Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about my abortion
But were too afraid to ask
One out of three women in this country will get an abortion during her lifetime and I am one of them. Donald Trump says he believes there should be “some kind of punishment” for women like me, but we are your friends and family and the women you see every single day. We aren’t amoral monsters. We aren’t just statistics or fodder for campaign soundbites. We’re regular people making choices for our lives just like anyone else.
Folks understandably have questions about abortion, but because there is stigma attached to it, those questions often go unanswered.
Here are answers to some of the questions I encounter frequently as honestly as I can put them. I hope this may be helpful for people to get a better understanding of abortion and to reduce the stigma surrounding the issue.
When did you first realize you were pregnant?
I was waiting for a train when I randomly got sick on the platform.
I thought maybe I had food poisoning. A nearby woman gave me a napkin from her pocket to wipe my mouth. She leaned in close and asked in a hushed tone, “Do you think you might be pregnant?” Something about my reaction to this question worried her; her facial expression changed from concerned to panicked on my behalf. This was the first time I realized I might be pregnant.
Why did you get an abortion?
I got an abortion because I wasn’t ready to be a mother.
I found out I was pregnant a few days after moving to a new city alone.
I moved to start a new job where I had no health insurance, no leave of any kind, and because I was a probationary contractor, would almost certainly be fired if anyone found out I was pregnant. Yes this is illegal, but ask around — it happens. I didn’t really have a real place to live. I was crashing in an empty apartment. The only furniture I had was a mattress because I’d spent my entire savings on my move. I was broke.
I was also young enough that I felt ill-equipped for parenthood. Not in the “this baby would really cramp my party-vibes style” kind of way, but in the “I have no faith that I can properly raise a functional child” way. In many ways, I was still trying to raise myself into adulthood. I have very supportive parents, but we were not close enough that moving back home home and raising a child with their help felt like a viable option.
Were you using birth control when you got pregnant?
No. At the time, I didn’t feel I was having enough sexual encounters to warrant being on birth control. This obviously didn’t turn out to be the case.
What about condoms? Were you using a condom when you got pregnant?
No. In theory we all know we’re supposed to use protection when we have sexual encounters, but if we’re all being honest, most people will admit that they have had an experience where they haven’t taken such precautions.
Maybe you got caught up in the passion of the moment. Maybe the guy says it will feel better if he takes it off. Maybe you think you can get the timing *just right* (you know what I mean.) Maybe you’ve had a few too many drinks and you’re not thinking seriously enough about the consequences. I can’t pinpoint for certain what my situation was, probably some combination of all of these .
Woah. That sounds pretty immature of you…
Yes. I was young and I was not a mature adult.
Did it hurt (physically)?
Not really. It was more an uncomfortable pressure than anything else. The entire process did not last very long. I was very sore, weak, and crampy afterward, but I was never in any real pain.
Did it hurt (emotionally) ?
Yes. The whole situation was very sad, but I think the saddest thing about my abortion is how alone I felt. It’s common to go to a clinic with a friend or a partner, but I went by myself because I didn’t know anyone to ask to go with me. I thought about asking a friend from home to fly out and go with me, but I hadn’t told a soul (other than the doctor) that I was pregnant and as my appointment date loomed, I just couldn’t do it. I’d call up friends, but I couldn’t make myself say the words. I was really scared.
I took a cab home from the clinic. I wasn’t feeling good at all and I wasn’t sure I could get upstairs into my apartment without help. The cab driver stopped the meter and double parked so he could help me up the three flights of stairs to get me inside. As he looked around at my barren apartment, he seemed so sad for me and my life.
I got into bed with all my clothes on and sobbed and sobbed for what felt like hours. My pillows and sheets were still wet with tears when I woke up.
I’ve never felt more alone.
That sounds bleak…
It was. I don’t regret my abortion and I know I made the right choice, but I don’t want to sugarcoat it either — it wasn’t easy.
Do you think about it a lot?
I think about it sometimes. When I see a kid on the street who looks about the age mine could be now, I think about what it would be like if I had gone through with the pregnancy. I think a lot about why I felt so alone that I couldn’t even tell my closest friends what was happening. I think about never wanting to feel that alone in my life again.
But does it “haunt” you?
No. I wouldn’t say my abortion haunts me.
Do you think you’re going to hell?
No. I am religious, but I believe that my God is a merciful God who understands that people have to make hard decisions in life.
Do you feel ashamed?
Remember how I said I couldn’t even tell my closet friends I was getting an abortion? I think this is because I felt ashamed about terminating a pregnancy. I think it’s normal to feel ashamed about abortion because we live in a society that tells women the choices they make for themselves aren’t valid. I worked through a lot of these feelings and I now feel very secure in the fact that I did what was right for me at the time. Despite the stigma around abortion, I don’t feel ashamed. Even though it was hard, I did what was right for me.
But wait, some women have abortions because they were raped or because childbirth will put their lives in danger, but you had an abortion because you weren’t ready for motherhood. Doesn’t that make you a shitty person?
No. Some people act like the only “valid” reasons for a woman to get an abortion are a) because she’s been raped or b) because her life is in danger. These people don’t understand the realities of women’s lives. There aren’t “understandable” abortions and “bad” abortions — there are only abortions. Women need to terminate a pregnancy for all kinds of reasons and those reasons are hers and hers alone. It isn’t up to anyone else to say what circumstances are okay or not okay and you don’t get to make decisions for someone else’s lives for them. You can trust women to know that their reasons for terminating a pregnancy are “the right reasons,” whatever they may be.
Do you want children ?
Badly. I think about becoming a mother every day. I think having a child is such an important decision that people should be able to decide they’re really ready before they decide to become parents.
If you had it to do over and the circumstances were the same, would you decide to get an abortion again?
Without a doubt, yes. I was young, broke, Black, and alone in a big expensive city. We don’t live in a country that makes it easy for women to make the choice to have children if they aren’t well off, partnered or otherwise supported . We live in a country that makes welfare recipients pee in cups to get money for food. We live in a country where people urge women to go through with their pregnancies only to shame them when they’re poor single mothers.
Abortion made my life better. I don’t regret my choice at all. It was without a doubt the right choice for my life.