Designer of "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Unveils New Tee for Sexual Abuse Victims

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Designer of "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Unveils New Tee for Sexual Abuse Victims Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 7
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Jennifer Baumgardner was the subject of national notoriety in 2004 when she designed a shirt with the controversial message, "I had an abortion." Now the activist is back with a new shirt proclaiming "I was raped," and she is drawing scorn from pro-life advocates who say the shirt is both distasteful and fails to help women.

Planned Parenthood eventually included the abortion shirts in its online store even though some of its local affiliates were embarrassed by them and said they were inappropriate.

Baumgardner went through several designs of the new shirt with graphics and words that were even too shocking for her.

Eventually she settled on a shirt with a vault or safe with its door ajar and a small note in the form of a name card at a dinner setting. The note carries the controversial "I was raped" phrase.

“What the safe design loses is shock value,” Baumgardner told the New York Times.

She added the softer design allows women to “own the experience" and remove the stigma that surrounds sexual abuse.

Baumgardner already has her supporters as writer Gary Davis published his backing of the idea in an op-ed posted online on Monday.

"Baumgardner is one heck of a business woman," Davis writes.

"What she is doing is taking advantage of the bad luck of other people, but she really isn’t doing anything that Jerry Springer or Maury Povich doesn’t do," he rationalizes.

Davis says he talked with a number of women who didn’t want ownership of their sexual abuse experience — they already had it — but wanted real answers for changing society and justice for the criminals responsible.

As was the case with her abortion shirt, Baumgardner’s rape tee leaves women hanging.

As one pro-life leader who has had an abortion told, the knowledge that a woman has been victimized by abortion — or rape — isn’t the end of the story, as the shirts make it appear.

Rather, the pro-life woman says the acknowledgement is only the beginning of the healing process and merely a first step in making the societal changes needed to reduce or stop both abortions and sexual abuse.