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Indiana congressional candidate discusses her own abortion amid SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

Jeannine Lee Lake was a student at Ball State University when she had an abortion after what she described as "a date rape situation."

INDIANAPOLIS — Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade hit close to home for Jeannine Lee Lake, a Democrat who is running to represent Indiana’s 5th Congressional District this fall.  

That’s because Lake herself had an abortion in college and said she used to be ashamed of it. Now it’s become part of her message on the campaign trail. 

“I always said if I was going to run for Congress, ‘What if it came out? What if everybody found out?’” said Lake.

So instead of waiting for that day to come, ten years ago at her church Muncie, where she works in various ministries, Lake started talking about the abortion she had as a freshman at Ball State University when she was just 17 years old. 

“I experienced a date rape situation. It was very violent, and I went into what I say was an emotional tailspin,” Lake explained

She said had a steady boyfriend at the time when she found out she was pregnant a short time later. 

“I knew at some point I would be a good mom, but I also knew at 18 years old, barely 18 years old, that this was not the time for me to do that,” Lake said. 

RELATED: Some US clinics stop doing abortions as ruling takes hold

So, Lake, the daughter of a Christian pastor, raised in the evangelical tradition, had an abortion. 

“I struggled with, ‘Will God love me if I make this decision?’ Lake said she asked herself. “I struggled with, ‘What if someone finds out this is the decision I’ve made?’” 

Credit: Jeannine Lee Lake
Jeannine Lee Lake is the daughter of a Christian pastor.

Lake told her parents shortly after she had the abortion. 

“I didn’t want to tell them at first, because I blamed myself in a way,” she said. 

More than 30 years later, though, Lake still believes she made the right choice for herself and hasn’t shied away from discussing it in her previous two congressional campaigns in 2018 and 2020, both of those runs, for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District. 

RELATED: Indiana leaders, lawmakers react to SCOTUS abortion decision

“There were women that came out of the woodwork to tell me their stories,” Lake recalled, who said she’s continuing to tell her story again during this campaign, something she feels even more compelled to do after Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court. 

“Emily, I cried when I found out and that is the truth,” Lake told 13News about Friday's decision

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz, who Lake is challenging, tweeted out her response to Friday’s ruling, saying: 

“We should remember that in a Constitutional Republic, the Supreme Court has the ultimate say on constitutional issues. I support the Court’s decision and encourage my fellow Americans to respect it too regardless of personal views.” 

For Lake, it’s all personal and private. She’s gone public, though, in part to make a point. 

“People with level heads and good hearts might still choose abortions,” she said. 

And, like Lake, run for Congress, lending a first-hand perspective to the abortion debate. 

“It’s really not a decision that I should be making for anybody else or anybody else should be making for me,” Lake said. 

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