Frieda Bequeaith said she had an abortion and was physically and mentally unhealthy when she did. She was 15 years old and couldn’t carry her rapist’s baby to term – or it would have killed her, she said.
“I’m a better and stronger person today because of my abortion,” she said. “You have decided to prioritize restricting abortion access this legislative session. Shame on all of you for failing the people of Iowa during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bequeaith noted she told her story last year in front of a similar committee and begged legislators to see her as a human being deserving of life and happiness.
“But it’s clear you don’t see women as autonomous beings who deserve control over our bodies,” she said. “So I’m not going to grant you the privilege of hearing my story again today.”
She went on to talk about medical autonomy and her right to receive the care she needs.
“I have the right to receive the healthcare I need and I have the right to make decisions about my future,” she said. “I should feel protected in Iowa to get an abortion if I need one because I have medical autonomy over my body, just like we all should.”
She said it is “legally and ethically wrong” for the state of Iowa to protect unborn babies with the Life Amendment by restricting healthcare options.
“This amendment hurts pregnant people,” she said.
Bequeaith said people have had abortions “as long as they’ve been getting pregnant” and women will continue to find ways to have an abortion.
“These three old cis gross white men hold the power right now to make decisions about your body and your healthcare,” she said. “That’s not right. Now’s the time for direct action.”