My Choice

by Anonymous

September 16, 2022

In 2008 I had an abortion. While what eventually led to this isn’t particularly relevant; I will give context. This involved a false negative blood test from ordered from a physician, after which I felt reassured and continued to live my life as usual. Until- there were food aversions; I remember the frozen waffles I’d toast and eat daily with peanut butter were revolting to me suddenly. Nausea crept in and became unrelenting. My period? Late, I suppose, but I had a history of irregular menstrual cycles, so I chalked it up to that. My breasts began to ache. I spotted blood one day, but my mind justified this as my period must be coming. Besides, I had a negative blood test. Those are so accurate, I thought! Phew. In retrospect the denial was there but insidious. Life carried on.

Eventually I became so nauseous that I called out of work at my extremely low-paying, uninspiring job that did nothing to utilize my undergraduate degree and increasingly made me question my role in this world. My partner -now spouse, with whom I lived in a crappy apartment- had taken our shared car (really theirs, let’s be honest) to their workplace. Instead of walking to the T station for work, I figured I’d walk to CVS to get a pregnancy test or two. Just to rule this out. This stomach bug is so stupid, I thought. Usually they don’t hang around for days. I bundled up, and shivering, ventured out. I remember being stung by the high cost of the pregnancy tests; the pack of three pretty much matched my hourly salary. Oh well, it’s worth it for peace of mind.

I read the instructions, peed, and immediately saw two lines darken as the fluid saturated the wick. Heart pounding, I opened the second test and repeated the process with the same results. Two dark lines representing what could potentially change my life’s trajectory as I stood alone in our bathroom, feeling scared, alone, and hopeless.

I called my partner and awkwardly said, “I’m pregnant”. They raced home to be with me. I reached out to my doctor’s office, who ordered another blood test, which showed my HCG levels climbing. Now here was positive blood test. I had previously received a false negative due to my irregular cycle, and it was too soon to catch that I was pregnant the first time.

Prior to this, I often would say that I was pro-choice but it was not a choice I could make. I have a strong maternal instinct and love children. Now when confronted with the potential to bear a child that was unplanned, and knowing I had no real career or stability, I knew what choice I had to make.

Throughout this, my partner was unwavering in their support of my decisions, showing accountability and respect of my bodily autonomy.  We discussed having the child, and they volunteered they would break our lease and could purchase a house. We could marry; something we discussed before in abstract terms but without any urgency or absolute certainty.

Incidentally, I also possess a strong desire to be self-sufficient; I never wanted to be beholden to anyone financially. We discussed having the child and choosing adoption. We acknowledged the inherent unfairness of this too; our child would likely have no issue being adopted (i.e. the privilege of being white and born from college-educated parents in America), while other children shuffle indefinitely through the system in a cycle of instability and increasing despair.

When I mentioned the adoption possibility to my doctor, they remarked that this could be a nice thing to do. After sleeping on it and deciding that this choice wasn’t for me, guilt crept in. I must be selfish.

About a week passed during which my choice became abundantly clear; I had to have an abortion. Having grown up in a working poor and dysfunctional household I knew that I alone wanted to provide for any children I may have. I also wanted any potential daughter of mine to see a strong, self-sufficient woman who could balance a career and family. Her identity wouldn’t be defined solely as a mother, and she would not be resigned to stay at home. I hoped she would aspire to do the same for herself.

The clinic was nothing but supportive, patient, and nonjudgmental. When I called I couldn’t say the word, abortion; “uh, I’d like to make an appointment”. Of course, staff knew the purpose of the appointment and asked the appropriate questions. They could get me in within a couple of days, and told me that my insurance should cover everything.

I then awkwardly approached my male boss, emotionally explaining why I needed time off (unnecessary, but what did I know at that time)? He, too, reassured me and shared that he had a partner who once had an abortion. It was fine and normal. Another coworker (female) to whom I confided hugged me and told me about her previous abortion. No big deal.

Day of the procedure (a surgical abortion due to dating of the pregnancy) we parked and went in. Not lost on me was that the facility was in Brookline, an affluent suburb which saw the horrific murder of two staff members at separate abortion clinics in 1994).

We parked. I remember people who stood protesting, they knew how to toe the line in such a way that just satisfied the legally required distance to stay away from the office. At the time 35 feet seemed so close; I realize now I was fortunate.

“They need a life. And a job” I muttered. “Your baby has a father!” they yelled. When I didn’t engage, more pleas and platitudes anti-choicers like to spew were shouted at me, but I was too upset to hear.

Entering through many extreme security measures I then waited with my partner in a fairly busy room. Eventually I was summoned to meet with a counselor, alone, to ensure I was certain of my decision to terminate my pregnancy and, ostensibly, that I was not being coerced in my decision.

After discussing and affirming that this was my choice, and only my choice, I returned to the waiting room and sat with my partner. When the office staff called me up for the payment, I remember my partner quickly jumping up with me to the reception window. The cost was $50, the standard outpatient surgical copay at the time with the remaining cost entirely being covered by my insurance. I assured my partner it was fine, I could pay, but thanked them.

The actual procedure couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I was visibly nervous and relieved to be offered a sedative. With my legs in stirrups and the ultrasound machine placed outside of my field of vision, cold gel was quickly applied, the wand drawn across my lower abdomen, and the gel was promptly wiped off . The doctor introduced herself and shook my hand. I thanked her profusely before agreeing I was ready to go. I was administered sedation, and roughly 20 minutes later, awoke in a communal recovery room.

Groggy, I scanned the room and saw people from all walks of life with the same look of relief on their faces I am sure I had. There was a high school student from a wealthy town I had previously seen in the waiting room with her parent. There was a woman who shared with me that this was her second abortion; she was done having children and this pregnancy was unplanned. There were many others I can no longer recall but in that room, the collective vibe was that of relief, happiness, and moving forward. Gone was the apprehension and palpable tension we all experienced while silently waiting around before having our abortion.

A pad had been placed in my underwear and I was bleeding. I then was instructed to monitor for signs of infection and discharged with antibiotics and a prescription for oral contraceptives to take in the future. I was given the requisite directions to call if there were any concerns or signs of infection and my partner and I were free to go.

I do not recall being harassed leaving the facility. Presumably the protesters can at least tell time (perhaps I’m giving too much credit given their apparent lack of anatomical knowledge). I guess they know that enough time had elapsed that their aforementioned pleas fell on deaf (and self-assured) ears and the abortion was complete.

My partner asked what I wanted to do next. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.” The nausea I had experienced for weeks was gone. We went to Friendly’s and I remember laughing so much through the haze of recovery. I told them what I remember from my experience, the kindness exhibited by the staff throughout, and how much better I felt in general. I told them how excited I was for our upcoming trip abroad; something we had planned and saved  months for.

I napped that afternoon, returned to work after a couple of days, and carried on with my life. Over the years I would remark to my partner what would have been thwarted had I born a child when I was not ready to do so. My Master’s degree completion, building a rewarding career that could support a family, travel, celebrations, and just being in a mindset and place to successfully raise a child.

In my line of work I’ve had to call in a 51a, more than once and with varied responses in the reports being “screened in” despite my best attempts. I have and continue to treat children with no family stability who develop destructive and self-injurious behaviors in a feeble attempt to cope with their internalized feelings or self-soothe. My heart continues to break for them.

Children should be wanted and cared for. It is hard work emotionally. It is costly and mentally challenging. It is also extremely rewarding. To hear my child say, “Mommy has to help people with their feelings!” delights me as much as hearing “aw Mommy, you STILL have more clients?” saddens me when I can’t join them for dinner or play at that particular moment. I take solace knowing that they feel secure and know I am there for them. Their needs are fulfilled and they see someone who cares for them, our entire family, and the community at large.

The current state of reproductive rights in the United States horrifies me. As too many before me have stated, I know I’m in a state that supports abortion, and I possess the resources to obtain an abortion in the event something changes. But many others are in no such position. They are offered no exceptions to an extremely safe medical procedure and are forced to carry their pregnancy to term, all but ensuring a family dynamic colored by resentment, poor boundaries, financial instability, food insecurity, and too many other issues I have witnessed firsthand personally and professionally.

The misinformation that abounds is appalling. We know that many organizations purposely mislead people seeking abortions with their crisis pregnancy centers. The teeny tiny babies graphically depicted bloodied on billboards and in anti-choice literature -while hilarious to me in their utter inaccuracy- can easily sway someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge of biology or has strong religious beliefs. While I showed up and got my procedure the same day, we know many states force pregnant people to endure a mandatory waiting period, view their ultrasounds, and return at a later date, furthering their shame and stigma with the ultimate goal of deterring them from following through due to excessive cost, disruption to work, and other barriers.

As someone who was brought up with no religion and thus lacks experience with the teachings and beliefs many religions have regarding abortion, I often remark about what I perceive as hypocrisy in the teachings. Why would what I did be as bad as someone who committed murder? It made no sense to me. My partner gets as angry as I do; we choose to raise our children in a community without dogmas and shame, instead opting for one that values them having control of their bodies, encouraging consent and empowering them with accurate and scientifically sound knowledge guiding them. Even in our state, I will roll my eyes or just say “ew” to my partner when I see a “choose life” license plate.

Over the past fourteen years, I have shared my story with a few people. I have bitten my tongue more times than I care to remember when others make a similar comment to what I had, decades ago and naive to the possibility I would one day have to make that choice personally. While they espouse pro-choice views initially they would eventually qualify them; in regards to those seeking a safe and legal abortion: why did they wait so long? Couldn’t they have been more careful?  So many people would love to be able to have a baby! And again, reasserting they would never be able to make “that” choice. Their ambivalence continued to confuse and astound me.

Post Roe, this year someone unaware of my history sparked a conversation with me regarding the ruling in general and those who support abortion with incredulity. “How can someone support that? You look at your children, right? How can someone do that?” I sat in silence.

I’ve learned that sharing my story can forever alter an individual’s perception of me. I know once I hear an opinion contrary to mine and I were to call them on it, what follows might be an awkward attempt of the person to backpedal on what they said, justify their views, or attempt to reconcile the me they know versus their perception of what a person who chooses abortion looks like. This is just too upsetting for me. I think I can’t change your mind, but maybe I can try.

The best we can do is to educate ourselves, share stories, and use our votes to enact change. Abortions won’t cease regardless of what the courts say. They will just become more dangerous and more people will be harmed or killed. More children will grow up in a hostile, unloving households, plagued with insecurity and further perpetuating a cycle of maladaptive behaviors, poverty, and general misery.

The right to choose whether and when to have children should be afforded to all. I am grateful that I grew up with easy and affordable access to contraception, abortion, and could plan my family on my (and my partner’s) terms.

You know me, and you likely know someone who has had or will need an abortion. Please think before you speak, do your research, and support us.  *no longer at the location I frequented, thankfully


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