Female Lawmakers Reveal Their Rape Stories

It's part of the nation's new abortion debate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2019 4:30 PM CDT
Amid Abortion Debate, Female Lawmakers Tell Stories of Rape
In this March 25, 2019 photo, Ohio State Rep. Erica Crawley, D-Columbus, listens as Reps. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, announce their proposed overhaul of Ohio's school funding formula at the Statehouse.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

For more than two decades, Nancy Mace did not speak publicly about her rape. In April, when she finally broke her silence, she chose the most public of forums—before her colleagues in South Carolina's legislature, the AP reports. A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker who is against abortion in most cases, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment—some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed—she could not restrain herself. "For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape," Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor.

As one Republican legislature after another has pressed ahead with restrictive abortion bills in recent months, they have been confronted with raw and emotional testimony about the consequences of such laws. Female lawmakers and other women have stepped forward to tell searing, personal stories. In Ohio, a fetal heartbeat bill passed even after three lawmakers spoke out on the floor about their rapes—among them State Rep. Lisa Sobecki, who argued for a rape exemption by recounting her own assault and subsequent abortion. Kelly Dittmar, an expert on women and politics, says more female lawmakers might speak out about their rapes and abortions. "For some women who have healed enough in their own personal battles with this type of abuse, they might be comfortable speaking about this publicly because they see a higher purpose for it," she said. Click for the full story.

(More abortion stories.)

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