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17 and Pregnant in Small Town U.S.A.

by Anonymous

July 21, 2018

Content Warning: coercion, rape

When I found out that I was pregnant I had just started my Freshman year of college. Both I and my boyfriend were 17 at the time, and we didn’t even know if we wanted to be parents someday let alone now. We lived in Small Town U.S.A., where teen pregnancy meant teen marriage or the pregnant girl would be leaving town unexpectedly, so I was extremely paranoid and we were very cautious when we had sex, using condoms every time. I knew I was pregnant almost immediately. I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my mother where I could say, “Mom, I think I’m pregnant,” so early one September morning I secretly carted my urine sample to my university’s health center, and the nurse came back with the news. “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” she said. “I’m having an abortion,” was my reply.

In hindsight (25 years later), I don’t remember how I knew about abortion as an option. It certainly wasn’t discussed openly by anyone I knew, and that was not an option I was given at the health center. Due to my age, I had to go through judicial bypass, which meant meeting with an attorney that I found through the local women’s center and then having a court hearing. All the while, I tried hiding my pregnancy from my parents which, in the end, was unsuccessful because of morning sickness. Severe morning sickness. I couldn’t even walk from my house to my car without getting sick. My parents shamed me tremendously, and wanted nothing to do with my little problem. Since I’d already made the decision to have an abortion and the court documents needed for judicial bypass were obtained before they found out, I was beyond really needing their help anyway. I’d secured the funding for the abortion, $500, half through a local abortion fund and half through my boyfriend’s parents (they, at least, were supportive of my decision).

My abortion ended up being scheduled for the day after my 18th birthday, so I hadn’t needed to go through the judicial bypass process after all. The abortion itself was uneventful. Since this was long before the days of an abortion pill, my abortion was a D&C.  The doctor (a woman) was kind and we talked through the entire process. I was completely awake for it, and remember everything that happened. Afterward, my boyfriend was not emotionally supportive; he wanted to pretend that nothing had happened and wanted to resume sex as soon as I stopped bleeding, even though I’d been told by my doctor to wait 6 weeks and I wasn’t interested in sex then anyway. It took me a long time to call his actions “rape”, and it’s something I struggle with to this day. We broke up before I finished my Freshman year of college.

In a way, I consider it karma to have been a pregnant teenager. Before my pregnancy I was extremely pro-life, and harshly judged any of my female schoolmates who were pregnant. I believed that pregnancy only resulted from unprotected sex, and that if a woman got pregnant, she should be forced to keep the baby and “learn her lesson.” All that changed once I was pregnant, and I have been an advocate for reproductive rights since that day.

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