Abortion

By Austin B. Hahn

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the sexual abuse victims.

When I was fifteen, a friend of mine told me that she was transferring schools because her biological and step father had molested her for two years. The experience had left her psychologically derailed. I was shocked and words could hardly leave my lips. She said she wasn’t ready to be in a mainstream environment and that the school she was going to would have smaller classroom sizes and personal tutors so she could receive more individualized attention. I held back my tears as I said goodbye. I could sense she had wanted someone to confide in but had almost no one. She was alone in her pain.

When I was sixteen, I had learned that another one of my good friends, Tina, was sexually abused. Her uncle forced her to give him fellatio, and she ended up having to go to court. I began to notice several changes in her personality: she started doing drugs, she didn’t laugh as much, and she just seemed … well, dead on the inside. We could no longer connect with each other, and, eventually, we stopped talking altogether. Several years went by before I saw her again.

One day, as I was riding the train, I heard a voice shouting that sounded familiar. I turn around to see who was laughing hysterically and swearing up a storm. I saw Tina. She was with a group of people, most of them looked like drug users, and she appeared to be high. I was too humiliated by her behavior to say anything to her. A year and a half later, I see her again on a transit bus. She looked healthier. We immediately recognized each other, and she sat next to me. We talked a little about where we were at in our lives. She told me she was in a better place and that it took her a while for her to get her life back together, but she was back on track in spite of everything that had happened to her. I was glad to know that she was living better days; she deserved to.

I have a reputation with my friends for being sexually promiscuous, but I like to take my time before meeting up with someone for sex. In the summer of 2014, one of my friends, Alicia, came to me with a concern she had about my safety. While she refrained from being judgmental, she just wanted to express that she cared for me and reminded me about the importance of being vigilant. I appreciated and understood her concern, but I felt something was off. When I asked if there was anything else that had prompted her to come to me, she told me about how she was almost raped. Years ago, she was at a party and met a guy who followed her into the bathroom. He left an “out of order” sign on the door and tried to have intercourse with her but couldn’t get an erection. The incident scarred her for life and, to this day, not a single other soul knows about what happened to her.

If any of my friends ended up pregnant because they were sexually abused, I would hope that they could have the option of having an abortion without having to explain themselves. Sexual abuse is humiliating, and none of my friends came forward right away after it happened to them. While I acknowledge others’ beliefs, I also cannot ignore my friends’ experiences. To any woman reading this: I ask you to defend the rights of your sisters that previous generations fought so hard for and to realize that sexual abuse could happen to you too like how it happened to my friends. Gentlemen: Think before you act. If your girlfriend or wife was raped, would you want her to be forced to have a baby against her will? Sexual abuse is real, and as long as we continue to stigmatize abortion and allow it to become criminalized, women will no longer be able to choose. No human being would want to be raped and then forced to have a child. This is not an issue of pro-choice versus pro-life; this is a matter of compassion.

In July of 2015, I received several letters from Planned Parenthood about the movement against women’s right to choose. Here are some facts according to Planned Parenthood:

  • Anti-abortion laws that have been enacted in the last 4 years have reduced access to birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts 390,000 women who rely on government programs for their health care would lose access if they could not go to Planned Parenthood health centers.
  • Two anti-choice Senators – Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) – introduced a bill to supposedly promote over-the-counter access to birth control. In actuality, such legislation would make women pay twice for their birth control – once through their health insurance and then again out of pocket.
  • Fourteen states have passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks – nearly all of them without adequate exceptions for rape or incest or to fully protect a woman’s health.

These are just a few statistics in addition to the 47 anti-abortion laws that were passed in 2015 (Carpenter). The fight continues. How will you act in 2016?

If you care to fight for the rights of women, you can do so silently in the privacy of your own home by donating to Planned Parenthood at: https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2?df_id=12913&12913.donation=form1

Source

Carpenter, Zoë. “Nearly 400 Anti-Abortion Bills Were Introduced Across the Country This Year.” The Nation. The Nation, 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015.

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Art Won’t Save the World

Commentary by Austin B. HahnWhile I don’t belittle the arts, performing on stage in front of people is not enough. You can volunteer at a local foodbank, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, or at a nonprofit organization that fights for human rights. If you can’t do any of those, then donate to charity in person, in the mail, or online. At least do something once in the course of your life that contributes to humanity. We may never know how our actions are positively affecting others, but we also never know when we could land up in an unfortunate situation. The service that you put in today may have just saved the life of a person who goes on to cure that life-threatening disease that you develop in old age. By helping others, we give them a chance to help us too.

Commentary by Austin B. Hahn

While I don’t belittle the arts, performing on stage in front of people is not enough. You can volunteer at a local foodbank, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, or at a nonprofit organization that fights for human rights. If you can’t do any of those, then donate to charity in person, in the mail, or online. At least do something once in the course of your life that contributes to humanity. We may never know how our actions are positively affecting others, but we also never know when we could land up in an unfortunate situation. The service that you put in today may have just saved the life of a person who goes on to cure that life-threatening disease that you develop in old age. By helping others, we give them a chance to help us too.

American Civil Liberties Union

By Austin B. Hahn

Since 1920, the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, has been working “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country” (“The ACLU”). Such individual rights that the ACLU continues to fight for include, but are not limited to: “speech and religion, a woman’s right to choose, the right to due process, [and] citizens’ rights to privacy” (”SOME HIGHLIGHTS”). The ACLU has also has taken up various civil liberties cases pertaining to the rights of the LGBT community, putting an end to mass incarceration, and sustaining the right to vote (”The ACLU”). Over the course of several months, I received correspondence in the mail from them asking about my opinion on issues concerning social justice. After researching their causes, I decided to donate to the organization. I was impressed by their dedication to human rights. According to their fact sheet, Protecting Individual Rights for over 90 years, here are some of the ACLU’s highlights:

1920: Palmer Raids – The ACLU championed the targets of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, including politically radical immigrants. We also supported the right of trade unionists to organize and secure the release of hundreds of activists imprisoned for anti-war activities.

1942: Fighting the Internment of Japanese Americans – The ACLU stood almost alone in denouncing the federal government’s internment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps.

1954: Brown v. Board of Education – The ACLU, having joined the NAACP in the legal battle for equal education, celebrated a major victory when the Supreme Court declared that racially segregated schools were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

1973: Reproductive Rights – After decades of struggle, the Supreme Court held – in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton – that the constitutional right to privacy encompasses a woman’s right to decide whether she will terminate or continue a pregnancy.

2001-Today: Keeping America Safe and Free – Since 9/11, the ACLU has been working vigorously to oppose policies that sacrifice our fundamental freedoms in the name of national security. From working to fix the Patriot Act to contesting warrantless spying, we continue to challenge the government’s expanded power to invade privacy, imprison people without due process and punish dissent.

2012: Reproductive Rights – ACLU lawyers, activists and members stand strong against the assault on women’s reproductive rights. In Congress and in the states, we are fighting an unprecedented number of new laws that aim to restrict or end access to contraception and abortion.

If you’re interested in the ACLU, you can go to https://www.aclu.org/ and sign up at the bottom of their web page to get the latest news. For those of you who would like to make a donation, you can do so by going to https://action.aclu.org/secure/join-aclu-or-renew-your-membership-today.

Sources

American Civil Liberties Union. Protecting Individual Rights for over 90 years. n.p. n.d. Print.

American Civil Liberties Union. “SOME HIGHLIGHTS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO HOW WE DO IT.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2015.

American Civil Liberties Union. “The ACLU TODAY.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2015.