The fight against abortion stigma often requires women to speak honestly, publicly, and on their own terms about very personal decisions. This weekend, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes bravely decided to acknowledge her own abortion in order to hold anti-choice, anti-women advocates accountable.
At a Texas Tribune Festival panel, Dukes responded to GOP HD-55 candidate Molly White’s assertions that women who have abortions often become depressed and abuse drugs.
When White told Dukes that she couldn’t understand the issue without having had an abortion herself, Dukes replied, “To the world, I had an abortion.”
Dukes did not disclose any more details about her decision to seek an abortion, and posted on Facebook the next day that her “decision was private and will remain private—end of story.”
“Folks have about as much right to know why as they have a right to know when/why you have a pap smear, rectal exam or root-canal—none whatsoever,” she added.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, anti-choice groups and politicians frequently claim that abortion causes depression and other mental illnesses.
In actuality, the risk of mental health problems rises when women face unwanted pregnancies, and women who choose to give birth and those who choose abortion are equally likely to develop a mental illness.
Additionally, women who face “negative attitudes about abortion” or “negative attitudes about a women’s experience of abortion” are more likely to have mental health problems following an abortion.
In other words, members of the GOP who truly care about pregnant women’s mental health should be fighting for stricter buffer zone laws and toning down their diatribes about murdering babies.
Unsurprisingly, Dukes received ample praise and support for bravely defending Texas women, as well as some backlash. After all, if a woman publicly discusses her personal experiences, it’s only a matter of time before a man weighs in and explains them to her. Former state Sen. Bob Deuell, also on the panel, later wrote, “Given her views and some comments she made yesterday and in the past, one might argue whether Dukes has suffered from her abortion.”
“You are a real hoot!” Dukes replied to Deuell. “You certainly had no problem with my ‘mental stability’ when I was sympathetic to you prior to the debate on your re-election loss…. I sure will not miss you in the legislature.”
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.