Canadian Patti Harrison was only 14 when she was brutally gang-raped by multiple men and was beaten and held captive in a basement for several days. Harrison recently told her story at an event sponsored by the pro-life clubs Mac Lifeline and Queen’s Alive.
Harrison was so depressed after her ordeal that she attempted suicide and ended up in the emergency room. It was there that she found out she was pregnant. Soon after her pregnancy was discovered, she turned 15.
Many in her family wanted her to abort, partly because her assailants were Black, and the child was biracial. According to Harrison, “My dad’s father said that if I didn’t have an abortion I’d be disowned.” In fact, one of the things Harrison said was hardest about choosing life was that “[m]y grandpa and I were super close when I was a kid…” and it was difficult “knowing that I wasn’t going to have that kind of relationship with my grandfather anymore.”
Harrison’s grandfather did disown her, and to this day — 25 years later — she doesn’t speak to many relatives on her father’s side of the family. These relatives judged her as a “bad influence” for giving birth to her son.
But Harrison’s parents, after the initial shock, supported her choice to have the baby. Her mother took her to Rose of Durham, a home for young pregnant mothers. Harrison said:
They gave me the courage to go through the pregnancy after each doctor that I had seen for my ultrasounds and my bloodwork told me that I should have an abortion, that my son was going to be deformed, that he wasn’t going to be healthy, that he wouldn’t make it to birth, that I was only 15 years old and I had my whole life ahead of me – they gave me every excuse not to keep him, but not one to keep him.
Harrison’s doctors told her her baby would be horribly disabled:
[The doctors told me] his spine wasn’t attached to the back of his neck, that his internal organs weren’t developing right, that me keeping the pregnancy was just cruel. I did think for one second, would he be better off if I just had an abortion. Then, right away, something inside of me, every ounce of my being was screaming, no. No. He’s gonna be just fine.…
They didn’t let anyone go into the ultrasound with me. They always made me go in by myself. And the doctors weren’t very nice.
She said her son, Austin, was born “7 lbs. 14 oz., perfectly healthy.” Today, Harrison wonders if the doctors were lying to her to convince her to abort. They pushed her very hard to have an abortion.
Was it difficult raising my rapist’s baby? At first it was, because that’s all I could see; I couldn’t get past what happened to me.
[But] once I saw the sonograms and once I started to feel him move inside of me, and once I gave birth, all that basically went away. Because just the feeling of love that sweeps over you – it just was remarkable.
Austin is now 25 and she has no regrets about having him. She doesn’t believe abortion would’ve helped her:
[I] don’t think for one second aborting him would’ve done me any good. Because it wouldn’t have stopped the fact that I had been raped, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that I was only a young teenager, it wouldn’t have changed anything.
Strongly pro-life, she challenges the pro-abortion narrative that abortion should be legal in cases of rape:
My message to girls out there and people who say, what if she’s raped, or what if it’s incest or what if it’s something unspeakable – well you know what? The baby doesn’t deserve the death penalty for something somebody else did…
It baffles my mind that we… can just cancel the life of a child because it’s inconvenient for us at the time. And that’s what people were trying to get me to do. Use the fact that I was raped, and use all those horrible, terrible things that happened to me to scare me into deleting a part of my life that— he’s so amazing.
Being a mom as a teenager isn’t easy… But it’s so amazing at the same time. Because you’ve got this perfect example of God’s love for you. You’ve got innocence and purity and everything, everything good about yourself staring up into your face… His love for me healed me so quickly…
[Pro-choicers say] it’s cruel and unusual punishment to make me raise my rapist’s baby. It’s not though.
To other women pregnant through rape, she says, “That baby is half you. You don’t have to think of the baby as your rapist’s baby.” She encourages them to make the same choice she did – a choice for life. Today, Harrison tells her story to change hearts and minds on abortion.
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