Nashville, TN — Ilana Drake is a first-year student at Vanderbilt University and was inspired to write a response to the Texas governor after the state passed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.
Dear Governor Greg Abbott,
My name is Ilana Drake, and I am 18 years old. I still cannot believe that I am writing this letter and have to speak up at such a young age; yet the legislation you signed banning almost all abortions in Texas made my jaw drop and my teeth clench. I recently watched “Reversing Roe,” a film that casts light on both sides of Roe v. Wade, and I feel that I need to speak up.
I am a young woman in a world where my voice is not equal to that of my male peers in laws like yours. By not even allowing exceptions for cases of rape and incest, you continue to make every single woman in the United States feel afraid. I know because I am now afraid of the ripple effects of this law, and the reality that other states may pass similar ones especially in the South where I attend college. Like other college students, I have to worry about sexual assault because it happens. Even on my campus, where three incidents were recently reported and many more are unreported.
I never expected to write this letter because I did not think I would need a reason to speak up about abortion. Yet, I do not know what will happen in the future regarding decisions I could make or possible scenarios in which I may be placed.
For years, I was afraid to attend high school parties because of the chance that someone could spike my drink and date rape me. I’ve heard my male peers speak openly about how “consent is blurred” after drinking; and the idea of being 18, a first-year in college during the ‘red zone’ period when sexual assaults spike and unable to have control over my own body scares me to death.
I grew up in one of the most liberal cities in America, and, while I am definitely more conservative than my peers on various issues, I also know when a law oversteps authority. We say that we separate church and state in the Constitution, but anti-abortion activists claim the opposite. Your legislation is not only being watched by citizens of Texas, but by every single woman in the United States.
The risks to women from this law are extremely high. You are forcing every single woman who is pregnant, and who does not want to be pregnant, to carry her pregnancy to term. Your legislation will increase the number of teen pregnancies. I believe that if we are truly “pro-life,” we want to decrease the number of abortions, and this can only occur with mandatory sexual health education, widely available contraception, and other alternatives.
I am very disappointed and disaffected by this supposedly conservative position. I was raised to believe that conservative principles supported the freedom of the individual. Apparently that principle does not apply to the rights of women.