law against any other human being. Why is it that I might have been considered less than a person? Why is it that I didn’t have the right to live once I was conceived? Why is it OK to murder a helpless human being?

    BY LAW we are forced daily to respect the right of others to life. Why not me when I wasn’t born yet?

  16. Dorothea says:

    Abortion is an issue that needs to be decided by the pregnant woman and her doctor. It is a very private decision, not a government decision. As for religion, there are many religious doctrines on the subject which vary depending on one’s religious beliefs. If your religious beliefs are that abortion is forbidden, than by all means don’t have one. The government and every one of you naysayers have no right to intrude on an individual’s private medical decisions and should not even be asking the question, “WHY?” whether it is an eleven year old rape victim or a 30 year old married woman who was impregnated by her husband. Roe vs. Wade assures woman that they have this right in the first trimester. I agree with this decision.

  17. Karma says:

    Thank You MSFB

  18. Kitty says:

    Abortion is an issue that needs to be decided by the pregnant woman and her doctor. It is a very private decision, not a government decision.

    Abortion needs to be decided by rational people who understand that if my mother is raped and she conceives, then I have a right to live just like anyone else. To say that this is a private decision is like saying; “Lets keep this private, I am going down this street and kill [murder] these people just because they happen to exist at a time and under a set of circumstances where I don’t want them to live any longer”

    It doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do and it doesn’t matter who they are, it just matters that I want them gone. That’s what this debate is about. that’s what this country does to tens of millions of defenseless human beings. We are worse than Hitler and Stalin combined.

  19. JP says:

    Religion makes you stupid…of course they believe a woman can shut downs a rape baby….they believe an 800 year old man built in ark and collected the worlds animals, and a virgin was impregnated by an angel. Stop electing stupid people. If you dont believe in facts, science, and evolution, you are not fit to lead educated people!!

  20. Dorothea says:


    I am sorry for what your mother had to endure. In another era, and I don’t know how old you are, a pregnant child had to leave school and either hide at home or at an institution for unwed mothers. We don’t know how your well your mother handled her pregnancy since you don’t say much about her plight. Hopefully, she came out of it a stronger woman and with few scars. However, your story is one of many.

    Take for instance a poor woman who is raped, conceives by this rape, and is unable to obtain an abortion. She has two children at home and knows that she will not be able to raise a biracial child in a white family. At the time when abortion was unavaible, this woman would have faced the scorn and derision of an unaccepting society. Wealthier woman could fly off to another country and obtain the abortion she could not afford. So not only is she severely affected, not only is she traumatized by the rape, but her entire family, including her small children who have no understanding of why their mother is hiding and crying in her bedroom, and neglecting their every need. But that is another individual story, and one that actually happened. The child was given to a family where she would be accepted and never even knew that she was unofficially adopted. However, her mother and half siblings carried the scars throughout their lives.

    Your story and mine are just two of minions. That’s why abortion should be a private decision and not a decision that the government, you, or anyone else interferes in.

  21. Kitty says:

    “Your story and mine are just two of minions. That’s why abortion should be a private decision and not a decision that the government, you, or anyone else interferes in. ”

    80 million abortions since Roe vs Wade and all you have to say is this should be a private decision to kill the unborn child? Would you get rid of a biracial human being incapable of defending themselves because you are white? Would you kill your infant children because there are already two children home or that wealthier women could?

    What happens to you in a society that no longer recognizes your right to live because of any of the “reasons” you give for ending a person’s life.?

  22. Dorothea says:


    I don’t believe that a zygote is a person nor does my religion recognize that a zygote is a person. But I will no longer engage in this discussion as I understand why our disagreement would have an emotionally upsetting impact.

  23. ryan says:

    It does not say whether her the 11 year old was given the morning after pill or not, or if her mother is going to take the risk of the 11 year old’s life is at risk by giving birth. This could kill such a small child and she will have back, hip, organ displacement, and other problems caused from not being able to properly grow. The 11 year old taking a pill is not the same thing as stabbing someone to death, and this is the kind of thing that gives Christians a bad name and image. True Christianity is about compassion and forgiveness, and kindly supporting the child, not calling her a murderer for taking a pill. This has been a twisted intrepretation of murder for some time now.

  24. ryan says:

    I also think that it was ignorant for the author to not mention whether the child has to have the baby or not.

  25. Ridiculous says:

    I think abortion should be outlawed…That way we can bring more unwanted children into this world and further rely on the government to support those “parents” who cannot support themselves let alone their children. Does anyone else see where this is going and just how ridiculous it sounds?

  26. John Boy says:

    Rack this one up for sanity. Life long registered Republican who will vote for every Democrat on the ballot. The Republicans have been taken over by radicals and lost total sight of reality. Probably the worst list of candidates in our countries history.

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      Life long Republican eh? But yet you’re just now realizing the Republican party platform is pro-life? To quote Captain O’Hagan in SuperTroopers, “I’ll believe ya when my shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet”.

  27. Karma says:

    The law will not be changed by today’s Supreme Court nor will it get 3 quarters majority of the states vote. There is no “war on woman” as this administration wants you to believe. But there is definitely a “War on Religion” in this country. What happened last Wednesday night during the DNC was proof of that. To force a vote(did not get 2/3 vote but still passed) to allow the word GOD back in your platform should say a lot. How can someone who attends church support this party? I was taught to attend church to praise god, not to reject him.

  28. Dorothea says:


    The members of the Democratic Platform Committee were not rejecting god, but respecting the many different gods who are worshipped or not worshipped by the citizens of the United States. We are a country that allows not only freedom of religion, but freedom from religion if we so choose. Considering that the Republican National Committee actually did place in their platform the rights of a two celled zygote to live, even if its presence in the uterus of the mother would kill her, I find the DNC’s proposed change far more godly.

  29. Kitty says:

    “I don’t believe that a zygote is a person nor does my religion recognize that a zygote is a person. But I will no longer engage in this discussion as I understand why our disagreement would have an emotionally upsetting impact. ”

    If a zygote is not a human being that is at the earliest stages of development, what else could it possibly be? Fact is, I am still developing at my age and will continue to do so until I die. I have a right not to be discriminated against due to my age or my development as a human being.

    Your view is that a zygote is less than a human being, therefore it is property to be used and disposed of as garbage once you are done with it. Sorry, it’s murder because you kill me if you kill the zygote when I am at that stage.

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