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Abortion Rally Offers Other Side of ‘Silent Scream’

May 22, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ From dawn until deep in the night, women told their most personal stories into a microphone in the heart of the nation’s capital - stories of abortion and the guilt, anger, relief and other emotions it brought.

The women, describing their own abortions and reading letters from more than 1,000 others with similar experiences, took part Tuesday in a rally aimed at influencing a national debate they say focuses too much on unborn babies and not enough on the women who carry them.

Following the rally, which included speakers and letters representing every state, the women were to go to Capitol Hill today to lobby against possible new restrictions of access to abortion.

Tuesday’s ″national speak-out″ was also an attempt to recapture a bit of the national attention that has being going for nearly a year to discussion of ″The Silent Scream,″ a videotaped abortion with an emotional narration by an abortionist turned anti-abortion crusader.

That tape, which depicts sound-wave images of a fetus, never shows or mentions the woman carrying the fetus that is aborted, using only Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s dramatic account of what is happening in the womb.

Why, Ann Taylor Allen of Louisville, Ky., asked the gathering of more than 100, should he be able to make his case so forcefully ″while I am ashamed and embarrassed and afraid to speak?″

The fetus ″is given a scream while the woman in whose body it resides has no voice at all,″ she said, reading aloud a letter she had written to President Reagan. ″I am writing to give that woman a voice and a name: my voice and my name - silent no more 3/8″

Sherry Matulis of Peoria, Ill., also read from her letter to Reagan, who has pushed for a constitutional amendment outlawing most or all abortions.

She gave a graphic account of how she had sought and suffered through an illegal abortion after being raped 30 years ago. Then she said that in the name of all women who had died from such abortions, ″I want to tell you and the world today that to speak of a ‘right to life’ and deny simultaneously the right to live that life, fully and in accord with one’s own rational dictates, is the most odious of paradoxes.″

The demonstration got scant sympathy from the National Right to Life Committee, which quickly set up a news briefing at a hotel across the street.

At that briefing, two women who also had had abortions talked of their regret. And one of them, Patti Haywood-McKinney of the group Women Exploited by Abortion, said abortion ″cannot but result in deep psychic scarring.″

Any women at the rally who said they felt no remorse ″are the ones who are crazy ... when a woman can commit such a violent betrayal of what she is,″ she said.

At the rally, few women described their experiences as being devoid of mental pain - although a few did.

Most said they felt they had no other choice after getting pregnant - through their own fault or faulty contraceptives - when they were too young, too poor or too immature to be good mothers.

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