8-November-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Rape victim who refused to abort baby urges openness to life

Five years ago, Veronica Cardona became pregnant at age 16 after being raped by her own father.

However, the young Colombian woman chose to defend the life of her baby and is encouraging women who have endured similar situations to "not be afraid to say yes to life, to say yes to love."

Cardona recently traveled to Ecuador to support a demonstration against the legalization of abortion in cases of rape. She told participants about her experience and how God gave her the strength to continue.

In an interview with EWTN News, Cardona said she felt devastated when she first learned that the rape had left her pregnant.

"It was a huge shock to realize that I was pregnant. I felt right then that my life had been ruined, especially because I know that the baby on the way was the 'product' of being raped by my own father," she said.

She recalled that she became overwhelmed with fear but that she did not want to have an abortion.

"I fell into depression for several days, I did not want to kill an innocent child, but I felt fear, perhaps the same fear that many women experience when they learn they are pregnant."

"I was afraid I could not go on, that people would judge me or feel sorry for me. I was afraid to confront reality and I was afraid of being alone," she said.

"Of course my entire family, the doctors, the judges, everyone, wanted me to get an abortion, and more so because in Colombia abortion had just been legalized in three instances: for rape, fetal deformation and life of the mother," Cardona explained.

However, one day her mother came to her in tears asking for forgiveness, because she herself had considered aborting Cardona before she was born.

"I realized I had no right to take anyone's life, much less that of a defenseless little person, a tiny person who had done nothing to me."

Once she made her decision to continue with the pregnancy, her family refused to speak with her. Only her mother stood by her side.

"Thus the greatest miracle of love began to grow in me. It was an experience that was beautiful, yet hard," she said.

"When I saw the ultrasounds, when I could feel her little kicks inside my womb, and then when I felt her tenderness after she was born, I realized that this was a great miracle of life."

During her pregnancy, Cardona was part of a Catholic community that helped strengthen her decision to "bring life into the world, even if after birth I were to give her up in adoption or keep her myself."

She said that at first, however, she wanted to forget about God.

"I was mad at him because I could not understand how a God so good and so loving could allow this to happen to me, that I had never done anything bad in my life," she continued.

Despite her pain, Cardona found refuge in her faith.

"I asked for strength to carry one, and now I am sure that he was always with me through many tearful days and nights. He was the one encouraging me and lifting me up."

After her daughter Maria Fernanda was born, Cardona felt "empty" and tried to compensate with parties, friends and work, but it wasn't until she went on a retreat that she felt she began to live again.

On that retreat she forgave everyone who had hurt her, including her father. "I realized a lot of things, I felt like I had dignity again. I came back to life!" she recalled.

"I was infuriated, and still am, by the arguments by abortion supporters who hide behind cases like mine to kill the innocent and fill their pockets with money stained by innocent blood, saying that each time you see this child you are going to remember that awful moment when you were raped," Cardona said.

"I feel the enormous need to scream the truth to the world, which is that a child will never remind you of the circumstances, because he or she is an absolutely different person. On the contrary, that child will help you heal your wounds, give you joy and meaning to your existence," she explained.

"I say so because of my own experience and not like the promoters of abortion who have no idea what they are talking about because they have never gone through it, because most of those who support abortion have never actually had one," she said.

"They don't care as much about women as they pretend to. If they truly cared, they would not push abortion and instead would help women continue on with their babies," she said.

"Abortion doesn't make anybody un-pregnant. Killing is not an option, it is the worst decision," Cardona said.

"By the grace of God I was able to forgive my father, look him in the eyes and thank him for giving me life," she said.

While her child, who is now five years old, "does not yet know about everything that happened," Cardona said she plans to tell her slowly over time. "She has the right to know the truth."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=6502#ixzz2C2klNlMP

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