It's one of those stories you hate to write about, especially as an advocate for reproductive health. A 13 year-old girl in Pennsylvania, who had allegedly been in a sexual relationship with a 30-year-old man for over a year, tried to induce an abortion by using a lead pencil. It's a stark reminder of what happens when a desperate woman (or in this case child) gets pregnant and will do anything to end the pregnancy when there are no safe means available.
From the Morning Call:
A Poconos man who got a 13-year-old pregnant and then covered up the girl's self-induced "home abortion" last week was charged Monday with rape and concealing the death of a child, police said.
Michael James Lisk, 30, of Polk Township was arrested after the girl was treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest on Sunday for complications from the abortion, which she started Wednesday by using a pencil, state police at Lehighton said.
The girl's actions made her violently ill for three days, and she went into contractions before delivering the baby at her home, police said.
There are numerous things about the account that would make any person ill. But most disturbing is that the victim could likely have died without medical help, all because she had no choice but to try to abort on her own.
Feministe summarizes my thoughts exactly in their post:
I’m not sure what more can even be said about this case. I don’t believe that sex between a 30-year-old and a 13-year-old can ever be consensual; we also know that many extreme age-disparate relationships involve rape. And yes, this girl obviously needed access to safe abortion care; if she had such access, she wouldn’t have had to self-induce abortion with a lead pencil. Abortion access would have lessened this tragedy by a significant degree. It’s shameful that, under the guise of caring about children and babies, anti-choice groups seek to limit abortion access for women and girls.
But she needed a lot more than that. And her community and her culture — the people who are supposed to tell her that she’s important, that she’s loved, that she deserves pleasure, that she deserves autonomy — failed her. We fail girls all the time. We put girls in impossible, heart-wrenching positions. We give girls little autonomy and few options, and then we’re surprised when they act like animals caught in traps.
Predators like Michael James Lisk, her “boyfriend,” are entirely responsible for the crimes they commit. But this girl needed a safety net, and she did not have one.
Of course, in typical "pro-life" fashion, LifeNews spins a 13-year-old in the hospital as a victory for the movement, because having access to a safe abortion would mean that sure, the teenager might have been more unscathed, but the alleged rapist might not have been caught as quickly.
>Bryan Kemper, the head of Stand True, a pro-life group reaching out to youth and young adults, informed LifeNews.com of the incident and commented on it.
He said it would not have ever made the news had the girl used an abortion drug and aborted the baby at home instead of engaging in a self-induced abortion.
"I am sure this story probably has most people wanting to vomit and cry at the same time as their hearts break for this little girl. I would also guess however that many of those same people would not even bat an eye if her method of killing her child had been a RU 486 prescription from the local Planned Parenthood," Kemper said.
"I would goes as far as saying many would praise her for making such a brave choice," he added. "The method of killing the child should not matter."
About abortion advocates and their reaction to the story, Kemper said: "I can also hear the spin now, 'this is why we need safe and legal abortion,'" -- even though abortions are already legal and are supposed to prevent such self-induced abortions.
Kemper says he's glad Lisk was arrested and hopes he is brought to justice for his alleged crimes.
"If the girl had gone to Planned Parenthood he would probably still be raping her as I doubt they would have turned him in," Kemper explained.
Needless to say, Kemper is wrong. As a parental consent state, Pennsylvania does not have legal access to abortion for a young teen. But as always, anti-choice advocates don't let facts, or a young women's health, get in the way of their argument.