My abortion was not difficult.
Dramas on TV and movies always portrays it as an invariably heart-wrenching, emotional decision, wracked with moral ambiguity and tears. It's a moral victory when she decides not to go through it. Whenever an abortion saves a woman's life - either on the hospital bed, or in more complicated ways out in larger society - those stories aren't told.
True, for many women, it may be an extremely difficult decision for any number of reasons. I wouldn't presume to judge their highly personal circumstances and histories.
Before I was given the doctor's diagnosis of pregnancy, my stance on the whole thing had been kind of wishy-washy. I'd moved away from the firmly anti-abortion position of my teenage years - it happened along with my evolution away from social conservatism in general - but I'd still been vaguely uneasy. I took refuge in apathy.
Well, then the two pregnancy strips I bought from Wal-mart handed down their prognostications, and later it was confirmed in the doctor's office. No more time for wishy-washy stances. I couldn't afford to write the whole thing off as something that happened to "other women." I was one of the "other women" now, and I didn't have the luxury of time and distance to make a decision.
It was pretty simple, honestly. I was a college student with an education and career ahead of me that depended on children arriving only after I achieved some financial stability - that's if I had children at all. I would certainly have to drop out of school, set my life back by decades, probably drop below the poverty line for years. That's assuming I had the child successfully and could afford health care if life-threatening complications arose, something I wasn't counting on given my mother's difficult pregnancies. I couldn't count on my parents, my friends were all poor college students like me - and when it came down to it...I knew I'd be a horrible mother. No child deserves a mother who hates and resents it.
I had tried to do everything right. Birth control, always condoms, no messing around with semen. Etcetera. But now I was down to the last line.
I had an ultrasound done, as required by Missouri law. The Planned Parenthood clinic I went to, a week after diagnosis, had me sit down with a counselor and doctor to go over my reasons for choosing the termination procedure and lay out my options, including carrying the fetus to term. I didn't hesitate for long. Looked at in the cold light, satisfying a vague philosophical urge would come at the cost of probably ruining my life and certainly ruining the future kid's life. It was my right to have control over what would happen to my own body. Besides which...I looked at the ultrasound, and what I saw was a tiny oblong larva. It didn't physically resemble anything human.
They gave me a round of pills in the clinic and sent me home with another round and instructions on what to do. I was lucky. My then-boyfriend was supportive, and my upstairs neighbors offered to let me use their clean and spacious bathroom when the vomiting and voiding began. I was never alone and I wasn't scared, because of them. The physical pain was awful, but bearable, and it passed after a few hours. And then I cleaned myself up and spent a couple days recovering.
Since then I've become a statistic. I'm one of the women who had an abortion. My life went on as usual. Only a few people know it happened. In the interest of not getting crap thrown in my face, I keep it to myself. A man called me a murderer, but he didn't know it - he was thinking about the "other women." He didn't know how many "other women" lived and worked closely around him who were silent because he called them "murderers." It affects me when I watch TV or read stories that would imply that I'm a callous monster simply for making the rational decision, for choosing not to bring an innocent into a terrible life with a terrible mother, or just for choosing to have sex.
So I want people - I want women to know. I'm not a monster. I'm not defective. I am not abnormal. It's okay that I don't feel devastated. It's okay that I looked at the facts and made a decision based on that. I know myself and my own life best. You do too.
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