My story is one that some already know, but for the sake of those who might not, and in light of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, it is best summarized by these three sentences: I was raped when I was 17 years old. I was forced to give birth to a baby when I was 18 years old. My baby died when I was 19 years old.
I wrote my first essay for HuffPost in 2019 regarding my rape at the hands of a trusted friend, how it led to a crisis pregnancy and ultimately, the birth of my daughter, Zoe. I detailed the consequences of being denied an abortion later in pregnancy after discovering she had a fatal neural tube defect called hydranencephaly, and how this meant I was forced to give birth to her and then spend a year watching her slowly die in front of me.
At the time, then-President Donald Trump had been broadcasting misinformation that conflated comfort care for infants born with lethal fetal anomalies with abortion care. As a person who had been denied the latter, and who struggled to provide palliative care that could ease the symptoms of my child’s rapidly deteriorating quality of life, I wanted to provide an authentic perspective on how these choices are as deeply personal as the circumstances that instigate them.
I wrote another piece for HuffPost three months later when Alabama passed H.B. 314 — a six-week abortion ban with no rape and incest exceptions. In that essay, I condemned the politics that reduce our bodies to pieces of rhetoric and ignore our actual lived experiences.
These essays were shared across media platforms and resulted in my being interviewed for various programming, both nationally and internationally. I’ve never regretted it ― not even when my story began to circulate in my local southern Alabama community, and former schoolmates, friends, even family, took to social media with disparaging remarks and invalidations.
I have always struggled with asserting myself. I try to predict what people want from me in order to avoid any confrontation, but here, I found the vitriol slipping easily from my mind. I suppose that’s a rather bleak silver lining to having already lived through one of the worst possible things that can happen to a person ― anything less than total annihilation is manageable. [Continue reading…]