I felt relief. I felt cared for.
I just wrote this as a response to a high school friend’s Facebook post. She posted some awful article about how it’s okay to shame women and call them “murderers” for having abortions because they’re terrible people. After I responded and said “hey, I had an abortion and I’m not a terrible person” she wrote back, describing how she it’s a shame that my poor choices lead to death and we took the same health class so I “must know where babies come from.” I’ve never put my abortion story in writing before but it just kind of came out so I thought I’d share it here before I lost track of it. This is my story, in the form of a Facebook response…
“Yes, we went to the same school and took the same health class. That’s where I learned about condoms, which my partner and I used every single time we had sex. Unfortunately, condoms are only effective 99% of the time even when used correctly. It broke. I immediately got up and looked at my calendar that I used to track my period and realized that I was probably ovulating. My partner and I waited an agonizing two weeks until I was due to get my period. During that time, we discussed our options. Neither of us was ready to be a parent. We were working and going to school and barely making it as it was. Having grown up with a mother who had been put up for adoption when her mother died and her father abandoned her, that wasn’t something I was comfortable doing. I didn’t want to bring a child into the world only to not be there for them. And even if that had not been the case, I was in the throes of one of my first battles with debilitating major depression and anxiety. I was already struggling with suicidal ideation. I didn’t have the emotional or physical strength to handle a pregnancy. So, two weeks later when I didn’t get my period and that $20 stick (you couldn’t get them at the dollar store back then) showed two lines instead of one, I cried for a while, mostly out of fear that someone was going to try to force me to have a baby. And then I called and made an appointment for ten days later. A counselor talked to me over the phone and made sure that I was safe (many women who have abortions are victims of domestic abuse) and that I had a safe way to get to the clinic (which was an hour away) and someone to come with me and drive me home. My partner borrowed a car and the money for the procedure. We both had the opportunity to speak with counselors and medical professionals at the clinic and ask as many questions as we wanted. My biggest fear was that someone was going to find out because I knew that there were people in my life who, no matter how much they claimed to love me, would think I was a bad person for having an abortion. Even though I knew it was right. When it was over, I felt relief. I felt cared for – by my partner, by the friend who helped us with the car and the money, by all of the kind, caring professionals at the clinic, and by the strong, brave women and men who fought to make abortion safe and legal so that I didn’t have to live in pain and fear or subject a child to a life with parents who weren’t equipped to care for them. It has been over 20 years now. I’ve been working all this time to keep abortion safe and legal and to free women of the stigma of abortion. It’s a big enough life changer without having to feel like a pariah on top of it. I will keep working until my last breath.
For over 20 years I’ve thought from time to time about what it would be like to have a daughter (I’ve always assumed it would have been a girl.) I know it would’ve been harder than I can even imagine. I know my life would look nothing like it does now. I may not have even made it this far. And I don’t really believe in heaven in a traditional sense. But I like to think that if I’m wrong and my girl is up there, looking down on me from a cloud, she’s proud of the woman I’ve become and all the good I’ve done.”