All the abortion ban legislation and related posts the last few weeks have been a lot for me to handle. My relationship with abortion is complicated and still evolving.
I was raised Catholic. At one time I thought I was being called to be a nun. My parents are so pro-life that they used to organize the parish trip to the march in Washington every year.
Even when I left the church when I was around 20, I continued holding most of the anti-abortion beliefs I had been raised with. Individually I would support anyone in her individual choice, but I still primarily identified as pro-life…or at least I walked the middle of the road in such a way that nobody wanted me on their side.
Last year my views started to shift. I began my studies as a bereavement doula. One of the areas that some bereavement doulas work in is supporting women through abortions. The course material brought up old trauma, and I was determined to work through it. I felt called to provide this kind of support, and I knew the only way to do that was to deal with my stuff so that I could be fully present with them and not pull away into my own triggers.
I did research online, read books, talked to people who had abortions or had supported others through them. I did inner child work and released more fear, anger, and grief. I talked to my daughter who had been aborted. My views began to shift as more about the circumstances surrounding the many individuals I was learning about came to light.
Then last month as all these dangerous, cruel, scary pieces of legislation were surfacing, I began to get angry. I was angry about the hardship, danger, and oppression the government is imposing upon the citizens of this country.
There was one particular post that stood out to me. It was the story of a woman whose father, a doctor, had repeatedly raped her as a teenager. When she became pregnant at the age of 13, a buddy of his performed the abortion. She was given no choice. Her mother told her that everything that happened was God’s will. There were parts of it that resonated with me and my own story, even though other parts were very different.
That post made me want to share my own story and to speak out for the right for all women, girls, trans, intersex, and binary people to choose what happens in their very individual circumstances.
Here is my story…As a young teenager, around 14, I was repeatedly raped by men I knew who were not related to me. After months of terrible abuse, I became pregnant. I remember feeling so scared and alone. I also felt so much love for the life growing inside me. I wanted that baby.
I confided in one of the men. He had shown me small kindnesses during my ordeal. I naively thought he would help me. First the rapists tried beating me to end the pregnancy. When that didn’t work, the man posed as my father and took me to have an abortion. I didn’t know what was happening until it happened. I started to scream, and somebody put a hand over my mouth.
I didn’t remember the rapes, the abortion, or my baby for over 20 years.
My choice was taken away from me, and with it my memories and my voice.
Over the past 5 years, I have worked through healing those related traumas using all sorts of tools. I have released layer upon layer upon layer. I am dedicated now to helping others to release and heal sexual trauma.
This is my story. I add it to the millions of voices with their own stories of trauma or shame or illness or poverty or pain or hardship that so many others have faced.
I, Rev. Niki Kissell, am adding my voice because it is more important to me now than ever before that those faced with this most difficult of decisions have access to choice in a way I didn’t have. I am telling you this because societal changes aren’t made because of statistics or political affiliations or dogma. Changes are made when people encounter individuals – when they meet somebody with a face, and a name, and a story.
This is a call to be heard! Not everyone is in a position where they can or want to share their story. Not everyone has this kind of story to share. Other ways you can help to add your voice for the right of choice is by making financial donations to organizations working on the front lines like the ACLU, SisterSong, The National Abortion Federation, and the Yellow Hammer Fund; voting for legislators that support women’s right to choose and encouraging others to vote as well; calling and writing to your legislators; learning about this issue more deeply and learning the stories of those involved on all sides and in all kinds of situations.