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Dear Ms. Kay Ivey

by Sarah

May 18, 2019

Content Warning: attempted suicide, addiction

I am not a resident of Alabama however, I stand in solidarity with the numerous Alabama residents impacted by the bill you signed into law making an abortion a felony – both for women and men – leaving those seeking this alternative with no safe options. Let me tell you a little bit about me and why I support a woman’s right to choose.

When I was 19 years old, I walked into an abortion clinic through a group of people calling me names and spewing words of hatred, with one woman making death threats. It was the most horrific experience of my life – the guilt, the shame, the feeling of being misunderstood. I lost my mother one year prior to metastatic breast cancer, a disease that our family watched slowly rob her of her being. My mother and father divorced when I was 13 years old and I chose to stay with my father, not because I loved him more but because I couldn’t fathom leaving my hometown. During those years, I watched my father crumble even further into his addiction to alcohol. I was not capable, as a young teenager, of dealing with the divorce, my mother’s illness, and living with a raging alcoholic who almost burned down our house one time when he passed out drunk with a cigarette in his hand.

My father also had another obsession, women. He loved to watch and look at pornography. I grew up in a household where women weren’t viewed as human beings but rather as objects – here solely for a man’s pleasure. My view of womanhood was skewed. Like my father, I caved into my own battle of addiction. I drank until I blacked out. I did drugs to numb the pain I couldn’t and didn’t know how to deal with. In truth, I was alone. I gave myself to any boy who wanted me. I did this not for pleasure’s sake – Lord knows how much I hated each and every minute of it – but rather, I did it to try and feel something that people call love. I didn’t know what it meant to be loved or to love yourself. I so desperately needed someone to love me at a time when my world was falling apart.

When my mother was in the hospital, my sisters and family went up there to be with her. Days before she passed away, she called everyone into her hospital room to share what would be her last words. She begged me to not get pregnant. She wanted me to achieve things that she hadn’t. She instilled so much fear in me at that moment, to this day, I do not have children. I was only 18 years old. I promised her that I would grow up and be different. Days later, I lost the only person who was capable of genuinely showing me love. My life spiraled out of control and I fell into such darkness that I no longer cared if I lived or died. Twice I attempted to commit suicide and numerous times almost died from my excessive alcohol use. While I may not be religious, I do believe that my mother was somehow protecting me. Because I should’ve died but I didn’t.

I was 19 years old when I had my first abortion. It was in Seattle and it was with a man who accompanied me to the clinic in full support of the decision I have made but ultimately we have made together. This was a man who was also battling his own demons with drinking and drug use. We were broke – I was in art school, he was working in a bakery. I later moved to Montana with him and that was where I had some awakening and decided the life I was living wasn’t the life I was meant to live. We vowed, together, to clean up and stop what we were doing. But I came home one night after work and found him and his buddies snorting cocaine in our kitchen. I left. Leaving that world so far behind me.

Fast forward to today almost 20 years later – 20 years after my abortion. I am a nurse. I was a high school science teacher. I was a volunteer at a needle exchange clinic. I was a mentor. I was an advocate for those who didn’t have the golden upbringing that so many do. I am and will always be empathetic. I was and will always be someone who believes that women have the right to choose and that politics should play no part in this area just as much as religion should play no part in politics. Ms. Kay Ivey, I implore that you take some time to ponder the lives you will ultimately change for years to come. These lives are not yours to regulate based upon what you deem acceptable. You must set aside your biases and see through religion and politics. You must be a servant and advocate for the people of Alabama, not a political puppet. Be truthful and honest and think about the ramifications of your decision.

I would not be where I am today had I of had that child. I want you to think about what I was like when I was 19 years old. That child would’ve grown up inundated in a life of drugs and alcohol – the very same environment I grew up in. Sometimes when we choose to have an abortion, we are also saving a life and sometimes that life is our own.

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