By Leila Macor, AFP /Montgomery, Alabama
After being raped by a co-worker two years ago, Samantha Blakely had an abortion.
That would have been illegal under Alabama’s tough new abortion law and Blakely says that faced with being forced to carry the baby it’s likely she would have taken her own life.
The 25-year-old Blakely is among women speaking out after the conservative southern US state adopted the toughest anti-abortion legislation in the country.
The Alabama bill, which takes effect in November unless it is blocked in the courts, places a near-total ban on ending a pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest.
Performing an abortion would be a crime that could land doctors in prison for 10 to 99 years.
Abortions would only be legal if the life of the mother is in danger or the fetus has a fatal condition.
A 1973 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe vs Wade makes abortion legal but opponents are hoping they can get the new conservative majority on the nation’s highest court to reverse the ruling.
“If this ban was in effect back then, when I needed my abortion, I know that I would not have been able to carry my rapist’s child,” Blakely told AFP in an interview at a riverfront Montgomery park.
“I would have either had some sort of unsafe abortion,” she said. “(Or) I would have ended my life, if I’m being frank.”
“Because I knew one thing,” she said. “I knew that I was not going to be able to carry that child.”
Fearful of reliving the trauma, Blakely chose not to press charges against the man who raped her but she did go to the police later after he began stalking her.
Blakely, who works in the travel industry, said Alabama’s anti-abortion legislation had “produced a whole new set of emotions.”
“It put fear, I think, where there was concern,” she said. “We were concerned. Now we’re scared.”
“I saw that our reproductive rights were under attack,” said Blakely, wearing a red shirt with the word “woman” on the front.
“I definitely believe it is an attack on our right to healthcare,” she said.
Even President Donald Trump, who says he is “strongly pro-life,” tweeted over the weekend that he supports abortion in the case of rape or incest.
Blakely said the Alabama legislation had spurred her to share her story.
“I knew that it was time to be a voice for those who couldn’t share their voice,” she said.
“I gather my strength from the women who I’ve met, from the people I’ve met who could be greatly affected by this ban.”
Blakely said that regardless of any legal moves to outlaw abortion women would still seek to end unwanted pregnancies.
“We are going to continue to have abortions,” she said.
“We will (just) not have safe, legal abortions. Abortion will not go away and this is very dangerous to the lives of women.”
“We will resort to different methods. We will Google things. We will order these dangerous teas from all over different places in the world.”
“We’ll go through so many terrible things to make sure that we can do what we need to do,” Blakely said. “So it’s going to affect women very negatively. And I think that it is ultimately extremely dangerous.”
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