Being pro-choice doesn’t mean you have to have an abortion, right?

by Anonymous

November 22, 2021

Content Warning: rape

One year before I had an abortion, I was sexually assaulted. Date raped, I guess you’d call it.

Before that happened, I’d only had sex with one person, a long time boyfriend, and we’d recently broken up. I hardly knew the man who assaulted me. I’d been out with him on a date while traveling and had been clear that I did not want to have sex with him. So he waited until I was asleep in my bed in the hostel. I had been drinking and didn’t wake up right away. I thought it was my fault.

Afterwards, I was confused for a long time. It was over 30 years ago and I’m still confused. Why did he do that, when I had so clearly said no? I started to have sex with anyone I went out with, because the logic in my mind was that they were going to have sex with me whether I wanted to or not, it was better to make it my choice when to have sex, even if I barely knew them.

One year into this, I had sex with a guy I’d been seeing for a few weeks. I really liked him and he was very sweet and we got along well. We laughed a lot and did things together and I liked being around him. I was hopeful that we might have a relationship. He was going away traveling for a few months, but we planned to write to each other and keep seeing each other when he got back. The last time we were together before he left, the condom broke while we were having sex.

When my period was late, I knew right away that I was pregnant.

My mom is pro-choice and she’d told me from when I was 14 years old that if I ever got pregnant she’d help be get an abortion, no questions asked. You’d think that would make it easier, right? But it didn’t. Because I hated the assumption that I was going to have an abortion. That I had to. What kind of choice is that?

I booked the abortion myself, choosing the free one at the hospital, rather than the one that cost money at the private clinic. But I didn’t tell my mom. I took the time I needed to think about what I wanted to do. Did I want to have this baby? What would that be like? Being pro-choice doesn’t mean you have to have an abortion, right? I was nineteen years old.

The abortion itself was hard. I felt a lot of shame. Later I heard from others that had gone to the private clinic that they were treated very kindly by the nurses. At the hospital it was kind of an assembly line and I’m not sure the staff had a choice about working on that ward. I definitely had the feeling I was inconveniencing the staff and that they didn’t want to be there and that they were mad at all of the patients for getting pregnant. When I was lying on the gurney in the hallway after the procedure, a doctor came and looked down at me and handed me a prescription for the pill. No discussion. Then he moved on to the next person on the next gurney, wrote another prescription and ripped it off his pad. I felt so much shame in that moment.

I felt the shame for so long, until really recently actually. I felt shame for thirty years. I absorbed the message that it was my fault I’d gotten pregnant. Reading these Shout Your Abortion stories, and understanding the statistics around the chance of getting pregnant even while using birth control, I am starting to let go of that shame.

I never saw the father again. When he got back to town a few months later, I was so sad and confused that I told him I didn’t want to see him. It’s still hard to talk about. I have two beautiful children now, and in my mind I also have a shadow thirty-year old child.

An abortion was a very difficult choice for me, even though I am pro-choice, live in a place with universal health care and abortion access, and my family would have supported me if I’d told them. I’m so grateful that people are speaking out and sharing their stories here. It has helped me a lot to begin to heal the shame and realize it was not my fault, and that so many people face this choice.

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