Donald Trump’s choice of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate in the 2016 presidential election scares me to death. As a long-identified feminist and pro-choice activist, I paid close attention in 2011 when Governor Pence nearly passed an amendment that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. Governor Pence’s beliefs are in line with many of the most oppressive laws on women’s health: mandatory waiting periods, which, in some states, require women to wait anywhere from 18-72 hours between being “counseled” and given an abortion; TRAP laws that place undue burdens on abortion providers and medical centers (he signed HB 1337 this year) … the list goes on.
From the time of my feminist awakening at 16 until I was 23, I knew just how detrimental these laws were. I read impassioned stories from women who didn’t have access to abortion and had to miss work and travel miles into another state or country in order to end their pregnancies; and I read stories from women who did have access to abortion and who couldn’t imagine their lives any other way. Then, something unexpected happened to me.
After six months on a highly effective form of hormonal birth control, I got pregnant. Because I wasn’t quite pregnant enough to terminate the pregnancy right away, I had to wait two weeks before I could get a medical abortion. During those two weeks, I felt uncomfortable in my skin, anxious about going to work and like I was wearing a scarlet letter. I didn’t feel ashamed that I was planning to get an abortion, but I hated the secrecy and quiet surrounding the procedure. Even though many women will get an abortion in their lifetimes, only a few women had ever told me they had gotten an abortion. I despised being in a physical state that I felt I hadn’t explicitly chosen for myself.
The day I could finally terminate the pregnancy, my boyfriend and I went to the New York suburb where my mom lives, and the three of us spent the weekend together. My boyfriend and I had been dating less than a year at that point, but he was supportive and caring all weekend as I experienced something that felt like a very heavy period. We walked seven miles after I took the first of the two pills and I showed him around my hometown. With every step we took, I felt increasingly free — free to return to my job, my friendships and my life as a 23-year-old with student loans, dreams and no desire to have a baby for the foreseeable future.
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I have never regretted having an abortion, which is why the Trump/Pence ticket scares me to my core. Even though Donald Trump has flip-flopped on his views of abortion (he may have donated to Planned Parenthood, though he says he’s not sure), he is desperate to capture the hearts and minds of socially conservative Republicans who are wary of electing a former Democrat. Enter Governor Pence, who very recently signed into law legislation that requires fetuses be buried or cremated and even more legislation that prohibits women from having abortions if their fetus is diagnosed with a disability. And with a Supreme Court seat up for grabs, a Trump/Pence presidency would surely nominate a judge who would support overturning Roe v. Wade, which would be a living nightmare for women all over the country. I want women to have the ability to make choices for themselves and not ones that old, white men decide are right for them.
Megan Reback is the Corporate Partnerships and Events Coordinator at Friends of the High Line.