A Republican Senate candidate has been publicly sharing her personal story as a child conceived in rape as the issue of abortion takes center stage following the release of a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
Kathy Barnette, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, posted a video on her Twitter page Tuesday titled “It wasn’t a choice. It was a life.” A tweet accompanying the video read: “I’m the byproduct of rape. My mother was 11 when I was conceived. In the world the Left desires, I would have never been born.”
In the video, Barnette recalled how after seeing her birth certificate for the first time, she discovered that her mother was just 12 years old when she gave birth to her. “That just really struck a chord in me because I realized just how young my mother was when something so horrible had visited upon her,” an emotional Barnette said. “Even to this day, it’s a very hard word to say but my mother was raped.”
Barnette added that her father, who raped her mother, was 21 years old. Barnette’s mother, Mamie Jo, appears in the ad and described her experience as “devastating” before explaining that her mother told her, “you’re pregnant, so we’re going to get through this.”
“She helped me get through it,” Mamie Jo added. “I don’t want to use the word ‘choice.’ She was going to be born. I didn’t have a choice to say, ‘you’re going to live or I’m going to abort you.’ That wasn’t a choice for me, and I thank God it wasn’t a choice for me.”
Barnette explained that discovering the circumstances that led to her conception gave her “a greater appreciation for my mother” and “helped me to forgive a lot of the mistakes someone at that age, having gone through such trauma, would have made in their own parenting.”
She further maintained that “it definitely made me become very adamant about the sanctity of life, of all life, regardless of their conception, regardless of how they arrived.”
“I am valuable; I’m worthy and my life has purpose,” she added. Barnette lamented that “even among Christians, even among staunch conservatives, an exception to the rule of being pro-life for many is in the case of rape.”
After highlighting her marriage and two children, Barnette proclaimed that “none of this would have happened if the exception to the rule had applied.” Barnette’s mother offered a similar view, opining, “Regardless of how old you are and how the child was conceived, that child deserves a chance.”
“If I hadn’t made that choice, where would I be at right now?” she asked. “Without my daughter.”
Barnette noted that her mother still experiences trauma from her rape, stressing that “the trauma has already been inflicted” and that “the child should not be inflicted with the consequences that squarely belong on the one who inflicted the trauma.” She also declared that “aborting me would not have eased the trauma that my mother suffered. Aborting me would not have allowed me to be in a place today where I can now take care of my mother.”
“I’m eternally grateful that they chose to allow me to be born,” Barnette declared.
Her Twitter post featuring the ad came one day after a draft Supreme Court majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was leaked. In the draft opinion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which created and upheld a right to abortion, respectively, “must be overruled.”
The content of the draft opinion, which is not final, generated outrage among supporters of Roe and pro-abortion advocates. One of the most common arguments against reversing Roe and allowing each state to make its own laws on abortion involves concerns that women who have been raped will have to raise a child against their will. Barnette is not the only child conceived through rape to passionately reject the premise that women should be free to abort their children if they were conceived through rape.
Christian Post columnist Ryan Bomberger identified himself as “the 1 percent used to justify 100 percent of abortions” in a 2019 article. He expressed gratitude that “my biological mother was raped, yet she rejected the violence of abortion,” enabling him to be “adopted and loved instead.” Bomberger echoed Barnette’s analysis on the value of children conceived through rape, signaling support for the “radical notion that we all have equal and irrevocable worth regardless of how our lives began.”
According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls taken of the Pennsylvania Republican Primary, Barnette has the support of 10.8% of Republican primary voters, coming in third behind businessman Dave McCormick and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz. The most recent poll of the race, conducted from April 11–13 by the Trafalgar Group, measured Barnette’s support at 18%, slightly behind Oz and McCormick’s respective support at 23% and 20%.
Before April, most of the polls showed Barnette as one of several candidates with support in the single digits. The primary election for Pennsylvania’s Senate race is scheduled for May 17. Whoever wins the Republican primary will face off against a Democrat in November’s Senate race, most likely Lt. Gov. John Fetterman or Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa. The seat is open, as incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has decided to forego running for re-election.
Barnette previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, seeking to represent Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District. She lost to incumbent Democrat Madeleine Dean by 19 points in a district President Joe Biden carried by 24 points in the 2020 presidential election. If elected to the U.S. Senate, she would become the first African American Republican woman to serve in the chamber.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org