I was 18. A freshman in college. I sat in the university health clinic, flanked by two pro-life friends. I had made a beginner’s mistake : taking antibiotics while on the pill. I had come back to the dorms from Christmas break, pregnancy test in hand, and sat in the dorm bathroom for two hours, staring at the positive sign staring back at me. This clinic visit would provide me with a confirmation of the inevitable and arm me with a boatload of information to wade through.
News traveled quickly. I told the guy I had been dating that there was a baby on board, an awkward conversation that I kicked my roommate out of the room for. I remember him standing up, fists clenched, and demanding me to tell him what I planned to do about it. The girls on my floor knew. My RA knew. Hell, the housing director of the building even knew, and all he wanted was for me to go to church.
I grew up in an ultra-conservative, Southern Baptist household. I went to church, taught Sunday School, graduated at the top of my class, had a full ride to any school I wanted to, was an accomplished horse back rider with buckets of ribbons under my belt. I was, for all intents and purposes, the golden child that I was raised to be. I never told my parents or anyone else in my family.
I made my appointment and told my professors that I would be absent. The guy I was dating drove me the morning of, dropping me at the door and telling me that he’d be back in a few hours. I sat in a small waiting room with a handful of other women. I was the second in line for the day. A kind nurse ushered me from place to place, including a face to face meeting with another kind woman that explained what would happen, how I would most likely feel, and what to expect in the days to come. I had an ultrasound, which showed a tiny clump of something hanging out on the side of my uterus. The nurse didn’t say a word, just noted the gestational age and sent me on my way.
They gave me valium. I slipped off the toilet and laughed hysterically, stuck between the wall and the porcelain. The nurse pulled me out, patting my shoulder and asking if I was ready. Sure – of course I was – what did I have to lose? I had never had a pelvic exam before, and I was getting ready to go through something that I had been led to believe was a horrific, traumatizing experience. I panicked a little bit. The doctor, a tall, black man, came in, saying comforting things and explaining things as he went.
As quickly as it started, it was over. The doctor waited outside the door while the nurse helped me get dressed, gave me a hug and walked me to the recovery area. The one person ahead of me, a young girl of 15 with a 12 week old baby in a bucket-type car seat at her feet, sobbed in her chair. I was covered with a blanket, given a blanket and told to relax. I listened to the girl tell me about her situation, about her daughter, about the choices that she made. My ride came, and I wished her well, leaving her there in her feelings.
He deposited me in my dorm, bringing me a plate of baby carrots and a peanut butter sandwich. I never saw him again. My roommate told me that she would pray for my soul. The rest of the girls on my floor refused to acknowledge it, asking why I would choose to kill my baby. I never struggled with my decision. For a long time, I felt that there was something wrong with me. For as long as I could remember, I was told that abortion was this horrific, terrible thing – that women that had abortions lived with an incredible amount of guilt and sadness. I never experienced that.
A few years later, I met my husband. We have three healthy, wonderful boys that have witnessed their Mother sport Planned Parenthood gear, march for women’s rights and advocate for those that need it. I own a successful small business and am a well respected member of my community. My abortion was 14 years ago next month. I live in a state where a conservative government is attempting to restrict abortion in every way they can. The clinic that performed my abortion will officially close in a little over a week, leaving a huge chunk of my state without an abortion provider. I do not and will not regret the choice that I made, and I will continue to fight for the women here that may find themselves in the same place one day.