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Anonymous but not Ashamed

by Anonymous

June 12, 2019

Most people who know me think I’m an open book. It’s true that I’m very emotionally transparent  – I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, and I tend to feel things deeply and with a heightened sensitivity that at times can feel like more of a burden than a blessing. That said, there are certain events in my life that I’m not so open about.

 

There’s one event that I’ve kept secret from most people in my life, not because I’m ashamed of it, but because there’s a very vocal segment of American society that expects me to be ashamed – and fear of reprisal, attention and attacks have kept me from saying anything. And that event is the abortion I had roughly 7 years ago.

 

I’m trying to find a way to talk about it more openly now because storytelling, as painful as it can be, is the way we find connection and solidarity, and normalize things. Keeping these stories to ourselves only helps the opposition thrive. Coming out of the darkness forces them to reckon with who we really are and destroys the myths and negative rhetoric they’ve created about women like me.

 

The circumstances of my abortion shouldn’t be important, but their specificity I think shows the range of situations women find themselves in when they make their decision. My unplanned pregnancy occurred when I was with a long term partner (my now husband); we were using condoms (I wasn’t on hormonal birth control because a therapist had advised against it after it seemed like it had contributed to some depressive episodes). In this respect, I felt extremely unlucky – I felt like I had made the best decisions I could for my mind and body, and my worst nightmare had still come to pass. On top of that, my professional situation was precarious. My boss had been recently laid off, creating an uncertain future for the department I was a part of at my agency, and I was in the midst of an intense job hunt. It was a bad time for me to be pregnant, let alone give birth and potentially raise a child.

 

In many, many other respects though, I was ridiculously lucky. I found out I was pregnant only a few days after my missed period, thanks to what had been up to that point a very regular menstrual cycle. I was able to easily find an abortion provider and quickly schedule an appointment. I had an HSA with plenty of money to cover the procedure. I was also early enough along to avoid getting a D&C. I was able to have a medical abortion which involved taking some pills orally and a few others intravaginally. I was in a lot of physical pain that day, but it passed, and I was able to go about my life freely. I felt no regret or guilt, only relief that it was over.

 

Since my abortion, I’ve thought a lot about the women who find themselves in the situation I was in who don’t have all the privileges I had – they don’t have much money, or providers nearby, or the ability to take off from work. I think about the anxiety and terror they must feel. They’re not only pregnant when they desperately don’t want to be; they also have to contend with the difficulties that come from lack of access. And that access is under even greater, more vicious attack than ever before.

 

It’s clear that the people championing and passing these laws don’t care about “innocent life.” They want women to suffer for being sexual beings. They want to use pregnancy and motherhood as a punishment for what they deem “irresponsible” sexual behavior, which is perverse and medieval. Becoming a mother and raising children can be a beautiful thing – but it’s something you should want and be able to choose. It shouldn’t be something that just happens to you.

 

I’m angry and upset that women have to constantly tell these stories in order to have things that should be rightfully ours without debate. At the same time though, telling this story, here, and to many other people over the last few weeks has helped me feel less alone, and part of a community and a movement much greater than myself.

 

So, thanks for reading. If you’ve been where I’ve been, I hope this helps you feel seen. If you haven’t, I hope this helps you understand. If you find yourself where I’ve been in the future, know that I’m here to help you and support you in whatever way you need. Things may get worse before they get better, but at least now know we have each other to lean on.

 

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!