WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST IS ABOUT ABORTION. IF YOU ARE STRONGLY ANTI-ABORTION, PLEASE MOVE ON AND DO NOT READ THIS POST.
I have idly sat by and heard so much political bullshit on the topic of women’s rights. It’s absolutely mind boggling to me why, we as a society, would want to return to the dark ages where women were worth nothing and our bodies were something to be governed by anyone other than ourselves. The biggest, most disturbing agenda on politicians plates today, in my opinion, is a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy or not. Many states are beginning to take steps in order to take this right away from women and in turn are taking away something so precious… I am beginning to feel like an object, not a person. I don’t have a mind of my own to make these types of decisions because I am just a little woman? I am tired of hearing about these states trying to regulate our reproductive organs and our minds. I am also tired of the war waged upon Planned Parenthood.
Without Planned Parenthood, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Most likely, on welfare and caring for many children. Without their guidance and distribution of contraception through my teen years and later into my twenties, I am pretty sure I would have a slew of children and I would be sucking from the taxpayer nipple. I would not have gone to college to earn a degree and I would not have tried to further my career, I’d be sitting on my ass collecting welfare and food stamps. At least, that’s how I picture it in my head. And I am sure I am not alone. There are millions of women out there that were and are in my boat. When people bring up the topic of abortion, it makes people cringe unless it is a life-saving procedure. No one wants to have to make that kind of decision under any circumstances.
I had to. I had to make a fateful decision. It was heartbreaking and difficult, but felt I had no other choice. I am glad I had a choice. I know there are many women out there that use abortion as a form of birth control, and I do feel this is wrong. This, I assure you, was not me. I always took precautions and used protection during sex. One slip up changed my life, though. This is my story.
. . . .
J and I were living in a tiny studio apartment in San Francisco. I was about to graduate from college and did not have a job. My relationship with J was becoming burdensome and quite abusive. He stayed out late, drinking, partying, and drugging it up. I was left alone much of the time. I had friends over on occasion, but was generally depressed during that time. I wanted to leave him, I had threatened to leave him, but I couldn’t seem to take that step out.
One night, I told J that I thought I was pregnant. He was overjoyed at the prospect. I remember that night like it was yesterday. We both walked in the direction of his second job. He was a bartender at a bar in the Tenderloin, the worst neighborhood in San Francisco. After reaching the bar, I continued on to Walgreen’s to pick up a pregnancy test and took it straight to the seedy bar where J worked. I went into the restroom and took the test. It only took a minute for that positive sign to come up. I went, wearily, to sit at the bar and talk to J to give him the news. He was delighted; I was depressed. This was going to take a huge change for both of us. I needed to stop smoking and he needed to stop the drinking and the drugs. We made a commitment together and decided that we were happy for this newcomer to enter our lives.
A week went by and I grew increasingly anxious at the idea of having a baby. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a job. We had no money and a teeny studio. What were we going to do and where were we going to go? J showed no signs of sobering up and the abuse continued. That Saturday, J decided he didn’t want to come home at all. He stayed out all night and when I woke up and he wasn’t there, I panicked. I didn’t know if he was face down in some gutter somewhere or what. I repeatedly called his cell phone and there was no answer. I went walking through the streets of the Civic Center and Tenderloin districts of San Francisco to see if I could find him passed out somewhere. I was frantic when I didn’t find him. All I could think is that OD’d again and I was going to hear that he was dead or close to it or something.
I went back to the apartment and called his parents. I told them that he didn’t come home and he wasn’t answering his cell phone. They were scared also. The same thoughts going through my mind were also racing through theirs. Ten minutes later, they called me back. J arrived at their place with no care in the world. He didn’t understand why I was so upset. I was upset because I had gotten terribly sick the night before and still was very sick that morning. We had no water left in the house and I refused to drink the tap water, worried that it was laced with some sort of trash and carcinogen. I was vomiting and had diarrhea. My dehydration was off the charts and could barely get out of bed. I found the energy to walk around the neighborhood due to my overwhelming worry for his well-being. I was frantic.
When he finally, nonchalantly, walked through the door, I was exhausted and furious. I was too tired to fight and all I could do was cry. I knew he wasn’t going to change. I knew that this was the life I would be living if I did bring a child into this world. I would hate him for doing this to me and resent the child for putting me in this predicament. When I envisioned the future with this child, I could vividly see me beating it to the brink of death or neglecting it to the point that he/she would become a part of the social services system and I would most likely end up in jail. I took a week to think about it. I talked it over with my mother and a friend and my art professor.
The following week, I walked down the aisle to accept my diploma (actually, just the case) at San Francisco State University. I had friends and family in from all over the country. My best friend came in to town and presented me with a present for the baby. It was difficult to tell her that I made the decision to not keep the baby. I told her about what I was facing and the abuse and neglect I received from J. She was shocked. She told me that she doesn’t believe in abortion. “I wish you wouldn’t, but I understand.” I could see the disappointment on her face. I felt it in my heart. My heart was broken. After the graduation ceremony, I had a level of anger that is only caused by hormones. I hated everything and everyone around me. I made my entire graduation dinner a living hell. It was supposed to be a moment of celebration and all I could think about was what was happening to me and what I was about to do.
The next week, all was settled down and everyone had returned to their respective homes. I made a call to Planned Parenthood to schedule an appointment to discuss my options. I scheduled the appointment in Southern California so I could be surrounded by family and friends that I knew supported my decision. I left and drove the seven hours to my mother’s, alone and in silence. When I arrived, I found out that my sister was disgusted with me. I tried to explain why I had to do what I had to do, but she didn’t want to hear about it. She didn’t care that J was addicted to drugs and abusive to me. She just heard me saying that I didn’t want to be like her, a single parent. In all truth, I didn’t. Not because I didn’t have respect for her, but because I was not as strong as her. I never envisioned myself with children. I never wanted children, she did. Her and I didn’t talk for months. When we did begin speaking again, the topic of abortion was not to be brought up and I have never (to this day) gotten to explain my side of the story to my sister.
I went to my appointment the next day and I received an ultrasound at Planned Parenthood. They needed to make sure I was still within the gestation period of 22 weeks. I was well within the non-viable fetal period. They counseled me to ensure I knew I was making the right decision for me and then they scheduled the abortion for the following day.
The next day, my mother drove me to the clinic that solely provided women with abortion services. The check-in point is completely cordoned off so one could not see into the waiting room or the clinic itself. I had to check-in and my mother, my driver, had to check-in and she had to leave immediately. I entered the waiting room to sit with all of the other women waiting for the same thing. I was deep in thought and tried to distract myself by reading a magazine. It didn’t work. I immediately observed the women around me. We all sat separately even though we were there for the same thing. We were united at that moment. But as I looked around and looked at faces….some were sad, crying even. Others didn’t look phased, as if they had been through this before. Then there were others, like me, trying not to think about what was about to happen. Thoughts were racing. I thought about the woman I used to work with that was unable to have children. I thought about J begging me to keep the baby, that him and his mother could raise it. I thought about how selfish and guilty I felt. I thought about the anger at everything surrounding this decision. I thought about being constantly sick, vomiting at the disgusting smell of the city. I vomited at the smell of our apartment that was situated above a dirty little Chinese restaurant. Every time I stepped into our apartment, I vomited. And that made me angry too. I thought about how I was not strong enough to have a baby. I thought about what a terrible mother I would be if I did have it. I thought about what a terrible father J would be if I had it. All of my thoughts still led me to this decision. That this decision was the right thing to do for me.
Finally, my fictitious name was called. I was led back to a room where they did another ultrasound. I tried to get a glimpse of the baby but the technician had turned the monitor off right at that moment. I was then led back to another waiting room where another girl sat. She tried to start up a conversation, but I didn’t feel like talking. To her, this was “old hat”. I could not take the decision so lightly. She made it very apparent she had been here and had done this before. A nurse came to fetch me. She inserted a needle into my arm for an IV. I decided to be completely sedated for the abortion. I just wanted to wake up and it be all over. I returned to that room and thankfully, the girl was gone and I was alone. Alone again with my thoughts.
How would it be when I returned to San Francisco? Would it be over between J and I? There surely was no way to repair this hurt I just brought upon him. What was my next move? I didn’t have any answers. I could only enter this situation that was created and deal with it as it came.
After about 45 minutes, they came to get me for the procedure. I was escorted to a cold room. I removed my clothing, neatly folded it and put on a hospital gown. The doctor came to administer my anesthesia, I counted backwards and the next thing I remember is waking up in a recovery room. It was a white room with windows. It was lined with hospital blue seats that reminded me of a dentist chair. It was quiet and when I began to wake up, a lovely woman was there to sooth me. So far, she was the only one that provided comfort throughout the ordeal. She handed me my clothes, a sanitary napkin and told me what to expect after leaving the clinic. She was gentle and caring and kind. My mother was called in to pick me up and off we went.
It was over. I had done the unspeakable. I felt terrible and relieved. I stayed for another week with my mother before returning to the tiny studio in San Francisco and to J. When I walked in the door. he was there waiting for me. I didn’t know what to expect. I put up a cold front because I was already hurting, battered and bruised by the decision I made. I felt alone. He felt alone too. We didn’t say much to one another. We just sat on the bed, exchanged “how are you’s”. The sadness in that room was so thick. I cried. J cried. We held each other. There was nothing to say.
Two weeks later, I left J and moved to Southern California. I found a job and a nice apartment and began to heal. Then J showed up.
. . . . .
You see, I need to tell this story. As the lawmakers are talking about governing our bodies. And Planned Parenthood, as much as I owe them, are only speaking of individuals that medically need an abortion. I had no medical need, you see. I had a mental need. Yes, I made a mistake, I should have taken responsibility for that mistake. Maybe even chosen adoption. But I wasn’t strong enough. And, honestly, if given the same exact circumstances, I would make the same decision. As heartbreaking and difficult as it may have been and still is today, I still feel I had no other choice. Do we, as a nation, want to put women like me in a situation where back alley abortions become commonplace, or do we want to give women like me a safe place to have an abortion? It doesn’t matter if you agree with abortion or not, it will happen. Let’s make sure it will happen safely.
And another thing, I still think about that day. It’s etched into my memory for the rest of my life. If I continued with the pregnancy and had the child, he/she would have been 8 years old. I think about that everyday. I mourn that baby everyday. But in my heart, I know I did the right thing.
If you are reading this and think that I am a horrible person, so be it. I cannot help what you think and feel. But if you are reading this and don’t judge the decision I made, please share my story. I want others like me to come out and speak up. We need to end this war on a woman’s right to choose.
There is an enlightening chart, state by state here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_United_States_by_state