I'm working, again, against an abortion ban as a state ballot issue. And again, this one is the abortion ban ballot issue's second time around in as many years.
I'm feeling a curious sort of deja vu here.
Up side: this time, I'm in Colorado, not South Dakota. (No offense to SoDak - you all were fab! But let's be honest here. I'm not a rolling-plains kinda girl.)
Yep. The personhood amendment is back on the ballot in this lovely Rocky Mountain state I can now call my home. Losing by an almost 50-point spread in 2008 (73%-27% was the final count) was, apparently, not enough of a walloping for them. Political strategists, they are most certainly not.
Coloradans don't actually want to ban abortion, and they certainly don't want to ban emergency contraception or in-vitro fertilization or some forms of hormonal birth control. Thus, the 73% of voters who told them "No" last time around. But it's back on the ballot, again, and so we get to fight it again. I look forward to Nov 2nd, when Coloradans (again) tell Personhood Colorado No on 62.
It's a completely ridiculous amendment and painfully extreme, and I'm confident that with a well-executed field and media plan, the No on 62 campaign will have a sweet, sweet victory party on the evening of November 2nd. But the amendment is still a little scary to me. And here's why:
I'm voting no on 62 because I'm a survivor (victim? I still struggle with that label) of childhood sexual & emotional abuse.
I wrote something about this when I was on my way to South Dakota two years ago, and seeing as my past hasn't miraculously changed in these past 2 years, I'll just go the copy-and-paste route (with some minor edits for grammar and to be applicable to Colorado instead of South Dakota):
I’m voting no on amendment 62 because I’m a victim/survivor of childhood sexual & emotional abuse.
I was lucky in that the sexual abuse by my older brother never resulted in pregnancy. I had my first period just a few weeks before the abuse finally ended. I mostly understood how pregnancy worked when I was 13, and so I was completely terrified until I got my period again…more than two very long months later. “Luck” is a warped gauge at this point, but I know I was lucky to not have to deal with a pregnancy as a result of that abuse. But imagine (as I often have) that I wasn't a late bloomer and had gotten my period a year or two earlier. Imagine that the forced intercourse happened more than once, more than that last incident, within that time. And imagine that, at 13, I'd gotten pregnant from the sexual abuse and needed an abortion.
I know exactly what it would have looked like if I lived in a state where this amendment was part of the constitution:
There’s no way I would have told my parents. They already knew the abuse was happening and done nothing, they were already neglectful and abusive, and at 13, I would know that they were not a place I could ever go for support.
So I would have gone by myself to a gynecologist, for the very first time. I would have been terrified to go, but I would have told her that I was afraid I was pregnant. She would have asked me if I was sexually active. My shame would have given me away, I'm sure, and she would have asked if it was consensual. At 13, I would have given a very confused answer, probably admitting that I knew it was gross and probably wrong but that I still thought there was some element of consent, because at 13, I didn't understand coercion, and I certainly didn't connect the word "abuse" with my experience.
If she told me that I was pregnant, I would have desperately tried to get an abortion, by any means necessary. So I’d have to go out of state. How I would pay for it or obtain transportation to and from another state for the procedure, I have no idea, but the last thing that would have been an option would have been to ask my (abusive) parents for help.
And if there was no option to get out of state for a safe, legal abortion, I probably would have looked up some dangerous d.i.y. form of abortion and done it myself. That risk would have been preferable to bearing for 9 months and having a child created by that abuse at the age of 13.
It’s not a matter of the authorities knowing or not knowing about the abuse. I did eventually disclose to a mandatory reporter when I was 15, so it was (or should have been) somehow reported. The state didn’t actually do anything with that information, but that’s another issue entirely. Bearing and having that child would have been devastating to me, as a 13-year-old, as a survivor, and as someone without a reliable family support system. The abuse was awful, of course, but if I had gotten pregnant as a result of that and lived in a state with an abortion ban like this on the books, it would mean that I would have again been denied the control that I’d never had over my body. It would have had nothing to do with protecting women from violence or catching sexual offenders. It would have been completely re-traumatizing, to say the least. And that’s not protection or compassion or justice. That’s just cruel.
The "yes on 62" side will usually respond with one of these arguments: 1) you shouldn't punish the "child" for the crimes of the father, and/or 2) by having abortion accessible to victims of rape and incest, you destroy the evidence and let rapists go free.
I call bullshit.
On both of these.
Argument 1: what about the woman?
Argument 2: what about the woman?
She doesn't really factor into either of these arguments, except as a passive bystander. Why would you force a woman who's already been victimized and had control over her body taken away to again give up that control and go through 9 months of pregnancy because of the crimes of the rapist?
Why would you force a woman who's already been traumatized to go through, again and again, the less-than-perfect and often retraumatizing justice system if that's not a route she chooses to go down?
That's not protection. That's not justice. That's not compassion. That's cruel.
I'll end with a quote from a terrible post from the most anti-choice man I've ever come across. After I posted my story as I was en route to South Dakota in 2008, he posted a very, very personal response. And I know that putting my story out there in public invites responses, and some of the responses are going to be like this, but it still makes my blood boil and my skin crawl. And it reminds me of why I do this work. To try to shut down people like this.
This is his post in response to me. Now, excuse me while I go throw up.
An army of (mainly) angry, confused, hurting and misguided young people are enroute to South Dakota right now to fight the reasonable people here who think abortion shouldn't be available for use as a form of birth control.
This gal, named Jen, is getting on a plane today to come here from Northampton, Massachusetts to work for two weeks with the Campaign for UNHealthy Families. Her blog is curiously misnamed "righteous revolution" which is typical for pro-aborts to call wrong right. This gal is hardly on the side of righteousness or justice. Abortion is a justice issue for the unborn and for women who are lied to and exploited by those who profit from abortion.
But her blogs screams… I'm hurting and I need healing! The subheading is… a raging river of tears cutting a grand canyon of light! That's powerful and sad. It makes me angry at a lot of people in her life. Where is her sick brother today and has he been allowed to abuse other women? She uses the word healing eight times on her homepage. But she's fighting for something that leaves women in far worse shape. In her anger and hurt she's lashing out at the most innocent. It's not right to execute capital punishment on a child for his/her father's crime. If only her anger were channeled in a righteous direction - at those who lie to women to profit from abortion. Join me in targeting this gal in your prayers for these next two weeks that her pain would lead her to the Light and that she'd become what hundreds of thousands of other Roe v Wade survivors have become - a righteous army contending to a higher court on behalf of the plight of the unborn.
I hope you'll read her post in it's entirely because her real story comes out at the end. Read with understanding and compassion because she's hurting and misguided into thinking the best thing for women in these situations is to kill their baby. She needs to talk to my friend Dianne and I can set that up if she's interested. I'll pay for the appointment, as many as she needs.