Children conceived through rape are starting to speak out more on the issue of abortion, adding complexity, depth and nuance to a hot-button issue where the lines are often clearly drawn in the sand.
"There is another side to this very complex issue. There are women who have decided to have their children after becoming impregnated through rape. What about us? We don't count in this argument," says Nicole Wellington.
Nicole Wellington was born to a loving mother who desired nothing but the best for her life. She, like any other child born into a single parent family, questioned from a young age where her absentee father was and who was he. It was not until her teen years that she would be told the truth.
"I remember my mother and I having an argument when I was a teenager. I was acting like any other smart mouth 15-year-old. I think that I blurted out that I wanted to go live with my dad and that is when my mom told me the truth."
Michelle Kinney, Nicole's mother, admits that she never wanted her daughter to find out in that manner that her father raped her mother. She had always wanted to tell her at a time when she thought that her daughter would be able to handle the information.
"I said it in the heat of emotion. My daughter was a very stubborn teenager. At that time I was a single mother trying to deal with life, my own issues and a child. When she said she wanted to go live with her father, it hurt me to my core and that is when I screamed it at her," said Kinney.
Kinney said that she was 17-years-old when she was raped by her cousin's friend. She remembers the event as if it occurred yesterday, telling CP that she was targeted by her attacker. He waited for the right opportunity that came when her cousin left the two of them alone in the house while he walked to the school to pick up his younger sister. She found out that she was pregnant two months later.
The issue of abortion has become a heated debate amongst politicians, female healthcare advocates, and women regarding how much involvement the government should have with concern to a woman's reproductive right.
During last year's race for the Senate, Missouri Republican Todd Akin said women rarely become pregnant in cases of "legitimate rape," and Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock said a pregnancy that results from rape was "something that God intended to happen."
Those comments sparked outrage among female voters ultimately leading to both candidates losing to their opponents in the race for the Senate.
"People have to realize that rape is such a difficult experience to talk about," says Kinney. "It is the highest form of violation. Once the act is done, there is the mental rape that occurs constantly in your mind. When I found out that I was pregnant, I made the choice to have my baby. That choice should not be dictated by anyone other than the person who is going through it."
Although there are not concrete statistics on women who conceive after rape, more women and children who fit into this population are beginning to speak out.
"My mother always showed me love. There was never a separation," explained Wellington. "Society needs to understand that there are women who decide to keep their children fathered by their rapist. This brings such a complex dynamic to the argument for both pro-life and pro-choice groups."
Donna Hillside is a social worker at a Welfare to Work program in Philadelphia. She sees up close that conception from rape is not as rare as people may believe. "It is so unfortunate to see women wrestle not only with the violation but the decision to abort or follow through with the pregnancy. They question if they can love a child that was conceived by such a horrible act or will they take revenge on an innocent life. There are so many factors that they have to consider."
"How can anyone tell another person how to make decisions that will be best for their lives?" exclaimed Kinney. "The conviction to have or not have a child rests in the mind and heart of that one woman. Women's groups and especially the government should not have a voice in the intimate crevices of any woman's mind!"