A candidate for the US Congress from Louisiana took on her state's recently tightened abortion law in an unusually intimate campaign commercial. Democrat Katie Darling shared a video earlier this week on her social media channels showing herself being wheeled into a hospital in a wheelchair while heavily pregnant. A few moments later you can see the 36-year-old in labor and giving birth to the child. At the end of the recording she has her newborn son lying on her breast. As of Thursday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 1.1 million times on Twitter alone.
"These days, I worry about storms becoming stronger and more frequent due to climate change, about the poor public schools our children have, and about Louisiana's new abortion ban, one of the strictest and toughest in the country," says Darling, who is still a six year-old daughter added, "We should reassure pregnant women and not put their lives at risk."
Louisiana, like several other Republican states, has largely banned abortion after the US Supreme Court upheld abortion rights in June by overturning the Roe v. Wade had tipped. The ban applies as soon as heart activity has been detected in the fetus - i.e. after about the sixth week, when women often do not even know that they are pregnant. The new regulation only provides for exceptions if the life of the pregnant woman is threatened. Victims of rape or incest, on the other hand, have to carry their children to term.
"I wanted to let you know that this is real to me," Darling told the Associated Press about her campaign ad. "I'm literally the one hooked up to machines and IVs in the hospital bed and having a birth, and no one else should be deciding how I go about it."
The candidate and her team weren't surprised that her video caused such a stir on social media, although none of her other posts had generated more than 60 retweets until then, as reported by "USA Today". "We expected it," said Darling. "We knew it needed a special message, so we thought about the content and what it meant."
Darling, who used to be the executive director of a New Orleans rum distillery and now works as an account manager for an education technology company, reported that the overturning of the Roe v. Wade persuaded her to enter the race for the seat of MPs. "Reproductive rights and health are the foundation of my campaign," she explained. "I think a lot of people can relate to having a family and dealing with the challenges we face in Louisiana - climate change, education and a strict anti-abortion regime. That's why the ad resonated with so many people finds."
Sources: Katie Darling on Twitter, Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press