I got pregnant on the night of my 17th birthday. I was a senior in high school, and my boyfriend was a freshman in college. He surprised me by coming into town for my birthday. We had a huge party at someone’s dad’s house, and later that night we had sex twice – once with a condom and once without. Somehow, I knew immediately that I was pregnant. I took a couple of pregnancy tests a few weeks later and convinced myself that the light pink line was too light to be true. I went to the gynecologist for the first time a few weeks later and she confirmed what I already knew.
She said, “It looks like the due date is June – ” I cut her off mid-sentence and said, “There will be no due date, I’m not having this baby.”
She handed me some pamphlets to look through as abortions were not performed in my hometown, so I had to pick between two larger cities a couple hours away. That afternoon, I met my closest girlfriends in our usual hangout spot and told them what I had decided. They agreed it was best not to tell my parents and that we would handle this together. Between rehearsals, taking the SATs, and already planned family trips, I scheduled the abortion in Atlanta, GA for the last possible day available on a weekend – before 13 weeks as was legal in that state. I said I did not want insurance to cover it. They told me it would cost $500, and that since I was under 18, and unaccompanied by a parent, I had to provide a letter saying it was ok.
Two of my friends and I decided to spend the weekend together so that we could drive down unnoticed and spend the night somewhere else than my house in case I needed to recover. But then, I got in trouble for getting caught sneaking out of a friend’s house and got grounded the weekend I was scheduled to go to Atlanta and wasn’t allowed to stay over at my friend’s house. So we lied and said we were going hiking on Saturday so I could still make it to my appointment later. I woke up that morning and it was pouring down rain. So much for a hike.
We drove to Atlanta and I had the abortion that afternoon. My boyfriend paid for it. They never asked for the letter from my parents saying it was ok to do this. The staff at the clinic treated me like a normal girl. No judgment and no questions asked other than my health. I was nervous, so the small talk was intolerable, as was the pain after the procedure was over. The only thing that scared me was seeing a sticker on a car in the parking lot from a high school in my hometown. We were convinced someone else was there and they would tell on me. A few weeks later, that exact thing happened to another girl at my school. She told to many people about her abortion and they gossiped about her. At the time, I was so grateful that I had only told the two girlfriends who drove me down and my boyfriend.
Years later, it came out anyway and some of my friends were angry. Not about the abortion, but about being “left out” of the secret. My secret. They were mad at me for being left out. Some of those friendships never recovered, but I did. I don’t regret my decision to have an abortion at 17. Had I not, I would have a child turning 18 this year. I would not be living the life I have. I would be in my hometown raising a child I didn’t want. I would be making other mistakes I can’t take back. But not this.
I eventually told my mom about my abortion. What she said to me was so profound, it changed our relationship forever. She said, “I wish you felt like you could have told us then. We would have supported whatever decision you wanted to make”. I don’t keep secrets from her anymore. She knows I don’t want to have children, and does not try to change my mind or judge me for knowing what I want out of my life. I only hope others can have the support they need from friends and family so that they can avoid the shame that comes along with having an unwanted pregnancy and no option for an abortion. And of course, having the support of making your own choices about your body.