You know something is deeply wrong with American politics when a female elected official has to share intimate details about her own rape and subsequent abortion with her colleagues to prove a point.
That's what happened to Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor, who refused to stay silent during a house floor debate on Wednesday about a proposed bill that would charge doctors with a fifth-degree felony for performing an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat, a process that would be required under this bill, the Toledo Blade reports. The bill would effectively ban abortion when a heartbeat becomes detectable, about six weeks after conception, with no exception for cases of rape or incest.
Fedor, a survivor of military sexual assault, took to the house floor to share her story and possibly change her colleagues' minds.
"What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long. I dare any one of you to judge me, because there's only one judge I'm going to face," she said. "I don't want government in my business. I want my freedom."
While Fedor said she is more conservative than some of her Republican colleagues, she asserted the proposed bill inserts politics into Ohio's hospital rooms in a way that's not just invasive, but unconstitutional. And in fact, the bill's own backers expect federal courts to overturn the law if it is passed and then legally challenged, according to the Blade.
Fedor also pointed to a colleague who was smiling and laughing during her time on the floor. Although it is unclear whether this person was being insensitive or simply not paying attention to her, onlookers could sense the emotional reaction in her voice.
"You don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice," she told her colleagues.
Fedor's speech was a powerful reminder that one in every six American women has been the victim of completed or attempted sexual assault — and that includes female lawmakers. Although survivors should feel safe coming forward with their personal stories without fear of facing stigma, it's unfair that some must publicly share such an intimate experience just to get their point across.
Women shouldn't have to remind politicians that control over their own bodies is crucial to their dignity and participation in society. Female politicians like Fedor have had to tell their stories for far too long. Isn't it time we listen?
But someone is listening: The House approved Bill 69 with a 55-44 vote on Wednesday, but the Senate has refused to take up the bill after the two previous successful House votes on similar legislation. And according to the Blade, and there's no indication the Senate will address this bill either.