34 years ago today, Roe v. Wade was decided, thus ending a period of time where women had to resort to desperate and dangerous measures when they were faced with the prospects of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
As many of you know, this was a lessor hot button issue on the campaign trail this year. Although, until you have been called a baby killer, which happened in Winsted and Howard Lake, you truly have not campaigned. I remember when Nolan was called this in Winsted one afternoon.
"Now I know what it felt like to be my dad, we have more in common now!" uttered Nolan, whose dad is a Vietnam Veteran.
For several years, during my full time college days, I did a lot of speaking on Veterans issues at colleges and schools throughout the state. I spoke of the de-humanization tactics used during training, the racism and sexism used to exacerbate the process. I spoke of the vast history behind our government mistreating our veterans. I spoke of stories shared with me of rape and sexual assault.
One powerful story weighs heavily on me, and reaffirms my pro-choice stance.
I was speaking to a Sociology class at St Cloud State. Having done this a couple of hundred times, I can get a feel for the audience. I can feel what they get and what they reject. I hit a point in my presentation where I began to talk about the increased rape figures for soldiers having served in the first Gulf War as compared to society (fully understanding that actual rape figures are vastly under-reported). I noted the look in the eyes of a young woman in the back and tempered the comments. Something I just said had hit her like a ton of bricks.
After class, I hung out and talked to many students. The young woman hovered in the back for little while and bailed out before I could talk to her.
A few days later I got an email from her. She wanted to sit down and talk to someone about her experiences in Iraq, during the most recent Gulf War.
We had coffee in Atwood and she told me of a situation that occurred in Kuwait, while her unit was getting ready to come back to the US.
A young military policewoman, she was assigned to convoy operations and had seen her share of IED's and other insurgent weapons, and survived. Her unit was in Kuwait, spending some time winding down before heading back the the US. A new unit for the US had arrived to move into Iraq to begin it's year long excursion into the civil war.
Her friend had left their home away from home in Kuwait to take a shower, it was pretty late as she recalled. Some time had passed before she realized that her friend had been gone for quite some time, which was odd. So, she grabbed her stuff and headed towards the showers.
She found her friend on the floor of the shower, crying and bleeding, having been raped in the shower by soldier(s).
Being a military policewoman, she got her superiors involved.
Military justice was slow and flawed. It appeared to her as though the chain of command did little or nothing on this matter. In fact, she told me that the commanders thought the young woman was lying about the matter. To the best of her knowledge, no one was ever charged with this crime.
Why am I pro-choice? Crimes against women are rampant in society today. In the military, it's even worse.
It is estimated that two-thirds of female service members experience
unwanted, uninvited sexual behavior in the military.
Think about that, 66%. The use of military facilities for an abortion is strictly prohibited, nor can a military doctor perform the procedure.
I am told that the young woman got an abortion shortly after she returned to Minnesota.
I will never forget the look in the eyes of this young woman as she shared this story. Until we can rid our society of it's rampant abuse of women, abortions will be a necessary evil.
My only choice is to support women in situations similar to this, or dis-similar for that matter.