Pregnancy

‘Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act’ Would’ve Let My Rapist Sue Me For Getting An Abortion

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Let’s just get this out there right now. On January 16th, 2005, I was raped. I was a freshman in college living in a new city. A girl I met at work invited me over to her boyfriend’s house to watch the Colts game, because she knew that I was from Indiana and a football fan. My new friend and her boyfriend cooked chicken and asparagus, which I paired with a glass of white wine. I have to admit that I remember feeling very grown-up at the time. I wasn’t drinking sub-premium beer or McCormick’s Vodka, like most college freshman. I was at a nice little dinner party watching the Colts get beat by Tom Brady.

Before the game could end, I remember feeling nauseous. I know that I was embarrassed and confused as to why I was reacting so strongly to a single glass of wine. This was not the first time that I had consumed alcohol. That’s about all that I remember from that evening. After the confusion, my mind is pretty much blank, though sometimes I have flashbacks that I’ll never share in writing.

I woke up the following morning around 6am naked and freezing cold in the couple’s shower. Having been a virgin before that night, I had very little doubt as to what had happened. I was sore and already sprouting bruises on my hips. Desperately trying not to wake anyone in the house up, I hunted for my clothes and my purse. By 6:15am I was running through a residential suburb, trying to find the number to a cab company and make my way back to my college dorm room.

That’s my story. That’s the story that changed my life in a very real and concrete way. I didn’t tell anyone what happened, partly because one of my rapists was a police officer and I was afraid to confront him. I have to admit, I was also too traumatized to speak to anyone for weeks. I dropped out of college and moved home with my parents. I started drinking and trying to pretend that nothing had ever happened. I went through a very dark and difficult time in my life. This is my story. It’s also the story that cemented my pro-choice beliefs.

Why am I sharing this now, after all this time? I’m talking about my situation now because there’s a new bill that rape survivors everywhere should have something to say about.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act was authored by Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican. At face value, the bill is supposed to protect against race and sex-selective abortion. However, Jezebel has pointed out that the bill has a very disturbing passage that would allow the father of the child the opportunity to sue if a woman chooses to have an abortion. The exact language of the bill states:

“The father of an unborn child who is the subject of an abortion performed or attempted in violation of subsection (a), or a maternal grandparent of the unborn child if the pregnant woman is an unemancipated minor, may in a civil action against any person who engaged in the violation, obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff’s criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion.”

So if a woman wants to have an abortion, she needs to have the consent of the father, or else there’s a possibility that she’ll be sued for emotional damages and “loss of companionship.” Go ahead and absorb that for a minute please.

Now, there is language there to protect against a rapist forcing his victim to bear his child. The bill says “unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff’s criminal conduct.” However, what if you’re a woman like me who didn’t choose to report her rape? What if you’re one of millions of victims who don’t report her assault?

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