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'Hard enough to breathe': Reeling from SCOTUS ruling, advocate shares story of rape

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Posted at 11:10 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 23:13:07-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Elizabeth Trebelhorn was still trembling a bit as she spoke in front of the state Capitol Monday.

"It's hard enough to breathe every day," Trebelhorn said, speaking to LEX 18.

Trebelhorn agreed to speak to LEX 18 one day after she spoke at the same place but in front of a much larger audience.

During a rally Sunday in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that stripped women of their constitutional right to an abortion, Trebelhorn walked slowly up to the microphone.

"36 days ago," she began, as several women stood next to her in solidarity. "I was raped."

Speaking through tears, Trebelhorn told the crowd that she had taken Plan B after she was raped.

"I am so glad that I did not let my rapist have that power over me and that I'm not sitting here today afraid to get an abortion," Trebelhorn said Sunday.

In our conversation Monday, Trebelhorn explained that through her advocacy work, she usually remains behind the scenes, interpreting data and pushing policy proposals. She said Sunday was the first time she recounted her rape in front of a large crowd, but that it felt like a safe space.

"As hard as it was, afterward I just got a big breath of relief," she said. "And then every person that then came and hugged me afterward, it just healed me a little bit more."

Trebelhorn said the thought of being pregnant with her rapist's baby is "scary." In Kentucky, current legislation banning abortion does not make exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

"I can't imagine what mothers who have to carry their rapists' babies go through [with] the trauma in their brain and how that passes to their child," Trebelhorn said.

Trebelhorn said the SCOTUS decision felt like she was being re-traumatized.

"It feels like they've raped me and they've taken any decision that I can make about my body away from me," she said. "And I didn't give them consent for them to do that."