Nearly 20 years ago, I was impregnated by a physician co-worker who drugged and raped me. Since I have Asherman’s Syndrome, my OB/GYN told me my body would spontaneous terminate within a few weeks, but as the single spokesperson for one of the Midwest’s largest Catholic hospitals-and already reeling from my attack-I needed to schedule a planned termination. That was my choice and I have never regretted making that decision.
I am one of 25,000 women every year that Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) slammed when he said “legitimate rape” rarely caused pregnancy. I’m one of those who failed to “get cleaned out” with a rape kit as Jodie Laubenberg (R-State Rep.) claimed. And unlike Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Indiana Treasurer & Senate candidate Richard Mourdock boasted, I never believed my pregnancy from rape was a “Gift from God”. As a woman with strong faith, I have never doubted I was blessed to have had the legal choice.
The people closest to me –from my mother to my former boss (a Nun)- have always known my history and I never saw much need in sharing it with others, until so many politicians decided I was one of the millions of women in our nation that should be labeled “Public Enemy #1”. The relentless attack on rape survivors and the attempts to steal a woman’s decision making process over her own body, mobilized me to act and to find the voice I didn’t have 20 years ago.
Today, I am a State Director with UniteWomen.org - a non-profit made up of about 80,000 volunteers, dedicated to equality and to safe guarding women's civil rights. I’m intensely proud of our UnitedAgainstRape Campaign which has garnished national acclaim. We also worked with women's groups from all walks of life for rallies - including one I participated in at the Ohio Statehouse the day our legislature voted for a hideous budget that included provisions taking away our right to choose while also forcing physicians to lie to patients.
Right now, through August 9th, we're encouraging Ohio women to ask OH Gov. John Kasich and Lt Gov. Mary Taylor (and others nationwide to contact their own Governors) for permission before making any decision- any decision at all no matter how trivial. We have to believe these 'leaders' think they control us anyway, why not let them know we "Need Your Permission" (#NYPOH or #NeedYourPermission). We're also creating educational materials, including those to let the younger generation know why the Wire Hanger is being used to symbolize anti-choice.
My grandmother and mother fought for Women's Rights and now, unbelievably, it's my turn to continue this battle. Let's work together to make sure the next generation doesn't have to beg for the rights they were given by our Supreme Court so many decades ago. We have to get involved – use our collective voice. This isn’t a partisan battle – this is a basic human rights issue. 47,000 women die each year from complications from illegal abortions – that’s more than all of our Wars on Terror combined. #waronwomen will end –with your help and your vote.