I told anyone who would listen that I would get one if I ever got pregnant.

by Haley Joy Kleine

October 17, 2016

Dear Amelia,

When we spoke at the Taco or Beer event in August, you asked me why I was there and why access to abortion mattered to me. It seemed as if you were giving me the opportunity to shout my abortion to you, which I’m sure many folks have done before. I didn’t do this because I have never had an abortion. I stuttered out some flimsy string of words like, “Well, why would I not be for abortion??” That is what I believe, but it’s not why #ShoutYourAbortion is so important to me.

The real answer, which I stopped myself from saying because I know how it sounds, is that I don’t like kids. I never want to have kids and it’s been that way for my entire life. I have never had an abortion, but ever since I knew what one was, I told anyone who would listen that I would get one if I ever got pregnant.

I don’t like this answer because it makes me sound like a kid-hating baby-killer, just what the fake doctor at the crisis pregnancy centered ordered. But while I don’t want kids and I don’t always like hanging out with them, I love people. I love who kids become. My best friend has a thirteen-year-old cousin who lives in Decatur, Georgia and when I met him and he explained his torah portion for his upcoming bar mitzvah, it blew my mind. When I coached high school lacrosse I got to teach some tough, wacky, incredible young women. I just cried writing that last sentence…PMS? Yes. But also, I’m a huge softie. As much as kids annoy the shit out of me, they touch my heart so profoundly.

I want those kids to come into this world safely and happily. I want them to be adored and desired by their families. I want them to have all of the opportunities the world has for them, including the opportunity to receive abortions should they need or want them. I know we in the pro-choice community understand this sentiment, that those who support abortion are not baby-killers. That in fact, we believe we are doing far more for the wellbeing of children than the pro-lifers. But I still feel that a little explanation is in order for my personal reasons for celebrating abortion.

I’ve been surrounded by pro-choice folks my whole life and it wasn’t until college that I shocked someone with my statement of intent to maybe get an abortion someday. He seemed almost personally insulted. I don’t remember what conversation followed, if any, but that moment stuck with me. I can’t say that it made me question my stance, but I did take a moment to remember that, oh yeah, this is a controversial topic. I had another moment like this when, like Lindy wrote in Shrill, I had to come to grips with the fact that abortions aren’t just performed in hospitals by your normal doctor. Still can’t wrap my head around that one. I lied, I can. It’s the patriarchy.

I’ve been thinking recently about my relationship with abortion. Even though I was very open about my appreciation for the procedure, I also treated it like something that I shouldn’t take lightly. I was very careful to use lots of forms of birth control. Even in long-term relationships I was always a pill and condoms kind of girl. Abortions are not cheap. If you can avoid an expensive medical procedure, by all means, avoid that shit. But I wonder if my need to obsessively layer birth control methods is reminiscent of some of that pro-life shame. The thinking is, if I took all of those precautions and still got pregnant, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about an abortion. But if I was careless, or, like most cisgender people in monogamous heterosexual relationships do, only used one form of birth control, and then got pregnant, I might feel guilty about an abortion. I don’t know if that would have been the case, but I hope I would have happily and proudly gone to my local Planned Parenthood to get an abortion.

So that’s the long answer to your question. Our stories are ours to tell and this is my story. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Love,

Haley Joy Kleine