Alyce Shelton-Pitter declares that she is not pro-abortion. She is pro-“It is none of your damn business. I don’t tell you what to do with your body, why do you tell me?” She fights so hard for a woman’s right to choose because she has three granddaughters. “I’ll be damned if I’ll have my granddaughters grow up with fewer rights than I had. That was 50 years ago [since Roe v. Wade was made into law]. We’re supposed to be moving forward. I feel like I have to fight. I can’t expect others to do it. This is my fight.” This is Alyce’s personal war for another reason. In 1973, when she was 11 years old, she had an abortion. It was the same year that Roe v. Wade was passed into law.

Alyce grew up in a middle-class African American household in Chicago. When she was in the 5th grade, her parents made the decision to take her and her sister out of public school and place them in a newly-integrated Catholic elementary school so that they would get a better education. Alyce matured faster than her other schoolmates. While they were still wearing training bras, she was wearing a 32-B. She began her menstrual cycle when she was 10. That same year, her parents decided to send her back to the YMCA summer camp. This was her second year attending the camp, along with many of her new friends. She had a great time last year and was excited.

Since she had developed so much over the past year, she decided to pull the wool over the camp counselor’s eyes and slip in the line with the 12–13-year-old girls, instead of the 10-11-year-old girls. She soon realized that was a big mistake. The older girls found out quickly enough that she didn’t belong, and they bullied her mercilessly. They made her the lookout when they did something they knew was wrong. They wouldn’t allow her to sleep, threatening her with further abuse if she did. Finally, after three or four nights without sleep, a blood vessel broke in her brain and she was rushed to the clinic. She was sent back to her bunkroom and told to get bed rest. Then, they put the ringleader of the girls who tormented her with instructions to watch Alyce.

It is difficult for Alyce to describe what happened next. “I was awakened by hands across my boobs. I was groggy, sleepy. I reached out and touched his head. I asked who he was. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ By then, my pants were already down. I must have slept through that. I managed to get up enough energy to push him off the bunk the first time, but he was back seconds later. I no longer had the strength to fight him off. He put his hands over my mouth so I couldn’t scream.”

Alyce didn’t tell anybody, but word soon got out, anyway. When she got back to school, she was called a “ho”. She didn’t even know who he was, although later she found out he was a 17-year-old junior counselor. When her school uniform became too tight around her, her mother asked her if she had allowed anybody to touch her. She finally told her mother everything. Her mother rushed her to the doctor. She was just shy of 12 weeks pregnant. She could get a legal abortion, a right now denied to women and girls in Florida.

Hear Alyce Shelton-Pitter speak and support her in her fight for women’s rights. Attend the June 24th Speakers Series “Right to Choose,” at 10:00 a.m. Rinker Environmental Learning Center, 230 E. Michigan Avenue, DeLand.

Sandra Haxton is a political writer and Activist, who strongly believes that all change begins on a local level. She is a member of NW Dems of Volusia County.