** This piece ran in both the Herald-Leader and the Courier Journal.
Shortly after my 16th birthday, a man sexually abused me. I was starting my junior year of high school. I knew the man. I liked the man. I trusted the man. He was a pillar of my small town, beloved by all. He was handsome, young, married with two little babies. And what he did was criminal.
This is where I am supposed to tell you if I got pregnant and had an abortion, but I am not going to tell you. I am not going to tell you because it is none of your business.
A woman recently published a letter in The Anderson News falsely claiming that women are having abortions “just because,” including up until it is time to give birth. This is a lie, and it is time we start calling it a lie. Please do not tell me you think so little of women that we will nurture a fetus for six, seven, eight, nine months and decide on a whim we are done. This is ludicrous.
The same letter writer claimed there is a state trying to “pass a law that allows the taking of that baby’s life up to 28 DAYS AFTER birth.” That state is Maryland, and this statement is false.
On September 8, the Courier-Journal reported, “In Kentucky, the two youngest patients to receive an abortion over the past two years were age 9. Under Kentucky law, sexual intercourse with a 9-year-old is considered first-degree rape,” and that “34 girls ages 15 or younger received abortions in 2021, according to state statistics.”
New laws would force these children — babies themselves — to carry a fetus to term.
On August 30, the South Carolina House attempted to pass a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. It failed by only eight votes. A lawmaker argued that if a child was raped by her father, she had choices. All she needed to do, he said, was get her father — her rapist — to give her a ride to Walmart the next day to get the morning-after pill. If he would not take her, she could call an ambulance, he said.
I want you to pause and think about the logistics of this, such an absurd level of insanity I cannot believe I had to write the paragraph.
The other day I ran into a woman at Kroger who asked me a question I had not yet considered. Who, she wanted to know, is going to raise all of the offspring of women addicted to drugs who will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term? And what will it cost taxpayers to pay for their potentially lifelong mental and medical care?
I never told a soul about my sexual abuse when it happened. I was ashamed and somehow thought it was my fault, that I’d asked for it. I finally told my childhood girlfriends 34 years later, the weekend of my 50th birthday. You know what their response was? It was a good thing I’d never told because no one would have believed me. It would have ruined my life, they told me, certain I would have had to leave school, maybe even leave town.
Being a poor kid with a single mom, I wonder how we would have survived.
There seems to be a fantasy today about the number of newborns soon to be available for adoption. This will not happen, and it is childish to think otherwise. People keep babies they do not want for any number of reasons: pressure from family who insist they will help, shame at being seen as someone who would give away a baby, the inability to give away a baby you’ve carried for nine months, and more.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we talk mostly about the effects on girls and women, but I often wonder if men have considered the impact these strict, new anti-abortion laws will have on their own lives.
What will happen to young boys in high school and college who impregnate the girls they are dating? More babies will mean more child support, for one thing, for the next two decades of their lives. And is our court system prepared for the massive influx of cases to ensure mothers get the support they need from reluctant fathers?
An extensive study published in AARP magazine found that 46 percent of men reported cheating on their partners. Again, reality. What if these men impregnate the women they are having affairs with? How will this affect their wives, their children?
Do you believe men are suddenly going to stop having affairs because there is a new anti-abortion law?
I told you my abuser was young and married with two little babies. Imagine his wife, a young mother herself, having to deal not only with her cheating husband, but the publicity in a small town that he had abused a 16 year old child who might now be pregnant and having his baby. How might this have destroyed her life and her children’s lives?
Now multiply this over and over and over and over again, and think about your own 16 year old daughters, your little girls ages 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 …
Our constitutional rights are on the ballot this November. If passed, Kentucky’s Amendment 2 would block the right to abortion, no matter the reason, including rape, incest, and life of the mother. Do we want judges and politicians making the most difficult, life-changing, sometimes shame-filled medical decisions for us and our loved ones? The answer is no.
You have the right to privacy and the right to make your own choices, which are hard enough without government interference.
Their choices — your choices — are nobody’s business. I beg you to vote NO on Kentucky’s Amendment 2 in November.