Katie Hill was just 18 years old when she found out she was pregnant, and now, she hopes that by sharing her story, she can win a seat in Congress to help protect other women's right to choose.
Hill shared a moving and unusually honest video on her Facebook page on Oct. 6 — just three days after the House passed the 20-week abortion ban — going public about her own unplanned pregnancy. In Hill's emotional message, she shares her own experience as a living testament to the damage she says laws like this can wreak — and as evidence why we must trust women to make their own decisions about terminating a pregnancy. Notably, Hill is running in California's 25th district against Republican Steve Knight, who voted yes on the bill.
Hill says she was on birth control when she got pregnant. "It's not something I ever thought would happen to me," she says in the video. "And if it did happen I thought I knew what I would do in that situation. I'd always considered myself pro-choice . . . but what I didn't know was what it would actually feel like to be faced with that kind of choice." Hill says her family, friends, and boyfriend — to whom she is now married — were fully supportive of whatever decision she made, but despite it, she never felt "more alone" than when faced with a choice she knew only she could make it.
Hill had a miscarriage as she was deciding whether she would go forward with or terminate her pregnancy. "I started sobbing with simultaneous tears of relief, and sadness, and guilt at feeling relief, and confusion at feeling sad," she remembers in the video. Now, Hill wants her story to serve as a powerful reminder of how important it is that women are empowered and allowed to make these intensely personal and often difficult decisions.
"The thing that I've learned from this whole experience is that no one can really understand what it's like to be faced with that kind of a choice," Hill says, "and that it's a decision that only a woman in that situation can make. Her family can't make it for her. Her partner can't make it for her. And the government most certainly can't make it for her."
Hill told POPSUGAR she's been overwhelmed by positivity since sharing her story. "So far the response has been amazingly supportive. Women, especially, have been really grateful for me sharing my story because it's made them feel like they can start to share theirs," Hill said. "We've allowed this conversation to be taboo for too long. Women should be able to talk openly — and not feel ashamed — about such an intense, emotional experience."
Hill says one woman emailed her shortly after she posted the video to share her own experience with seeking an abortion at 20 weeks. She did so after discovering her baby would almost certainly die shortly after being born due to a severe birth defect.
"As for this 20-week ban in particular, what most people don't know is that the vast majority of these kinds of abortions happen with wanted pregnancies, making it incredibly traumatic," Hill told POPSUGAR. The woman who wrote her said she had tried for years with her husband to become pregnant and was "devastated" to learn that the fetus was not viable. "She had to walk past pro-life picketers to get the procedure. They could never have understood her grief, or how badly she wanted that baby, or how much she struggled to know if she was doing the right thing, or what if the test was wrong, or what if this was her only chance," Hill said. "And because of the taboo, especially of late-term abortions, she's never felt like she could talk about it with people — even other women."
Hill, who was previously the executive director and CEO of PATH — a nonprofit dedicated to combating homelessness — lives on a farm in Agua Dulce, CA, with her husband, where they foster rescue animals. While she's already devoted her career to public service, it's also clear that Hill was galvanized to run in 2018 given the current political climate and, in part, its hostility to women's reproductive rights.
"The fact that women make up less than 20 percent of Congress — less than Afghanistan — is an absolute shame," Hill told POPSUGAR. "We will never have true equality until we have equal representation. Our bodies and our interests will always be at risk, and that's unacceptable. We're seeing it now with HR36 and the birth control ruling, and we're just getting started under this administration. Women are leading the resistance, and we need to continue to do so."