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Women Hope To Sway Justices By Speaking Out About Abortion Experience

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow in a case igniting passions on all sides. It's about abortion, specifically a Texas law that's so restrictive that critics say it will force most of the state's abortion clinics to close. Women who have had abortions are talking about them in hopes of swaying the justices. They filed briefs both supporting and opposing the Texas law. Ohio State Representative Teresa Fedor has signed a brief opposing the law and joins us now. Welcome to the program.

TERESA FEDOR: Thank you.

CORNISH: Now you started speaking about your abortion during a debate over in Ohio abortion law. But can you talk about how you came to speak publicly?

FEDOR: Well, I've been a legislature for 16 years. Since I've been here, there have been a number of anti-abortion bills. And this last bill really was so extreme, called the Heartbeat Bill. And I just couldn't take one more floor speech, especially from men. And so something inside of me just said enough is enough. I stood up, was recognized, and I shared my story and basically said, you know, I have this freedom. I don't want this freedom taken away. And no one understands what I've gone through, being raped, and no one can walk in my shoes and judge me.

CORNISH: Why do you feel that the justices would find these particular personal narratives something that would change their minds?

FEDOR: Well, I know that the other side has 3,000 women that said they regret it or there's some aftermath psychologically, but that's not the case for all women. And I believe that there are more women who stand with me, but they're not - they're silent. And this shame and blame keeps them silent. So as a representative, I felt compelled to speak.

CORNISH: What were the circumstances of how you came to decide to have an abortion?

FEDOR: I was a single mom at the time, going to college, just out of the Air Force and was planning my life. And then going down that path, you run into an issue where you were violated, raped, and you found out you were pregnant. That is a devastating blow on the road that you're traveling.

CORNISH: How long did you keep this secret - the fact that you had been raped, the fact that you got an abortion? How long had you kept this secret?

FEDOR: Probably 25, almost - 25 years for sure.

CORNISH: So when you finally did decide to talk about it in the Ohio Statehouse, did you surprise yourself?

FEDOR: I knew about a year ago when we had the Heartbeat Bill, the end of December - a lame-duck session - that it was so extreme I didn't know if I would be able to sit in my chair and say nothing. And something just was pulling at my heart so strongly that I knew there would come a day I would have to tell my story if I stayed any longer in this place and if they kept doing these kinds of bills. So I felt it coming, but I didn't know when. I felt that I'm going to have to speak and share, and even if it didn't make any difference, it would be the voice of so many - not only myself, but other women as well.

CORNISH: Ohio State Representative Teresa Fedor, thank you so much for speaking with us.

FEDOR: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.