Rape victim who had illegal abortion at age 13 calls Alabama’s law ‘an abomination’

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Maralyn Mosley remembers life in Alabama before abortion was legal.

Twenty-two years before the passage of Roe v. Wade, Mosley had her first illegal abortion at the age of 13 after being raped by a tenant at her aunt’s Birmingham boarding house. Mosley’s mother made the decision to take her to a woman the community went to for clandestine terminations of pregnancy. Mosley was turned away because of her age.

That’s how, in 1951, a young Mosley found herself being taken through a nondescript door in an alley. There she got an abortion in the back of a barbershop from a man who asked for sex before he would do the procedure.

“I had been raped, and this made me feel like I was useless, like I was violated,” Mosley said.

Mosley said she doesn’t remember much of the procedure itself, that she blocked out the memory because it was too painful. She said she clearly remembers her second illegal abortion, one she performed on herself seven years later with knitting needles.

A protest is held against HB314, the abortion ban bill, at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday April 17, 2019.  (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

In 1991, Mosley spoke at the Alabama Statehouse, sharing her story as a warning to the Senate panel, which was mulling abortion restrictions at the time. Mosley wanted them to know that abortions would happen anyway and what would happen if legal access was lost.

“You go for help and instead of receiving it, you are violated again. And you didn’t know who was going to be the person performing the abortion,” Mosley said. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that would effectively ban and criminalize performing abortions in Alabama, a piece of legislation supporting lawmakers who hope it will be challenged to the U.S. Supreme Court where a conservative majority could overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The bill provided no exceptions for victims of incest or rape. Now 81 years old and living in Birmingham, Mosley said she was “extremely saddened” to see the passage of a bill that would not have protected her 13-year-old self, a bill that might force women to take similarly drastic, dangerous and illegal measures to seek an abortion.

“We’re going to return to the back alleys. We’re going to return to where women will do abortions to themselves. We will return to the coat hangers and perforated uteruses. We will return to where women will bleed to death. It will be as it was before,” she said.

“It’s an abomination.”

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