• 19th News

‘My body is not yours’: How personal abortion stories are taking center stage in Democratic campaign

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham’s newest ad features a woman named Fran sharing her story of surviving a rape and getting an abortion at age 12, part of a growing trend in Democratic campaign ads.

Fran, a retired teacher and school administrator, narrates South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham’s newest campaign ad. She tells a deeply personal story of surviving a brutal rape — and getting an abortion — shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision in early 1973.

Fran says she was raped by two adult men who sent her home “walking in the dark, bleeding, and in pain.” She told no one about the assault but later discovered she was pregnant — and had an abortion without anesthesia.

“Roe versus Wade gave me the opportunity to become an educator, a mother and grandmother,” Fran says in the ad. “I did what was best for an 88-pound 12-year-old with no other options. I am a survivor of rape: My body is not yours, and it is not the state’s, it’s mine — yet our governor, Henry McMaster, wants to ban all abortions.”

Cunningham’s new ad, shared first with The 19th, is one of over a dozen Democratic television and digital advertisements that center on deeply personal, sometimes painful, abortion stories from patients and providers.

Democratic candidates and outside groups have spent millions on ads focusing on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

Many of their ads contrast stories like Fran’s with the positions of Republicans who have backed abortion bans with few or no exceptions, stances Democrats are hammering as extreme and out of step with the American people. Overwhelming majorities of voters oppose the overturning of Roe and strict abortion bans, especially those without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the patient, recent polls show.

“Victims of trauma do not owe anyone their story, but stories like Fran’s remind us of the cruel, dangerous impact that abortion bans will have on women and girls in South Carolina,” Cunningham, a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, said in a statement to The 19th.