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We Are All We Have to Lean On

by Dartricia Rollins

November 10, 2017

Content Warning: abusive partner

I am an activist and a champion of women's rights because of my abortion story!

I had my first abortion at the age of sixteen, my sophomore year in high school. It was the best decision ever made, but at the time I didn’t really see it that way. My then boyfriend and father of the unborn fetus was abusive, but I did not really notice at the time. When I told him about the pregnancy and that I probably would not keep it, he immediately told his Christian aunt (his guardian) before I even had the chance to tell my mother. So, by the time I got my bearings and went home to figure out my next move, his aunt was already on the phone with my mom, telling her what “she thought was best.”

My mom was furious of course. Who wants to find out that their teenage daughter is pregnant by a person that she barely even knows? Again, before I had even processed this very shocking news, I was already being talked AT by my mother, his aunt, friends and neighbors; who were all telling me what they thought would be best for me and this barely gestated fetus

My mother gave me my options, but not by just talking them out with me, but shocking me. She drove me to the nearest grocery store so that I could assess the prices of baby things such as: synthetic milk, diapers wipes, bottles and baby food. She then drove me to the nearest fast food restaurant, because of course that is the only job a teenage-mom could get to find out the application process, pay and the number of hours I would be able to work while still going to school. Needless to say, I was terrified! She also gave me a list of all of the things she would help me with, like pay for childcare, help me buy a car and purchase the big items I would need such as: a bed, stroller and car seat. She assured me that she would be there every step of the way, through high school and college if that was really what I wanted to do.

I made my decision.

Like most teenagers, I made a second big mistake, by telling my then boyfriend that I was headed to the clinic to have an abortion. I explained to him that these were not the circumstances in which I wanted to have a child. I had a 7-year plan and this was not a part of my plan. This was a mistake because he of course proceeded to tell his Christian aunt and friends, whom were also my friends as well as neighbors. My mother and I both received harassing phone calls and text messages the entire time we were at the clinic.

I was so thankful for the counseling service that the clinic provided to clients, because the woman in the room made me feel hopeful and unashamed. She assured me that I did not have to go through with it if I wanted to, but it was not a decision that I should let a teenage boy and his family decide for me. She gave me the most encouraging words I had received throughout this whole ordeal, in which I am more than grateful, which is why I now volunteer at that very clinic.

The process was quick and easy I woke up feeling as if the world had been lifted off my shoulders. The health advocate hugged me and made me feel at ease at what I had just done. Though I cried, tears of both relief and terrified of having to face all of those damning phone calls and text messages from “well-meaning” friends. It was and still is the best decision I could have ever made.

I felt guilty for a few days, because they all told me that I should. I cried too many tears that were not actually mine. I attended church services, that felt even more alienating and I am no longer friends, that thought they knew what was best for me. But my abortion story is one of triumph. I am a better person because of that decision I made a decade ago. I learned more about myself after that cold February day than I could have ever imagined. I am shouting my abortion for all of those that are made to feel ashamed of making life altering decisions for themselves, when in the end we are all we have to lean on.

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