by Marie

November 5, 2020

I found out I was pregnant on the first day of my doctoral program. I had just returned to New Hampshire from a short getaway to Washington D.C with my family and then boyfriend to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It was our first (and last) trip as a couple, and as we wandered the Smithsonian I found myself complaining over and over again about how sore my breasts were. On the flight home and throughout the days since, I’d been sick to my stomach multiple times. Despite the fact that I had been responsibly taking birth control on a daily basis, a small seed of doubt had taken root in the pit of my stomach that I could not ignore: What if I’m pregnant?

With the intention of dismissing this concern, I picked up a generic two pack pregnancy test on my drive home from campus. As I waited for the results to appear I willed myself to breathe and stay calm. “There’s just no way”

But there was.  As I watched the second line on the stick come into focus, my breath caught, my eyes closed, and my shoulders slumped in defeat. “Oh, fuck.” I whispered.

I was not (and still am not) in a financial or emotional position to create a stable environment for a child. Growing up in a volatile household left me feeling ill-equipped for motherhood. This doubt was exacerbated by a bout with Lyme disease in my mid-twenties that left me temporarily at the mercy of what was, at times, debilitating anger and depression; difficulties I had watched my parent’s struggle with throughout my own childhood. If I ever decide to have children, it will not be without a strong support system in place.

The morning of my appointment it was an exceptionally cold and dreary day for September. The anxiety in my stomach stopped me from eating any breakfast. A dear friend drove me to the clinic, mostly in silence, hugged me before I climbed out of the car, and gave me a half smile before I loped to the clinic door through the downpour that had intensified throughout the fifteen minute commute.

I will never forget, or lose my gratitude for, the women at the clinic who got me through that day. The volunteer nurse who held my hand while I tried (and failed) not to cry through the painful procedure. The woman who spoke so kindly to me in the recovery room, telling me tales of the three children waiting for her at home that she would still be able to support properly because of her abortion that day. And the stranger who brought me a mug of tea as I sat in the lobby, waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up.

It was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right one. The months following my procedure were difficult.  Just because I knew I had made the right decision did not erase the grief I felt over the need to make it. The intense scrutiny our society has placed on women who choose abortion left me feeling embarrassed and alone. In this time I would discover just how unsupportive of a partner my boyfriend was, and still it took me months to open up to my closest friends and family about what I had been through.

I have not fooled myself into thinking my story is a unique one; women around the world go through similar experiences everyday.  In fact, 623,471 legal abortions were reported to the CDC in 2016. I did not face dire circumstances or face health concerns, as so many women do. My insurance and state allowed me access to a safe and affordable procedure, a privilege many women do not have. But I am scared for the future. With the swearing in of Justice Amy Coney Barrett we are facing a serious reversal or curtailing of the right to abortion; through legislation that will disproportionately affect members of marginalized communities, people of color and those living below the poverty line.

This issue touches all of us, even if we don’t know it.

If you think repealing a woman’s right to choose won’t affect someone in your life, you are wrong. If you think your voice and support doesn’t matter, you are wrong.  And if you think your vote doesn’t count, you are wrong.

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