I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama's abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.

  
Via:  tessylo  •  2 months ago  •  14 comments

I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama's abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama's abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.



b24e5cc0-fa39-11e8-bff6-c983281f3f32 Shannon Dingle,USA TODAY Opinion 16 hours ago 
















Alabama abortion bill passes state Senate, up for governor approval








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I was that 11-year-old pregnant by rape in Ohio, except I had just turned 12 and lived in Florida. There will be more children like us, including in Alabama when its near-total abortion ban, which doesn't include exceptions to rape victims, goes into effect.

Police reports tell the little girl's story: 26-year-old rapist, raped multiple times, pregnant but wouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion under a new Ohio law going into effect this July.

News commentators tell her story: some as an example, some as a detractor, some with more concern for their political message than her painful realities.

Twitter is debating her story: her age, her worth, her rapist, her pregnancy, her baby, her fetus, her rights, its rights.

She is 11. She has experienced and is experiencing violating trauma. Maybe someday she will tell her story, but today is not that day.

I can tell my story, though. I was newly 12. I lived in a suburb of Tampa. I had gotten my period a couple years before, and it came regularly once it started. I knew to expect it every 32 days.

An underage rape victim out of options


It was July, the summer between sixth and seventh grade, when days 33, 34, 35 and more passed with no period. I had read in one of my sister’s Seventeen magazines that periods aren’t always regular, so I figured this was my first one of those.

It wasn’t.

Read more commentary:

'Heartbeat bills' reveal extremist anti-abortion view that values unborn over women

Pro-life friends supported our children’s adoptions. But they balk at policies keeping them alive.

I had a later abortion because I couldn't give my baby girl both life and peace

When I was two weeks late, I threw up for the first time. I was confused initially, because it didn’t feel like my experiences with stomach bugs or bulimia.

Then I remembered when Becky from "Full House" had been sick and pregnant with their twins. I did the math. Then I walked a mile-and-a-half to the store, lied to the clerk about needing to get one for my mom, stuck the bag in my fanny pack and began the walk home. Once I got to a familiar grove of trees, I walked in deep, smacking at mosquitoes along the way, until I knew it was safe. I took off my sandals and shorts and underwear, the kid kind with some cartoonish character on them. I read the instructions in detail, three times.

Then I took the test, put on my clothes again and climbed a tree, test in pocket, to wait for the answer. While I waited, I picked at my skinned knee until it started bleeding.

As soon as I saw the results, I scrambled back down the tree to double-check the box. The results were clear. I was six weeks pregnant, and seventh grade was starting at the end of the month.


I’ve left out a key detail. I never chose to have sex at such a young age, but abusers in my family chose to rape me. I had lost count of the number of times by then. With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff’s office, I didn’t trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere, either.

But I felt like this pregnancy brought hope, so much so that I named the baby inside me Hope. I was sure Hope’s existence would bring about change. No one could deny my abuse with genetic proof. I thought my parents would make me quietly get an abortion if I told them, so I didn’t. I carried Hope and secrets into seventh grade.

Little girls shouldn't have full wombs


I’m not going to share the sacred details of when my hope and my Hope died a couple months later, as I had a miscarriage before I knew what one was. But I thought about those moments when I read about the 11-year-old girl in Ohio. She can’t tell her story, so I’m telling mine.

I need you to know that any child’s pregnancy is the result of rape, because no child can consent to sex. I need you to know that any child’s pregnancy is traumatic, no matter the outcome, because little girls aren’t supposed to have full wombs. I need you to know that I didn’t know I had options, because I knew girls who got pregnant were called sluts and girls who had abortions were called murderers.

And I need you to know that if I had lived under the Ohio law recently passed, I would have been too late to consider abortion by the time I realized I was pregnant. And if I had lived under the Alabama bill likely to be signed into law, being a repeated rape victim wouldn't given me any options.

If my life were in imminent danger, the Ohio law would permit a later abortion, but being gangly and pregnant at age 12 isn't a life risk.

I know responses to my story will include ones about how what happened to me is rare. I’m the exception, not the norm, they’ll say.

But I need you to know that every story is unique. Every discussion of abortion between a woman and her doctor is different. Something that might put one mother’s life or health at risk might not be a problem for someone else.

This is why abortion can’t be dictated by legislators. This is why abortion decisions must be made individually, between a woman and her doctor.

That Ohio girl’s story is being used as a prop in political discourse, but abortion rights matter because she isn’t an object. She is a person, same as me when I was 12 and pregnant.

Our humanity matters, in both debates and legislation.

Shannon Dingle is a mother of six and a writer working on her first book, "Living Brave," with HarperOne. Follow her on Twitter @shannondingle



You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on theOpinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.



This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama's abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.



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Tessylo
1  seeder  Tessylo    2 months ago

'I’ve left out a key detail. I never chose to have sex at such a young age, but abusers in my family chose to rape me. I had lost count of the number of times by then. With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff’s office, I didn’t trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere, either.

But I felt like this pregnancy brought hope, so much so that I named the baby inside me Hope. I was sure Hope’s existence would bring about change. No one could deny my abuse with genetic proof. I thought my parents would make me quietly get an abortion if I told them, so I didn’t. I carried Hope and secrets into seventh grade.'

 
 
 
Tessylo
2  seeder  Tessylo    2 months ago

'I’m not going to share the sacred details of when my hope and my Hope died a couple months later, as I had a miscarriage before I knew what one was. But I thought about those moments when I read about the 11-year-old girl in Ohio. She can’t tell her story, so I’m telling mine.

I need you to know that any child’s pregnancy is the result of rape, because no child can consent to sex. I need you to know that any child’s pregnancy is traumatic, no matter the outcome, because little girls aren’t supposed to have full wombs. I need you to know that I didn’t know I had options, because I knew girls who got pregnant were called sluts and girls who had abortions were called murderers.

And I need you to know that if I had lived under the Ohio law recently passed, I would have been too late to consider abortion by the time I realized I was pregnant. And if I had lived under the Alabama bill likely to be signed into law, being a repeated rape victim wouldn't given me any options.

If my life were in imminent danger, the Ohio law would permit a later abortion, but being gangly and pregnant at age 12 isn't a life risk.

I know responses to my story will include ones about how what happened to me is rare. I’m the exception, not the norm, they’ll say.

But I need you to know that every story is unique. Every discussion of abortion between a woman and her doctor is different. Something that might put one mother’s life or health at risk might not be a problem for someone else.

This is why abortion can’t be dictated by legislators. This is why abortion decisions must be made individually, between a woman and her doctor.

That Ohio girl’s story is being used as a prop in political discourse, but abortion rights matter because she isn’t an object. She is a person, same as me when I was 12 and pregnant.

Our humanity matters, in both debates and legislation.'

 
 
 
Veronica
3  Veronica    2 months ago

This makes me cry.  I know the pain of being abused.  I know the fear of being a pregnant teen.  No child should have to go through any of this.  No woman should have to go through any of this.  A woman's reasons for terminating a pregnancy should not be a debate or a classroom discussion.  It should be a private time between her & her doctor & whomever SHE DECIDES to include in the decision.  

 
 
 
r.t..b...
3.1  r.t..b...  replied to  Veronica @3    2 months ago
A woman's reasons for terminating a pregnancy should not be a debate or a classroom discussion.

I find it odd that the caveat always added is 'unless the mother's health is at risk', while totally dismissing the mental health considerations. While by and large, the same cabal blames our murder by gun crisis as mainly a mental health problem. Not to muddy the waters any further, just an observation on how views can be skewed depending on the issue at hand and how they can be manipulated to further an agenda. Peace.

 
 
 
Sunshine
4  Sunshine    2 months ago
I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama's abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.

The author must not know that the bill was changed...

https://www.al.com/news/2019/05/alabama-abortion-ban-to-get-key-committee-vote-today.html

The committee adopted an amendment to allow abortions in cases of pregnancies caused by rape or incest. The amendment, by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, was adopted on a voice vote.
 
 
 
Tessylo
4.1  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Sunshine @4    2 months ago

On Wednesday, the governor of Alabama signed a bill banning almost all abortions, 'xcept in instances where there is a "serious health risk" to the mother. This came one day after the state Senate passed the bill on Tuesday 25-6. It is now set to take effect in six months.

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.2  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Sunshine @4    2 months ago

That was on May 8th.

 
 
 
Sunshine
4.2.1  Sunshine  replied to  Tessylo @4.2    2 months ago

Ok thanks, I was not aware that had been removed later.

That is very sad and heartless to remove rape and incest.

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.2.2  seeder  Tessylo  replied to  Sunshine @4.2.1    2 months ago

I didn't mean to delete the comment about the last minute amendment - it does not allow for rape or incest.  

The legislation makes abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy, with the only exception for a serious threat to the health of the woman.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
4.2.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  Sunshine @4.2.1    2 months ago
That is very sad and heartless to remove rape and incest.

And as such it was entirely predictable. The GOP tends to go out of its way to make things as painful as possible for the targeted group. 

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
5  Colour Me Free    2 months ago
I was that 11-year-old pregnant by rape in Ohio, except I had just turned 12 and lived in Florida. There will be more children like us, including in Alabama when its near-total abortion ban, which doesn't include exceptions to rape victims, goes into effect.

The Alabama 'law' is not enforceable, it is unconstitutionally, written as a challenge to the Supreme Court .. yet, the Court is not required to take said case .. thus making the ink on said 'law' paper weight.. 

The sky is not falling .. we know that Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Thomas would most likely move in favor of more abortion restrictions .. but the other conservative justices may not see the legality of abortion as black and white [for or against] but a subject that has far more gray areas that need addressed....  just my thoughts

 
 
 
Tessylo
6  seeder  Tessylo    2 months ago

‘I think we raped women last night’, says Alabama Democrat as abortion bill passes

65352920-ded2-11e6-8b0a-2fe0a36835e8_200 Olivia Petter,The Independent 6 hours ago 

After Alabama’s state senate voted to pass the strictest abortion law in the US on Tuesday, virtually outlawing the procedure in every instance, one Democratic senator spoke powerfully about the implications of the decision, saying “I think we raped women last night”.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday morning, Senate minority leader Bobby Singleton described the bill as “horrible” and urged the Republicans who voted in favour of it to go home to their wives, daughters and sisters and “look them in the face to say what they did”.

Singleton went on to speak about a hypothetical scenario in which his daughter was raped and, under the new laws, would have to tell her to carry the baby for nine months “and look that rapist in the face for the rest of her life”.

“I just couldn’t take it as a father,” he said, “so I had to speak up for women all over the country, for women in the state of Alabama, because this was just wrong.”

Singleton delivered a powerful speech the previous evening in the Senate chamber of Alabama’s State House as the lawmakers prepared to pass the bill.

The senator, who has two daughters aged nine and 10, held back tears as he told the chamber, “What you just said to my little girl is that ‘It’s okay for a man to rape you, and you got to have his baby if you get pregnant”.

“You just said to my daughter, ‘you don’t matter. That the state of Alabama don’t care nothing about you, baby’.

"I got to go home and tell her that ‘you can just be raped by one of your uncles or your cousins, or somebody could just rape you and impregnate you, and you got to carry this baby under Alabama law. Because baby, if you have this abortion, this doctor is going to go to jail for 99 years’.”

On Wednesday, the governor of Alabama signed a bill banning almost all abortions, except in instances where there is a "serious health risk" to the mother. This came one day after the state Senate passed the bill on Tuesday 25-6. It is now set to take effect in six months.

A number of female celebrities have spoken out in light of the news, including Jameela Jamil, Milla Jovocich and, most recently, Lady Gaga, who described the ban as an "outrage" on Twitter.

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CB
7  CB     2 months ago

'Rue the day' yet independents, democrats, and republicans who accept a woman's right to choose? Odd, the image in the window for this article. I feel that I have seen this sign and heard its never-ending debate all my life!

Well, as expected and explained, the CONSERVATIVES are using the power vested in the presidency and "stacked" courts to 'make it look like it never happened.' This action starkly makes it plain: Such people will never let this country alone to find peace with all its societal groups. 

This should give new (or true) meaning to why electoral college votes were steered toward Trump's direction in spite of his insincerity and inappropriateness as a presidential candidate. He has been hired by conservatives to do a 'hit job' on every long-standing policy democrats have brought about in our country.

If a thing was not in the constitution originally, and in some conservative circles up to the first ten amendments in the document, most conservatives consider the thing negotiable and when and where possible erasable

So watch out interracial marriage (looking at you Justice Thomas), watch out women's right to vote, watch out birthright citizenship, and watch out (especially) newly minted same-sex marriages! After abortion's 'day in court' one or several of you are "up"!

Conservatism - it never just forgives and forget!

 
 
 
luther28
8  luther28    2 months ago
The Alabama 'law' is not enforceable, it is unconstitutionally, written as a challenge to the Supreme Court .. yet, the Court is not required to take said case .. thus making the ink on said 'law' paper weight.. 
I agree with Color Me Free, this will most likely be tossed by SCOTUS.
What I find more bothersome is the fact that these folks would not only put together such a law, but pass it. Still not understanding the need of folks (particularly those that always decry Big Government) to stick their beaks into other folks private affairs. 
 
 
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