The pro-abortion backlash against Donald Trump has stretched beyond the borders of the U.S.
On Thursday, the British news outlet The Telegraph published an open letter to Trump with the headline, “Dear Donald Trump, how dare you tell me I should be punished for my abortion.” British and Irish abortion activist Kat Stark (pictured) from the group Abortion Support Network wrote the letter in reaction to Trump’s controversial statements about women being punished for having abortions.
In an interview Wednesday with MSNBC, which is no friend to pro-lifers, host Chris Matthews asked the Republican presidential candidate if he thought women should be punished for having abortions if abortion becomes illegal again. Trump responded that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions.
After facing a harsh backlash from pro-life and pro-abortion groups alike, Trump took back his original statement and said he believes abortion doctors should be punished, not women.
Ignoring this, Stark attacked Trump as an unfeeling mysoginist who is trying to incite violence against women. She wrote:
I had an abortion when I was 19. I came back to start my second year at university in September and two weeks in, found out I was pregnant. It was a total accident and I was in a state of panic. I wasn’t in a relationship; I had no money, no job.
There was no shadow of doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do: have an abortion. I went to see my GP immediately but he wouldn’t refer me to a clinic. I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time but looking back he was being obstructive.
I think I might have been early enough to take the medical abortion pill back then, but the delay meant by the time I saw a second doctor I had to have a surgical procedure.
Those obstacles were difficult, especially back then when I had no real information about abortion and how the whole process worked, but the hardest part was the stigma and shame associated with abortion and unplanned pregnancy.
Shame and social stigma are what Stark said cause women to feel conflict and grief about their abortions. She completely ignored that those feelings are the result of the woman killing her unborn baby.
Without all the shame in our society, I would have just been like, ‘I’ve been an idiot but let me sort it out.’ I wouldn’t have had all those months of shame and stress – and nor would all the girls I’d seen in the waiting room of the clinic. There were younger teenage girls crying and some people on their own who probably hadn’t felt they could bring anyone along. That isn’t how it should be.
Abortion shouldn’t be seen as taboo and I can’t believe I even have to say in 2016 that women or doctors shouldn’t be ‘punished’ for carrying it out. If you’re having sex you’re always at risk of pregnancy. Some people are just unlucky.
Stark ended by calling abortion a “casual medical procedure,” a statement that contradicts her own experience of “months of shame and stress.” She concluded:
Abortion can already be punishment enough for women. I don’t think it has to be. There’s nothing wrong with it being a casual medical procedure. But a lot of people do find it difficult and your comments aren’t helping.
They start the abortion procedure with a number of fears which often dissipate. They worry about telling friends, but it’s OK. They worry people will shun them, but they don’t and won’t.
But you’re making those fears come true. I’m so glad you didn’t make those comments back when I was 19 having my abortion because it would have meant that all my fears – that what I was doing was shameful and taboo – would have been proved right.
Instead I went on to have my abortion and I haven’t looked back since.
While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected under law and abortions are banned, the pro-life movement has historically opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill in abortions.
These types of attacks are what many pro-lifers feared would happen as a result of Trump’s initial remarks. Stark’s letter misrepresents the pro-life movement, which is dedicated to protecting the dignity of every human life, born and unborn. Rather than condemnation, many pro-life groups offer compassionate counseling services to women who have had abortions in an effort to help them heal and find forgiveness.