Rapists, Coat Hangers and Donald Trump

May 15, 2019 update: Today Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, making no exceptions for rape and incest.

2017 – Donald Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order. He was surrounded by men. I saw the headlines, watched the news, and I was overcome with despair.  I’d like to share a story with you. A true story. An experience some people feel is uncommon among girls and women. It’s an experience all too common. Just because women don’t wish to share these stories, for fear of self–righteous, judgmental responses, doesn’t mean these experiences don’t exist. They do.

When I was ten years old, I came home from school and found my 15 year old sister in a bathtub filled with pink water. The blood from her cut wrists mingling with the warm water. I panicked. I freaked out. I dragged her out of the tub, ripped up my t-shirt and bandaged her wrists back together.

She was pregnant. Raped by my father, her stepfather. She would rather die than have this child. She would rather die, than seek help for what had happened to her. And for good reason. If she told anyone, she feared he would kill her. He was certainly capable of it and we both knew it.

The next day, we took the Greyhound bus to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Los Angeles. She told the doctor that she had sex with her boyfriend for the first time and got pregnant. After a 30 minute consultation, they terminated her pregnancy while I stayed in the waiting room.

After that day, we never spoke about what happened. We carried on and lived a life in fear of a sadistic pedophile. If it had been 2 years earlier, my sister would not have had access to a safe and legal abortion. She would have bled to death in that bathtub full of warm water.  Too young, too scared, too damaged to know that there were options.

After reading today’s headlines about Donald Trump restricting access to reproductive choices and about how elated Republicans are to finally have a president that “chooses life”, I felt compelled to respond with something that may actually make people think. How can anyone believe that a woman actually WANTS an abortion? Are you kidding me? I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have an unwanted pregnancy. But I’m one of the lucky ones who’s never had to make that difficult decision.

One in three women have had an abortion. I’m sure none of them were excited about it. But the insensitive gall of someone to sit back in their ivory tower and not only judge others, but fight to make abortion illegal is something I can’t even fathom. It sickens me. Both my sister and my father are dead, and I feel that sharing this experience is something she would have wanted. These are terrifying times for many citizens of our country. We need to fight back. We can’t go back to days of coat hangers, back alley abortions, or slitting our wrists in the bathtub. Abortion is not going away regardless of laws and regulations. Women will find a way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The question is whether they will have to risk their life, or take their life to do it.