From trauma to civic engagement: Tacoma mom breaks decades long silence to protect vulnerable teens

by Roberta Riley

MykleAnn kept it bottled up all these years, the memory of the night she’d gone off to a party in Tacoma, looking for fun, and wound up getting raped.

She was just 14 years old.

Bloodied and bruised, she never uttered a word to anyone out of fear that if her father found out, he would kill the guy and end up in prison.

She became pregnant as a result of the rape. “Thank goodness Indian Health Services and Planned Parenthood were there for me when I needed help,” she reflects. “I probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school and gone to college if I’d been forced to go through with that pregnancy.”

Decades later, at midlife, MykleAnn is the mother of three. She works at the Muckleshoot Casino and lives in Tacoma, WA. Her father passed, never knowing of the trauma she bore alone all those years ago.

Recently, however, MykleAnn learned that a state senator from her area, Steve O’Ban, was sponsoring legislation to cut off Planned Parenthood funding and restrict the rights of teenagers to have abortions without involving their parents. She was outraged. Why would this senator endanger vulnerable young women with such restrictions?

She knows from her own painful experience that some teens simply cannot safely tell their parents. Fear of her father’s anger and violence literally kept her mute for decades. And so, on behalf of all the younger women who are too frightened to tell their stories, MykleAnn decided to break her silence.

She joined a group protesting outside of O’Ban’s office. “Women need access to birth control and abortion,” she chanted. She hoped for the opportunity to look this man in the eye, share her story and ask him to rethink his proposed legislation.

O’Ban did not come outside.

But MckleAnn didn’t give up. Recently, she attended a public forum for the 28th Legislative District of Washington.

Though O’Ban was invited, he didn’t show up.

But that didn’t stop MykleAnn. When the time came, she stepped up to the microphone and told her story. One could have heard a pin drop in the room as she choked back tears. Then, with the determination of a mother protecting her loved ones, she explained why it’s so important for teens to be able seek the confidential advice of trained medical professionals. As she spoke, a burden lifted and MykleAnn discovered her voice as a citizen.

Check out her video here

Chain Gang Protest Against Sen. O’Ban Highlights Voting Criminal to Women

IMG_4041 University Place, Wash. — Friday, May 13, 2016 — Community members led by Washington Community Action Network (CAN) protested Thursday in front Sen. Steve O’Ban’s campaign launch in University Place to call attention to his voting practices regarding women’s equity issues including reproductive rights, paid sick days and gender pay equity. Protesters dressed as a “chain gang” aimed to disrupt the event and inform attendees that O’Ban’s voting practices are criminal to women.

“As a community organization fighting for economic justice, Washington CAN recognizes that women are central to our families and our economy,” said Washington Community Action Network Co-Executive Director Mary Nguyen. “Senators like Steve O’Ban needs to expand health care access for women and trust that we will make healthy decisions for our bodies, family, and community.”

O’Ban, incumbent candidate of the state’s 28th Legislative District, has consistently voted against legislation that extends women’s reproductive rights including a bill in 2013 that would have required insurance companies to provide reproductive health services as part of the benefits they offer. He also sponsored a bill in the most recent session that would require minors to notify their parents of their need for abortion services.

“As a teenager, I was raped and had an abortion as a result of that crime,” said Washington CAN member MykleAnn Mora. “O’Ban’s proposed bill would have restricted the free choices teenagers deserve when they choose not to involve their parents.”

This protest supports the Stand With Women campaign that aims to update the rules with the basic idea that women should be equal participants in society and have reproductive freedom, equal pay and policies that support pregnant women in the workplace.