first person logo, blue background with the words First person written in capital letters
Compelling personal stories told by the people living them.

Editor’s note: This poem contains references to sexual assault and trauma.

I wrote this poem to help myself process the grief and anger I was feeling at the reversal of Roe v. Wade. I hope that having the courage to share it will inspire others to share their stories as well. Together, we can humanize those who are impacted by having lost their reproductive freedoms and protect those whose rights are currently on the line here in Pennsylvania. Our stories matter and so do our futures.

American Monsters

I was taken without permission, 
I was young, and shamed, and scared.
I’d close my eyes and try to dream, 
But the Monster was always there.

I prepared a plan alone in my room.
I researched where I could go.
In case I was pregnant at the age of sixteen,
By someone who I had told “No.”

The weeks went by and my cycle began,
Hallelujah! My secret stays mine!
I can keep it forever and eat the shame,
The Monster should fade with time.

Twenty years passed & the Monster still lives,
He stuck for decades in my mind.
But now it’s time to let my secret out,
For women’s rights are on the line.

In 2001, I had a plan,
One that would keep my future intact.
In 2022, the Monster has won,
I want our freedom back!

Maybe I’d be given an exception?
After all, it was an assault.
Of course, that’s if they believed me,
They’d probably say it’s my fault.

America, I want to love you,
But you have to love me in return!
So for now I’ll have two Monsters,
Because Roe has been overturned. 

—Poem by Stephanie Graf, a Pittsburgh resident and mother. If you want to reach Stephanie, please email

We don't have paywalls — but your support helps us bridge crucial information gaps.

Readers tell us they can't find the information they get from our reporting anywhere else, and we're glad to provide this important service for our community. We work hard to produce accurate, timely, impactful journalism without paywalls that keeps our region informed and moving forward.

However, only about .1% of the people who read our stories contribute to our work financially. Our newsroom depends on the generosity of readers like yourself to make our high-quality local journalism possible, and the costs of the resources it takes to produce it have been rising, so each member means a lot to us.

Your donation to our nonprofit newsroom helps ensure everyone in Allegheny County can stay up-to-date about decisions and events that affect them. Please make your gift of support now.