My name is Jennifer and I have never had an abortion. But I wouldn’t hesitate to get one if I wanted and needed one. Legislators in South Carolina are trying to pass a near total ban on all abortion--I’m going to tell you all about it and share my story. This is my fight against this horrific ban.
H.3020, an abortion ban bill is the latest effort by politicians in South Carolina to wage a war on people who can get pregnant. It was quietly introduced to the House on January 8th, 2019, and we expect to see a full vote when the legislature starts back in January of 2020. But what exactly is H.3020?
South Carolina House Bill 3020 is a near total ban on abortion. It is truly the government in the exam room. It is the theft of freedom and body autonomy. Make no mistake, the endgame of anti-abortion politicians is to ban all abortion, no exceptions. This ban cuts off abortion at six weeks, before most people even know that they are pregnant.
Most people are not intimately in tune with their bodies—and six weeks just means that their period is late. This ban would take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even knew they had a decision to make.
Pregnancy is not black and white—it’s complicated; no two pregnancies are the same. Often, complications happen well after six weeks. A ban would cut off a doctor’s ability to make a sound judgement on how best to treat their patient and criminalize medicine. If found guilty of ending a pregnancy after six weeks, a doctor could both be convicted of a felony and subject to years in prison. Legislators stated that an exception would be made if the mother’s life was in danger with little guidance on what that means. I also ask -- what about mental health? Who gets to define what is endangering?
Some lawmakers have proposed exceptions for rape and incest, but those same legislators stated that victims will have to prove their assault. Not just proof from the victim though. From the police and from the doctor. Someone has just experienced the worst moments of their life—and you want them to prove it to access legal medical care? Are you kidding me?!
It’s about to get personal now. I’m going to tell you about my Senate testimony experience, why I testified, and why this ban matters to me.
For a hearing held outside of session on September 10th, 2019, I drove to Columbia with people I didn’t know to testify in front of hundreds of people. I had built up the courage to sign up to testify against H.3020 earlier that month and I knew it was a possibility that I would be chosen to do so. But when I found out it was certain; I began to feel sick. I was terrified. Luckily, a wonderful friend from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic helped me navigate my feelings and the process. The room was filled with those in favor of this dangerous bill, but there were many of us opposed to it as well. I listened to both sides. As I listened to the traumatic and heart wrenching stories from others like myself and doctors, I wept. I could feel my anger, indignation, and despair driving me forward.
When my name was called, my hands were shaking, but rage had given me the last push I needed. Seventeen years ago, I was raped. I am so grateful that I didn’t become pregnant…but if I had? I would not have hesitated for a second to get an abortion. I would have refused to relive that trauma every day for the rest of my pregnancy and possibly, the rest of my life. I told my Senators this as I tried not to cry.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with a serious heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome that I never knew I had. It’s a simple genetic mutation with which I was born that carries deadly outcomes. WPW can cause you to go into atrial fibrillation (aka extremely fast heartbeat that can kill you). The night I was diagnosed, my heart was beating 278 bpm, for several hours. They had to stop my heart and restart it—I died and was brought back. I shouldn’t be here right now. When I told my Senators this, their eyes suddenly got very big. No doubt I had the attention of everyone in the room—even some who were in favor of the bill, many of whom never bothered to look up from their phones at anyone during their testimony.
“What about MY heartbeat?!” I asked them! Surely it must mean something! The stress of a pregnancy, especially an unwanted pregnancy, could endanger my life—I could die. I told my Senators that I would not hesitate to get a necessary abortion were I to become pregnant. I told them that I was angry that I had to be there, telling them things so deeply personal that I should never have to tell anyone. I urged them to trust me to make the decision that only I can make. Not the government, ME. If I get pregnant, I WILL get an abortion, and no one will stop me. That’s a fact. But my reasons are mine and mine alone.
Despite so many testimonies, phone calls, emails and letters, our elected officials are ignoring us. It’s as if we have never uttered one word. Abortion is healthcare, not a political ploy. The bill has been pushed to a vote when session starts again next year. I know our elected officials just want their bill to become the law that reaches the Supreme Court. It’s pathetic and a waste of our time and taxpayer money.
The majority of South Carolinians do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned. Our legislators are not working for us. They should reflect our values, not their own. Abortion is normal. Abortion is healthcare. And we demand it without apology.