Attorney Gloria Allred took the stage at a pro-choice rally in Manhattan on Tuesday and told a harrowing story about nearly “bleeding to death” after she was forced to get an illegal abortion following a rape in the 1960s.
Describing herself as “living evidence of what happens if abortion is criminalized,” Allred said recent anti-abortion legislation in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri will effectively condemn women and girls to death by leaving them no options other than illegal abortion.
While Alabama’s near-total abortion ban stipulates up to 99 year prison sentences for doctors performing abortions, Allred said, “The truth is, the victims are the women and the girls who have to get a back-alley abortion and who are going to be left to die.”
The women’s rights lawyer told the crowd in Foley Square that she’d seen firsthand what it was like for women who had no access to abortion in the 1960s. After being raped at gunpoint in Mexico, she said, she traveled back to the United States, found out she was pregnant, and discovered that it was a crime in many states for doctors to perform abortions.
“I had to get a back-alley abortion in a bathtub from a person who was not licensed, they were just doing it for the money,” she said. Once she began hemorrhaging, she said, the person who performed the procedure told her it was “[her] problem now.”
Allred recalled suffering from a 106-degree fever and being packed in ice once she was hospitalized, all while she was surrounded by other women who were “suffering” from illegal abortions.
“The only time a hospital would admit a woman like me was if she was bleeding to death from an abortion,” she said. But even then, she said she was vilified for having gotten the procedure done.
“The nurse told me, ‘This should teach you a lesson,’” Allred said. “It taught me abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible!”
Allred told the crowd of demonstrators that women under the jurisdiction of the new anti-abortion laws in Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia will also likely have to turn to back-alley abortions as a means of terminating their pregnancies, claiming the laws will force women into “no-win situations.”
“More women died from illegal abortions than men in Vietnam,” Allred said. “Most of these lawmakers signing these bills will never have to get an abortion.”
New York mayor and 2020 contender Bill de Blasio also spoke at the rally, describing the lawmakers passing the bills as “right-wing extremists” ignoring the American majority and trying to take the U.S. back to a time of equality “disparity.”
“The only person who gets to decide is the woman herself. That is what the American people believe,” de Blasio said. “Women will die because these laws were passed, and that shouldn’t happen in our America… The rights of women are what matter most.”
Earlier this month, Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that would punish doctors for performing abortions with a maximum sentence of 99 years. The law outlaws abortion in all stages of pregnancy and makes no exception in cases of rape or incest. Missouri lawmakers also recently passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp signed a similar bill.