If I had listened to the subway ads for post-abortion trauma counseling, or the men at the clinic brandishing rosaries and yelling racist pleas not to “kill your black/Hispanic/Oriental baby,” things would be different.
I would not hold a degree, and I would not be building a career.
My child’s father would have been a man who sexually, emotionally and mentally abused me.
Worst of all, my child would not have the financial and emotional support necessary for a healthy life.
When I was 19, I got pregnant for the first time. On the recommendation of a friend, I opted for a medical abortion.
I was left to go through the process alone, which made the experience difficult. While my side effects were unusually strong, I was grateful and relieved to have been able to have an abortion.
Several years later, in college, I got pregnant again. The pregnancy may have been from a condom breaking or from carelessness in not applying the condom before the first moment of penetration.
This time I had a surgical abortion. The doctor was kind and caring, and her assistant held my hand and told me what was happening.
I told my friends that I was having an abortion, and they offered ample emotional support. I didn’t feel alienated, because I was part of a vocally pro-choice community. Now I coordinate a group of abortion clinic escorts to deflect the harassment of antichoice protesters.
If I had listened to the antichoice protesters, I would not be able to pursue my life goals.
Currently, the World Health Organization conservatively estimates about 47,000 women die every year due to lack of access to safe abortion services. I want to change that. The world I envision is filled with happy, healthy, nourished babies and parents.
This essay was originally published in the 2005 edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”