Forty years ago, the Bobigny trial took place, a turning point in legalizing abortion in France. While not at the same legal level, it has the same impact in France as Roe v Wade.
The story is of a girl who was raped by a classmate at age 16. In many ways, it is your typical “how to get an abortion in times of illegality” story- it all boiled down to money (remember: when you make abortion illegal, the rich and well connected will always find a way to have one) and the young girl’s mother wound up taking her daughter to an illegal abortionist and then having to take her to the hospital for hemorrhaging.
As I said, the girl’s story is sadly banal as far as abortion stories go, with one catch. As an American living in the Todd Akin era, one point in the Bobigny trial case is crucial for me: The girl and her family were ratted out to police BY HER RAPIST, who got nabbed for some unrelated petty crime and hoped tattling would get him out of trouble. Are you with me here when I say rape is about power?
This situation wouldn’t happen in France today. But it could very easily, almost too easily, happen in the United States almost forty years later. This part of the story is a perfect example on why I see abortion rights as an extension both of feminism and reproductive health. I cannot even imagine the pain, injustice and indignity of being raped, getting pregnant by rape and going through an entirely unsafe abortion where she almost died, and then the anguish of going through a court trial also because of her rapist.
This is the reality of why people like Paul Ryan scare me. Rape may be “another means of conception” or when Todd Akin wants to redefine what rape is for the millions of women who have been raped. The Bobigny trial is ancient history in France but the post-Roe America is future TODAY. Look at all the women in jail for being pregnant. Look at the personhood movement. I can dig that people have religious or moral objections against abortion, but limiting access to abortion is when injustice like this happens.