If you follow US political news at all, you have undoubtedly heard of Gloria Allred, the attorney who has represented many female clients in high-profile gender-related cases and who is currently taking on Donald Trump on behalf of Summer Zervos who says that she was defamed by Donald Trump when he publicly called her a liar for saying that he sexually assaulted her in 2007. Allred has been portrayed negatively by her opponents as a publicity-seeker whose expertise mostly lies in getting attention for her press conferences with the victims of abuse.
But this article by Marlow Stern says that her passion for these cases arises from her own traumatic experiences with rape and abortion.
In the mid-‘60s, Allred split from her husband after his bipolar disorder began posing a threat to their child’s well-being. A single mother, she moved with her young daughter, Lisa, from Philadelphia to sunny California. Shortly thereafter, and needing to blow off some steam, she took a trip with one of her girlfriends to Acapulco. There, she met a striking physician who was to take her out for a night on the town—but first, he said, he had to make some house calls. He guided Allred into a house, only no one was home. The man brandished a gun. Then he raped her.
It gets worse. The attack left her pregnant, and it being the 1960s, a safe, legal abortion wasn’t an option. So Allred was forced into a back-alley abortion. She went alone. The procedure left her hemorrhaging, and, losing considerable blood, she checked herself into the hospital, where she was placed in a ward with numerous other women who’d received the same procedure. Many of them didn’t make it. As Allred lay in recovery, the nurse tending to her looked her dead in the eye and said, “This will teach you a lesson.”
She says that being scolded with ‘This will teach you a lesson” when she was the victim infuriated her and put her on the path she is on today, representing those who are also shamed and blamed by the powerful for events that were not their fault.
A new documentary Seeing Allred was just released at the Sundance film festival and will be released on Netflix on February 9. Stern’s interview with Allred, and her relationship with her lawyer daughter Lisa Bloom, provides interesting insights into a person about whom we may have only superficial knowledge.
Here’s the trailer for the documentary.