Monday, February 7, 2011

What Keeps Me Up at Night

When I was in my early 20s I was raped by someone I knew while out of town at what was supposed to be a happy event. He didn’t beat me senseless or cut me up or hold a gun to my head  and yet, what happened was forcible and it was a rape. It was without my consent and a violation of my person, body and soul. Soon after I came home I found that my boyfriend who had been sober for several years had gone back to alcohol and drugs. Our relationship became volatile. I found out that I was pregnant on the same day that he hit me, in a PCP fueled rage, for the first and last time.  It is nearly two decades later.  I am a mother with three children; children I cherish above all else.  I know  today that the abortion I had then, was the correct and healthy decision for me and for my future family.  Sharing this story is hard; it meant a conversation with my 13 year old son that I didn't think I would have to have for a few more years, it means that some of my family may be hurt or embarrassed.  I hope you'll read this blog post in its entirety; this is what is keeping me up nights these days.  I hope you'll continue to read my blog, regardless of your feelings on abortion, I promise I'm not switching over from smart-ass to soap box, this particular issue  is  an issue that hits a little close to home.

Off the top of my head I can think of 10 women I know who have lived through similar experiences, mainly involving a rape by someone they knew. Knowing someone doesn't make rape not "forcible" all rape is forcible, that's what makes it rape.  I’m sharing what is an intensely personal story for a reason. Most Americans, even Americans against abortion, feel that exceptions should be made for cases of rape, incest or cases where the mother’s life is in peril. By sharing my story, I want to illustrate that you, personally, know someone who has been a victim of one or more of those instances. It’s not just a nameless, faceless person. People you know and love have found themselves in situations where decisions have had to be made; decisions that were painful, personally necessary and possibly the result of an intensely traumatic event.  Decisions that our constitution says are exactly that; our decision.

Many people have strong feelings on the topic of abortion, I am one of them. I am pro-choice but I have many friends who do not feel the same. They are people who I both like and respect.  I understand that people have religious and spiritual beliefs that may be different from my own, I embrace that. My own, personal, feeling is that it shouldn’t be political. No one is pro-abortion.  This post is not about the topic, per se, it is about how we, as Americans, go about changing or circumventing laws.

Roe vs. Wade is a real, legal decision of the Supreme Court, upheld by the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution. In order for the 14th amendment to have become legal, legal steps were taken; a bill passed the House and the Senate by at least a 2/3 vote. It then moved on for ratification in at least ¾ of the 50 states, it passed. In order for Roe vs Wade to be a legal decision, the Supreme Court followed a legal procedure.  No one snuck it in the back door while people's heads were turned.

There is a legal, moral and ethical way to repeal Roe vs Wade, a new amendment against reproductive freedom could be added in the exact same manner that the 14th amendment was added. The way to handle this, if you feel strongly that Roe vs Wade should not be upheld, is to work hard to vote people into office that can make that happen.  That's fair; that's how our government is supposed to work.

It seems that there is a sneaky and underhanded way to make the Roe vs Wade and some of our 14th amendment rights null and void. It is called “H.R.3 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” the bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing aimed at making abortion impossible to access in a reasonable manner for American women. There are already two laws on the books that prohibit federal funding of abortions, The Hyde bill and The Affordable Health Care Act. Both carry exceptions for rape, incest and mother’s health. The name of this bill doesn't sound that bad, many people don't want federal funding for abortions, but that is not what it is.  It is misogynistic and morally repugnant. Its first aim is to re-define "rape" by adding in an additional word; "forcible", implying that the act of rape has degrees.  Leaving the door open for date rape, drugged rape and coerced rape to become....not rape.  It re-victimizes people who have already survived a rapeThis bill, being pushed by the Republicans, was authored primarily by Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey.  It leaves the door open for interpretation of what rape is, it leaves the door open for who gets to decide who has been raped. In addition, its wording regarding the mother’s health is also open to interpretation.

The bill not only victimizes rape survivors, it punishes corporate America and American women across the board. Women who have money in tax-free medical savings accounts will not be able to use that money to procure an abortion without paying taxes; money that is tax-free for medical purposes.  Companies are offered sizable tax breaks to offer health insurance policies to their employees. If those policies offer coverage for abortion, even if those benefits are unused, the company who supplied the health coverage will lose their tax breaks. What that means to us is, some employers will stop offering health insurance and many or all health insurance companies will stop offering policies that include coverage of abortions; a legal medical procedure. Imagine for a moment what might happen if this same small group of Republicans decided they had a problem with organ transplant or blood donation?

I understand and respect opinions against abortion. Even if you are against abortion, I urge you to contact your local representative about HR3, because it's not about abortion, it's about a few members of one political party trying to control an amendment they don't agree with by circumventing the law.  If the law is changed, it should be changed in a legal and transparent manner. Our country is free, part of that freedom is living with some laws you disagree with, and there are moral and ethical ways to change laws. There are also moral and ethical ways to raise your children in a country that has legal abortion so that they know and respect your opinion of abortion.  Weather or not you are pro-choice, I urge you to contact your representative and let them know that you are not okay with the “H.R. 3 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, that there are already laws on the books prohibiting federal funding for abortion and that you would like your representative to focus on whatever issues that are important to you (jobs, jobs, jobs).

This is a link to a list of representatives by state.  On most of their websites, you can email them directly.  I've already written Randy Hultgren the Republican representative in my district.  Please, write to your representative today!  Contact me, and I'll be happy to share the email I sent to Randy Hultgren with you.

I am leaving the comments open, but please be respectful of the fact that one of my children reads this blog.


Anonymous said...

Kris, I am so sorry that that happened to you! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

Lisa said...

This is such an excellent post. Thank you.

Janssen said...

I appreciate your post and agree that this bill is pretty under-handed.

However, I'm fairly puzzled by your description of the fourteenth amendment and Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court case, which means that Congress wasn't involved in it and states didn't ratify it.

And Roe v. Wade wasn't an Amendment (14th or otherwise) to the Constitution either - the ruling on it was simply based on the court's interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which had already been around for over a hundred years prior to the Roe v. Wade case.

Reading your explanation of it baffles me - what am I missing?

Kris Harper-Kaminski said...

You are right, sometimes my brain works faster than my hands, I re-worded that section to more accurately explain my thoughts. Thanks and thanks for reading! Kris

cheli said...

Kris, I'm so proud of you! Your writing, your beliefs and your fairness to both sides of a story always make me feel like I must have done something right. You could knock out a book in a week or two and end up on top of the best sellers list. After all, coming from this family, there is no shortage of stories, both serious and humorous. I love you, Mom

Rebecca said...

Thank you for being so open...I'm sure it wasn't easy at all.

You are so right...there are not degrees of rape. That is horrific that someone would think that they could categorize that kind of terror.

I am going to contact my representative right now. You did a good thing here.

Janssen said...

Thanks - that makes a lot more sense. I think you really handled this sensitive topic in a very fair and non-combative way (who knew that could even HAPPEN in the blog world?).

Kris Harper-Kaminski said...

Thanks for all of the great comments and support!

Cathi said...

Thank you for educating us about this bill and for sharing your own personal trauma. I will contact my representative about this very confusing/conniving bill. Great job on this lady.

Kris Harper-Kaminski said...

My letter was somewhat snarky, Cat, but the blog has a direct link to Hultgren's site and I emailed him directly. Thanks!

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