This is my story of choice: the choice of pregnancy, of children, and of abortion. For too many women, the stigma associated with abortion causes them to not speak out, to hide what they’ve done, to not tell a soul. I’m ending that stigma for myself – after all, if one in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they are in their 40s, it’s not such a stigma after all1.
People have this impression of abortion clinics – that it must be some sort of abortion factory, where you walk in, state “Hey! I’m pregnant but I want an abortion!” and the person behind the counter says ‘Sure! Great choice! Follow me.” You go in a room, get in a gown, have a vacuum attached to your vagina, have a screaming baby sucked out of you piece by piece, wipe up, get dressed, get a lollipop and walk on out, with a coupon for 50% off if you refer a friend.
Every single woman, when staring at that positive pregnancy stick, is immediately faced with a choice. To keep, or not to keep? For those who have been trying to get pregnant, who are happily married and will welcome this much-desired child with open arms, the news is joyous. For those in a long-term monogamous relationship, the news can be good news, but a bit unsettling.
For hundreds of thousands of other women, the news is shattering. I won’t even touch on victims of rape, of sexual abuse, of incest … that should speak for itself, and if you are heartless enough to think that a woman who finds herself pregnant by such a repugnant act should be forced to bear that child … I don’t have the words to describe how evil that is, that you think your ideas about her body trumps the hell that she has gone through and her choice to deal with it the best way that she knows how, no matter what that way might be.
That positive stick, that little wand of magic, has just cast a spell on the rest of your life. You begin thinking of the abusive relationship that you are trying to get out of. You think of the promotion that you are aiming for, where the males in charge most likely won’t look highly upon a woman who is about to be “in the family way.” You think of the crazy night where you had too much to drink, let your inhibitions go, and slept with a cute guy who said all the right things and make you feel beautiful, and smart, and funny. Who whispered in your ear and bought you another shot, and smiled at only you. Who suggested going somewhere else to get to know each other better … and who you had sex with, maybe with doubts in your mind, maybe he was more forceful than he should have been, maybe you were a completely willing participant and maybe you weren’t. Maybe you were on a form of birth control – 89% of women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy use contraceptives2. Your intention was not to become pregnant … but now that little positive stick that holds such massive upheaval for your life is staring you in the face.
I was 24 years old and madly in love with a tall, dark, handsome older man who professed to love me as well. I told my parents that I was going to marry this man, and had visions of “together forever” with him. However, 6 months into the relationship, I began catching him in lies, in acts of deceit; things weren’t adding up anymore. Anyone who has had a relationship with a narcissist will recognize what I am talking about. Simultaneously, I found out that he had been cheating on me for our entire relationship, and that I was pregnant.
I had just finished college and began a career with a company where I could have gone to the top. I was with a man who I now knew to be a pathological liar and a cheat … and I was facing an unwanted pregnancy. I had been on the pill for years (I used them not only for birth control, but also to treat menstrual migraines), but in this instance, through no fault of my own, the birth control failed.
We made an appointment at Planned Parenthood. I can recall trying to find basic information on abortion and becoming so frustrated, because all I could find was propaganda from pro-life sites (many initially disguising themselves as factual sites), when all I wanted was clear-cut information about what my choices were. At the appointment, I had an ultrasound to determine how far along I was. I will never forget the tech’s words, as I lay staring at the ceiling, facing my own watershed moment … “Well … it’s twins.”
I instantly burst into tears. I was asked if I wanted to look at the screen – no, I did not. I spoke with the doctor, who assured me that, even though I had heavily drank alcohol and continued to take my birth control pills while not knowing that I was pregnant, that the babies would probably be just fine.
I made an appointment before leaving for the abortion, but called the next day and canceled. I had made my choice. Facing potential single-motherhood, facing the daunting thought of twins, facing the potential disruption of my career, I had made my choice.
2 years later. Twin 13-month old boys, and the father who was showing his true colors of being an alcoholic, abusive and demeaning. Someone who would gamble and drink our money away until there was none left – none except for the dollars that I would hide from him, so that I could buy the necessities, like milk or diapers, when they were needed. The night I found out I was pregnant again was the night that he came home after getting a DUI. He cursed and swore at me when I told him, his voice slurring, my babies down the hall from us. Once again, I was on the pill … once again, it failed. Epically failed – we had had sex once in 4 months. And I got pregnant.
I immediately knew that I would keep this pregnancy. I can’t explain it; I just knew that I was meant to have this child, and abortion was not an option to me. My mother cried when I told her I was pregnant, and asked why I didn’t consider abortion, since I had considered it earlier. All I could say was, it was my choice, and I chose to keep it.
2 years later. Finally get up the nerve to leave the father of my children. Thus ensues a living hell, complete with restraining orders against him and heavy court involvement over custody of our children. Suicide attempts by him, in an effort to keep me nearby and personally involved with me. Many other events not mentionable here.
I met someone else. Someone who presents himself as a hero. Someone who tells me all the magic words: “I’ve never met anyone like you. You’re the woman I’ve been waiting for. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You’re amazing, beautiful, wonderful – my life is complete, now that I have you. Your kids – I will love them like my own.”
We were doomed. My ex caused such a strain on our relationship (and such a strain on me emotionally), that our relationship could not withstand it. I found out that he was seeking sexual relationships elsewhere, and my heart broke. I could no longer put up with behavior like that in my life, and I knew that the relationship would have to end. I was 30 years old.
A week after finding out about his infidelities, I went to a new doctor to get an IUD. I wanted no risk of pregnancy at all, from anyone. During my checkup, the doctor asked if cancer ran in my family, and if I had lost a lot weight recently, and then dropped the bombshell that she had found a tumor somewhere in or around my uterus. We would need to determine where the tumor was located and its size, and what type it was, before focusing on an IUD. Ultrasounds were scheduled, both external and transvaginal. Weeks after the ultrasounds, I got the news from the doctor’s office that I was HPV positive and that my PAP smear had come back abnormal. Tumor …. HPV …. abnormal PAP …. I was thinking cervical cancer. I asked the nurse on the phone about the tumor, as I had heard nothing since having the ultrasound. She said that the doctor was out of the office for over a week, but that she was ordering a colposcopy to determine the cause of the abnormal PAP and would most likely biopsy the tumor at that time.
Colposcopy time. I check in and sit nervously, a million thoughts running in my head. A nurse pulls me aside and utters the words that would change my life … “Due to the invasive nature of a colposcopy, we won’t do it until after delivery.”
“Oh, you’re pregnant. Didn’t you know?”
No. No, I did not.
Turns out the tumor that the “good” doctor felt was actually the pregnancy. She never ordered a pregnancy test, no one told me I was pregnant during or after the ultrasounds … a month went by, valuable time wasted, while I thought I had cancer, thanks to the thoughts this doctor put in my head.
The doctor asked what I wanted to do. I told her I did not want to continue the pregnancy; I was leaving the man, my life was in an upheaval, and I had wanted an IUD to prevent pregnancy in the first place. I had had severe postpartum depression after each delivery and wasn’t sure I could go through that again. (Giving birth and the rush of hormones afterwards brought back issues of sexual abuse when I was younger that I had repressed; I saw a therapist and psychiatrist after the first pregnancy and thought I had dealt with it all, but the second birth brought it all back again, and worse.)
I scheduled an appointment at a local clinic. My mother went with me, and it was at that appointment, during the ultrasound, that I found out how far along I was (much farther than the doctor had told me I was.). I spoke with both a doctor and a counselor, and waited the mandatory time before being allowed to have the abortion.
The day of the abortion is a day that will be seared in my memory for the rest of my life; but I find, as time goes on, it fades. I remember wondering what the story was of all the other women in the clinic. Young, older, all different races, sizes, features. Some quiet, some staring into space. Some alone, some with someone there for support, like I had. I was not alone; I had my best friend for support, who gave me a few anti-anxiety pills to help me get through it. I remember the feelings, the sensations as the abortion took place. My biggest fear was feeling it happen, and I didn’t want to feel anything at all; however, I felt exactly what was happening. I remember the recovery room, again looking at the other women recovering alongside me, and wondering, again, what their story was. Everyone has a story. But who wants to hear it?
Anti-choice people would condemn me for having what they would consider an “abortion of convenience.” Well …. yeah. Yes, my abortion was convenient. By choosing not to be saddled down with an unwanted child, to choose not to become a broodmare to create a child for some other couple, to choose to not disrupt my life, my emotional stability, the future I was eking out for myself and my children … yes, the abortion was convenient. I’m grateful for that. I’m thankful I was able to have a safe, legal abortion here in America.
I am 100% certain that I made the right choice for me. Given the shambles that my life was in at that moment, a pregnancy might literally have cost me my mind. I would have been no good as a mother to the children I already had. I would have been in even more dire of financial straits. The schooling that I had started, to provide a better life for myself and my children, would have had to been put on hold. My mental health would have been shot. My ex may well have gone crazy with the thought of me pregnant with another man’s child, and done something drastic.
But the wonderful thing about the freedom of choice is that we don’t need to justify an abortion with a qualifying reason. As women, if we find ourselves with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, we have the CHOICE to do what we see fit with our own body, our own lives.
I cried. I pondered, and wept at the unjustness of it all. I wondered if it was a boy or a girl. Certain songs made me break down in the aftermath. This was around the Christmas season, and the song “Mary Did You Know” sometimes just felt like it shattered me. But slowly, I got better. I healed. I deeply understood that I made the right choice for myself. I’m finishing school to be a RN; I’m a great mom to my boys, who are the lights of my life. Things are exactly as they should be.
Don’t condemn those of whose shoes you have never deigned to walk in. Don’t judge those who have made choices that, God willing, you might never have to make yourself.
Choice. It’s a complicated, beautiful thing. I made a choice, I stand by it, and I support all men and women who stand by the right to choose.
For more information on abortion statistics:
I had been seeing a guy for only a few weeks & found out my birth control failed (yes, I know I should have used condoms, too). When I went to his place to let him know (I was freaking out), I found out he had been seeing someone else for *months*, and he made it clear he wanted no part in its life should I choose to have it.
Regardless, I really was not ready for a child at the time, so, I spent a week or two thinking on it & decided that the best choice for me was an abortion. Unfortunately, I had to wait two more weeks for the embryo to develop so the doctor could be sure he removed it. It was a very unpleasant two weeks, as I was very fatigued all the time & just making it to work was a tremendous effort. This just cemented my decision, knowing I could not work full time while pregnant because of how it made me feel, much less care for a newborn alone, with nothing other than court-ordered child support (which I do not believe in in the case of accidental pregnancy when a mother chooses to keep a baby that the man does not want).
I have had no regrets about terminating that pregnancy & am NOT ASHAMED of it.
I am *PROUD* that I was smart enough & strong enough to make the best decision for myself!!!
I was six when I was hospitalized for ten days with a very rare blood disease similar to a temporary form of hemophilia. I almost died.
I’ve had stitches for deep cuts and wounds four times.
I’ve had serious mouth surgery six times – four wisdom teeth extracted, two broken teeth extracted, two dental implants.
I’ve had orthoscopic surgery on my knee to repair a torn meniscus.
My index and middle fingers were crushed in a grinding machine and I had major surgery to repair the bones, skin and nail beds. I almost lost those two fingers.
I have had also two abortions. I was 19 when I had my first and 35 when I had my second.
Both were easy choices to make. Both were easy to obtain, were legal and very low-cost. Of all the surgeries I’ve had, my abortions rate alongside the stitches for cuts and wounds, in terms of inconveniencing my life and lifestyle, the pain from the surgery, and recovery.
I’ve had a lifetime of great sex with some amazing lovers, memories I would not trade for the world. I’ve been free to live the life I want, exactly as I please. This would not have been possible if I had not had access to birth control, and the ability to freely choose to have an abortion.
I am proud to be shameless.
I had just completed a grueling summer semester where I was going between school, work, and an internship for 10 straight weeks. I barely noticed my first skipped period. When I missed a second one I bought a pregnancy test at the grocery store by my school and took the test in the stall of a women’s room on campus. The test was negative so I told myself my period would come and things were just crazy with my schedule/diet/exercise routine.
After things calmed down I made an appointment at the STD clinic by my house since they did free pelvic exams and give out three months of free birth control to patients. The nurses seemed thrilled to tell me the good news. They didn’t expect me to cry. After all, I was 27 and married, of course I wanted kids, right?
I was scared of my husband’s reaction. I was in the middle of getting my degree. I dislike kids. And yes, I know when they’re yours, you love them, but I have no desire to have that responsibility. I want to fulfill my life in so many other ways: career, music, writing, etc.
When I came home and told my husband he was supportive and we agreed to terminate the pregnancy. I am grateful for the way he handled the news and for the support he gave me at that time. I’m also very happy that I did not have a baby with him! We have since divorced and complicating a child’s life with the split that we had would not have been good!
By the time I found out I was pregnant I was 14 weeks along. Making the decision to have an abortion was among one of the easiest decisions I’ve made. A few paragraphs can only gloss over my life and situation at the time and why it was the right thing for me to do. I have no regrets for the decision I made.
My story is not every woman’s story, but it is mine. My choice may not have been the choice other women would have made, but it is my choice. I didn’t consult a politician, I consulted a doctor who did his best to make me safe and comfortable. I’m not ashamed for the choice that I made. I’m only grateful that I still had the right to make that choice.
I always supported choice. I never thought I would become pregnant at 18. The father said he discovered he was infertile while in the service overseas. Not long thereafter I became pregnant — I was terrified, panicked, depressed, and resentful. He was ecstatic. I cried. He made sure my roommates didn’t let me touch the litter box.
I considered abortion. He told me he hit a previous girlfriend who got an abortion. Wait – what? Yes. Lies upon lies. What was truth? I considered adoption – I was young – I didn’t want a baby. We were both very poor – what kind of life would this child have? I had neighbors and family members interested in adopting. He threatened with lawyers. He showed up on their doorstep to “convince them otherwise.”
I didn’t want this. I decided it was my life. And if there really is a soul in there, it’s going straight to heaven as an innocent and I took my life back. I chose not to give birth to misery. I aborted.
The father stalked me for awhile – at home and at work. Yelled at me about it in the parking lot of my work! Did whatever he could to shame me. I would not be shamed. Told his friends who would try to shame me and spread rumors. I would not walk with my head down.
I ran into them again years later and they renewed their attacks on me and attempted to shame me. I am not ashamed. It was the most clear decision I had ever made in my life. I have never once regretted it. And after 9 more years of careful thinking, I got a tubal ligation. And I do not regret it. I am in control of my life and my body. If someday I am in a position to raise a child with proper financial and familial support, without threats of violence and lawyers, I will adopt. That is my story.
We were 18 and had started dating just after we graduated from high school. I found out I was pregnant during my first semester of college in Boston, but he was still living in New York.
We had way too many goals and aspirations to let this ruin our lives. He drove up to be with me during the procedure.
I was made to feel like I should be ashamed of what I did. Ashamed of making this decision, and I cried. But it was a good decision. I don’t feel ashamed anymore.
I was 16 and IN LOVE. We spent one night together and the next day he got on a plane and left for good. Later, I caught mono and had lab work which also showed I was pregnant. The doctor called my dad. My dad told me I was pregnant. I said I wanted to end it and he said he’d take me and he did. It was the right thing to do for me at that time. Dad NEVER mentioned it after that day…….ever. It was over. No regrets!
|MsPaula48 on A Good Choice|