Kathy Barnette: I am the product of a rape and my life matters

It is never an easy decision to be vulnerable. The fear of rejection. The fear of shame. The fear of hurting the ones you love are all real and powerful hurdles to overcome.

Yet I am reminded of a quote from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the (judgment) that something else is more important than fear.”

This is my something more. This is my story.

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I am the product of a rape. My mother was 12-years old when she delivered me. My father was 21-years old.

I had nothing to do with my genesis. I had nothing to do with the conditions under which I was conceived. I had no control over the circumstances that were swirling around me. I had no opportunity to partake in the cumulative decisions that would be made to sustain the pregnancy. Yet, all the while, I was being fearfully and wonderfully woven together in my young mother’s womb.

My life has value. I am not an inanimate object. I am a person. From me, I’ve given birth to two beautiful, healthy, intelligent, and loving little people who are destined to grow up into productive members of this great society. I am a veteran. I am a staunch lover of this country. I’m a supportive sister, a respectful niece and a devoted wife. Best of all, I get the wonderful opportunity to now care for my mother.

Kathy Barnette with her mother. (Courtesy of the author.)

Kathy Barnette with her mother. (Courtesy of the author.)

My life has value. I have worth that extended beyond the circumstances of my conception. I have multiple degrees. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve spoken before millions. And, I just landed my first book deal with the No. 1 conservative publisher in the nation.

In many aspects, I’ve lived a charmed life. But, it all started with a decision from my mother.

I am eternally grateful to my mom. She had me.

I am forever grateful to my grandma Hattie, who came alongside both my mother and me to provide a safety net for us. I am grateful to my paternal grandparents, who stepped in and assisted my mother in providing for me.

This story is not just about me, however. The story behind every conception, especially as a result of rape, is not just about the child who survived. This story is about my mother, as well – little Mamie Jo.

My birth certificate lists her as merely a “Negro girl.” That tells us nothing about her. My mother is a survivor. She grew up to become a pillar of strength to me and to everyone who crossed her path.

If my story is able to give a voice, a face and a potential future to an unborn child who had nothing to do with his or her genesis, then sharing my story is worth it.

Life has not been a bed of roses for my mother. She has made her fair share of mistakes along the way. There is a pathology that accompanies such a traumatic event.

Yet, as I stand here today, a full-grown woman with a family of my own, I continue to be immensely impressed with my mother. She believed. And she never gave up. She never stopped smiling. She never stopped striving for something better. She refused to be defeated. She refused to be a victim.

Even now I can feel the weight of my mother’s choices. She chose to survive the rape, to endure harsh treatment, to reject the lingering presence of hopelessness and fear.

My mother refused the shame. She did so not because of her circumstances that must have been unbearable. She did so because of the joy that was set before her. She peered into the future and saw me. I am my mother’s joy. And every one of my mother’s decisions concerning my birth had an impact on my life. An impact that will reverberate for all eternity.

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I am not here to judge. Above all else, I want to encourage. If my story is able to encourage one mother who is going through one of the toughest times in her life, then sharing my story is worth it. If my story is able to give a voice, a face and a potential future to an unborn child who had nothing to do with his or her genesis, then sharing my story is worth it.

I’m so grateful for the conversations that are being had all across our nation about the morality behind abortions. Is it right? Is it wrong? Is the woman to be the sole decider of my worth … of her unborn child’s worth? This is a tumultuous terrain any family would have to navigate. There is no easy solution. From my perspective, however, there is a right solution. I’m forever thankful my mother made the right decision.

Kathy Barnette (@Kathy4Truth) is a conservative political commentator and Army veteran who is homeschooling her two children.

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