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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Letter to the Editor: HB1307 is Hurting Women Who Need Help

The anti-abortion bill is harmful to victims of rape in the state of Missouri

Aug. 10, 2014

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I was raped. I’ll spare you the details and just tell you that I joined the ranks of survivors at 21 years old. There are many of us. Doctors, bank tellers, construction workers, baristas – people you see every day. I was a student and I worked in a biochemistry research lab on campus.

Becoming a survivor changed the projection of my life. I decided to go to graduate school for degrees in public health and social work. I started volunteering at a local shelter. Now, I typically am on call around 48 hours a month. In the past 5 years, I’ve worked with countless women who have been victims and eventual survivors of rape and incest.

I can tell you, in complete honesty, that each time I go to the hospital to help another survivor, it hurts me. She hurts. I remember how I felt shattered inside and I dread the knowledge that she is feeling something similar to what I felt. University Hospital does a truly excellent job; the staff is calming, the facility is state-of-the-art, but nothing can stop the loss of control that most women feel. I can’t speak for every survivor, but for me the knowledge that I could have gotten an abortion if I needed one was comforting in a time of otherwise complete devastation.

I’m hesitant to say I was lucky, but I want to acknowledge the fact that I was privileged enough to have access to birth control at the time I was raped. I was on the pill. I still feared being pregnant but it wasn’t my biggest worry.

If I had been raped yesterday instead of 5 years ago and if I had gotten pregnant and if Gov. Jay Nixon had signed House Bill 1307 into law, I would have had tremendous barriers to overcome to obtain an abortion. With only one abortion facility in the state, I would have had to miss classes, driven hundreds of miles, waited three agonizing days (or longer if there’s a weekend), and then done it all over again. Having to wait three more days to start moving past the rape would have been miserable. Being forced to carry around a fetus conceived through rape would have been detrimental to my already fragile mental health. This law makes a terrible situation even worse.

Unless you are a survivor, you don’t know how terrible it is moving past a rape. You can imagine, you can sympathize, you may have even observed a loved one going through it, but you don’t know. Access to abortion shouldn’t be taken away with zero exemption for every single woman.

I’m glad that Governor Nixon recognized the detriment this bill causes for survivors who want to have an abortion, and vetoed this bill. I hope I have helped you understand what it is like for rape and incest survivors and how extending the waiting period is not necessary. I hope you contact Representative Rowden and Senator Schaefer, who voted yes to passing HB1307 with no rape and incest exemption.

-Kimberly Nolte kln9qd@mail.missouri.edu

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