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Something the world doesn’t understand

One mother’s commitment to life went beyond exceptions

by Meadow Piepho

Denise Conway, of Revolution BIC Church (Salina, Kans.), used to believe that a pregnancy due to rape was the one exception to her pro-life stance on abortion. But when she found herself in that exact situation 11 years ago, she knew it wasn’t the right decision for her.

Denise was 19 years old and living in Colorado when she was raped by a co-worker. After police arrested the man—who was found to be a carrier of HIV—Densise was relieved to find that she had not contracted the disease. However, she had become pregnant as a result of the attack.

“A lot of people, including my family and the chaplain where I worked, told me that they would understand if I had an abortion,” she says. “At that point, my belief was that abortion was wrong, but I had thought that rape would be the one circumstance where it would be okay. But, when it came down to it, I never even considered it.”

Many factors contributed to Denise’s decision at that time, including a near-death experience she’d had only months before the incident and the fact that she had been told previously that pregnancy would be almost impossible for her to achieve.

Although abortion wasn’t an option for Denise, she did seriously contemplate adoption.

“I really considered giving [my baby] up for adoption in the beginning because I didn’t know if I could raise a child that was conceived that way,” she states. “However, by the time I was five months pregnant, I knew I loved the baby. I had this bond, and I knew that it was meant to be.”

But Denise’s choice didn’t receive support from her family and friends. “Everyone else was telling me something different than what my heart was telling me,” she recalls.

Nor did it help her in court. “The rest of the world doesn’t understand how someone can keep a child conceived in a rape. For instance, it really hurt the legal proceedings that I kept the child,” says Denise, adding that the perpetrator’s lawyers used her decision to keep the baby as a major part of their defense in court.

In the end, the man was convicted of Denise’s rape, as well as that of two
other women, both of whom had tragically contracted HIV from their attacker.

Denise, who now lives and works at the Navajo BIC Mission (Farmington, N.M.), admits that she wasn’t living for God at the time of the rape, but she gives Him the credit for who her daughter, MaHalee, is today.

“Looking back on it now and seeing how far God has brought us has made me realize that there was a plan in all of it and that God is in control,” Denise shares. “I appreciate MaHalee more now than I ever have, and I see how much she has impacted people for Christ.”

And what does MaHalee think of her mother’s decision?

“I’m glad she didn’t have an abortion because if she did, I wouldn’t be able to spread the word of Christ today,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the fall 2009 issue of In Part magazine.
Meadow Piepho

Meadow Piepho spends her days as secretary of Revolution BIC (Salina, Kans.), where her husband, Jeff, is the head pastor. She also runs the church’s HeBrews coffee bar, serves as a graphic designer, and leads the junior high youth group.

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