*Trigger warning: sexual assault, abortion crisis
By Tara Pretends Eagle Weber Hunkpapa Lakota
Last Saturday I once again had the honor of being the opening speaker for the latest abortion rights rally hosted in over 240 cities across the US. The Bans Off My Body March is a rapid response to the leak of documents showing that the US Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. I'm very proud to stand with Planned Parenthood in the leadership for women's lives!
Just a day and a half prior to the event I received the invite from my friend made through these rallies, Nina from Women's March. I immediately accepted the invite thinking I had a week. The reason is because this group of women were so darn organized in a matter of days! It warms my spirit as one who has done this work for decades. To not just see the young women mobilizing but the elderly women who have been in the trenches for 50 years fighting again for the constitutional right to an abortion.
I would later rile up these West Palm women by commending their ability to organize & mobilze in no time drawing great crowds!
After 30 years as a social worker I have seen over and over the problems women face when they get pregnant. Often times the impregnater is not around to help solve the problem with her. No one realizes with abortion how limited her options are for many reasons and the difficulties that arise for her…
It leaves me sickened and disgusted that we are in the same place we were 50 years ago. So overwhelmingly disheartening…my mind is sputtering as my denial is wearing off to where my anger has begun to surface.
Let us not forget the women who voted for Trump, which locked in the kooky conservative U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade-which provides the constitutional right to an abortion. What the younger generation does not understand that Roe V Wade was so much more then making abortion legal - It stopped women from dying…
It is hard for me to comprehend that 31 years ago when I began social work it was 1991-Roe was only 18 years old so there were plenty of women that knew other women who died from abortions before Roe. The amount of damage to women's bodies and death from not having legal abortions were catastrophic.
When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted and got pregnant-before I had ever even had sex. Even as a young traumatized teenager I just knew in the weeks following the assault I was pregnant. I remember that I was referred to by an ob/gyn who was anti-choice. I didn't know what the hell that meant but when I was told by his nurse, my life changed. I was horrified because of a medical doctor's belief my health care as a teen rape survivor was altered because of what he thought-By a person who did not even have a vagina…As a result of his personal belief, my healthcare during a horrible crisis was second. Thus, we did not get a referral and have the abortion in the hospital. I was sent to a clinic.
I became overwhelmed when the clinic called the night before warning me about the protesters. Protesters? Against what? I was a teenager who was sexually assaulted and ended up pregnant. Then the next day at the clinic we were given the instructions to the group of seven of us, "When the pain becomes too unbearable to let the nurse know…." What? Why can't they give us the pain reliever before so we do not have to feel the pain? I recall vividly hearing the other women moaning in pain. One girl's cries escalated to a scream. I could not bear hearing it. Later on I remember thinking I wish I could have screamed in pain like them. That was something that would come years later.
So much of this did not make sense to me. How the hell am I here being treated like a herd of cattle?…All because a man does not agree to a child's right to abortion after being sexually assaulted.
I remember seeing my mom at the end of the hallway where she was not allowed down. I was bleeding and did not notice…because I just wanted to get to my mom. When I got to her I wept, "I hope nobody I know ever has to go through this…" I said this thirty-seven years ago and it is as clear as if I said it yesterday. Yet, as miserable as what I experienced abortion was still legal. As I grew older and was forced to face these demons I never forgot how much harder and more traumatic it all would have been if abortion was illegal. This is in part why I became a social worker, an advocate for women with a promise to educate as many as I can about their rights and their bodies. I knew not much would change about the world in the 30 years as a social worker…But never did I ever think for a second abortion would become illegal again by the majority of men on the US Supreme Court!
In the 1990's, I remember attending meetings for the Nation Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). A group within the group spoke about teaching women to perform abortions so we were ready when it became illegal again. I was in complete denial that this could happen again. But soon after hearing this I daydreamed as to what my role would be in that situation. I stuck with being the emotional support. However, now that the time has come-abortion is about to become illegal. I already know my role-to help women access abortions so they do not end up maimed or dead…