Facebook | Shannon Hope Dingle

Alabama's Abortion Law Would Have Punished This Woman Who Was Pregnant At 12

There is no more passionately argued debate in America than the debate over whether abortions should be legal or not. Since 1973, after the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion has been legal in the U.S., ensured under the 14th Amendment, which provides a fundamental right to privacy. But that right is increasingly under attack.

Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama have passed legislation that technically doesn't outright ban abortions, but restricts it so much that it might as well be banned, and in Alabama and Ohio, no exceptions are made for cases of rape or incest.

That means that, for Shannon Dingle, had she lived in one of those states when she was 12, she would have been affected.

Instagram | @shannondingle

Today, she's a freelance writer and mother of six, but when she was just 12 years old, she was pregnant.

After Alabama's abortion legislation was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, Shannon shared her story with USA Today, and it's downright heartbreaking.

Now that's she grown up, Shannon can tell her story.

Facebook | Shannon Hope Dingle

But when she was 12, she went through her ordeal in silence. She says that, while living in a suburb of Tampa, she was repeatedly abused.

"I never chose to have sex at such a young age," she wrote, "but abusers in my family chose to rape me."

"I had lost count of the number of times by then."

Instagram | @shannondingle

"With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff's office, I didn't trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere either," she wrote.

And when she missed her period that summer, between sixth and seventh grade, she had to take matters into her own hands.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"When I was two weeks late, I threw up for the first time. I was confused initially, because it didn't feel like my experiences with stomach bugs or bulimia."

It was what she knew of pregnancy from the media that tipped her off.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"Then I remembered when Becky from 'Full House' had been sick and pregnant with their twins. I did the math."

So, when she should have been off doing kid things, she had to go get a pregnancy test.

Shannon says she lied to the clerk when she bought her test, saying it was for her mom.

Instagram | @shannondingle

Then she walked off deep into the woods to take the test, climbing a tree as she waited for the results. "As soon as I saw the results, I scrambled back down the tree to double-check the box."

"The results were clear."

Instagram | @shannondingle

"I was six weeks pregnant, and seventh grade was starting at the end of the month."

At six weeks, when she had only just found out, she would already have been ineligible for an abortion under Alabama law, even though she had had no say in getting pregnant in the first place. But then, 12-year-olds never have a say in the matter.

Still, Shannon recalls being somewhat optimistic about it.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"I felt like this pregnancy brought hope, so much so that I named the baby inside me Hope. I was sure Hope's existence would bring about change. No one could deny my abuse with genetic proof."

Shannon felt compelled to carry the baby.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"I thought my parents would make me quietly get an abortion if I told them, so I didn't. I carried Hope and secrets into seventh grade."

Think about that for a moment.

Shannon had a miscarriage back then, "before I knew what one was."

Instagram | @shannondingle

But she's had many years to think on that experience, and the recent spate of highly restrictive abortion laws have her thinking about it all again, and the thoughts of a survivor are worth listening to.

"I need you to know that any child's pregnancy is the result of rape, because no child can consent to sex," she wrote.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"I need you to know that any child's pregnancy is traumatic, no matter the outcome, because little girls aren't supposed to have full wombs."

Shannon emphasized the importance of girls knowing what their options are.

Instagram | @shannondingle

"I need to you know that I didn't know I had options, because I knew girls who got pregnant were called sluts and girls who had abortions were called murderers."

"I know responses to my story will include ones about how what happened to me is rare. I'm the exception, not the norm, they'll say."

Instagram | @shannondingle

"But I need you to know that every story is unique. Every discussion of abortion between a woman and her doctor is different."

"Something that might put one mother's life or health at risk might not be a problem for someone else."

Instagram | @shannondingle

"This is why abortion can't be dictated by legislators. This is why abortion decisions must be made individually, between a woman and her doctor," she wrote.

If anybody knows, it's Shannon.

In Ohio, an 11-year-old is in a situation similar to Shannon's and has found herself becoming a political prop during the legislative process.

Instagram | @shannondingle

The unnamed girl was repeatedly raped by a 26-year-old and impregnated, CBS News reported, and under that state's law, would be forced to carry her rapist's baby to term.

Even before that law was passed, the girl would have had to argue her case to a judge or receive parental consent.

h/t: USA Today

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