It was a sunny Friday the 13th of May, 1994. I was 19 and pregnant. My boyfriend had reluctantly driven me to the nearest abortion clinic earlier that morning, after an awkward series of events. With the help of my best friend at the time, a location was found and an appointment scheduled a week prior. It was the first time I was having a medical procedure without my mom nearby.
I finished the pregnancy test and paperwork, and handed over my personal credit card for the $300 charge. Then I was told at five weeks pregnant, they could not guarantee the results of the procedure, but that was not a worry of mine. I had to pretend this pregnancy did not occur, after all I had my whole life ahead. My boyfriend did NOT want the baby, and a few weeks prior my mother had voiced her very strong opinions about having a racially mixed grand baby. Yes, I was dating a man of African American descent and I was about as White as they come. The truth is: I really had no desire to have the baby. I was way too egocentric at the time. So even when the health care worker described the alternatives, I effortlessly said, “no thank you.”
My boyfriend was as supportive as was possible for a 19 year-old artiste/womanizer. He said he would pay for half of the procedure, but that was as solid as the rest of his promises. I knew in my heart he was a loser, and the pregnancy was a product of a huge mistake. However, at the time I was too selfish to even worry about regret or restitution . I only wanted to be done with the mistake; to move on.
I left the clinic that afternoon feeling very ill and bleeding heavily. However, luck seemed to be on my side: the abortion was successful. It was a chapter of my life that I closed and gratefully locked away for safe keeping.
Almost 17 years have passed since the abortion. In that time, I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters and a loving husband. Both our girls attend a private Christian school, and we are active members at a neighborhood Christian church. I had not even thought about that “May day” in a very long time. However, this past Friday (January 20th, 2011) I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with Frances Kissling on Being, while driving to my daughter’s piano lesson. Krista ended the show asking for reflections and stories from the audience about abortion. It was at that moment, with my two girls sleeping peacefully in the backseat, I made the decision to share my story.
As I reflect on the abortion issue, I believe it is very easy for some to sit and judge the actions of others, especially when they are not in the situation. If presented with a pregnancy today, I would not even consider having an abortion. No, not just because I am married. And no, not because I am a Christian. The reason is because the confident woman I am today is a far cry from the frightened and misguided 19 year-old girl of yesteryear. But at the time, I was confident my decision to have an abortion was the right one. Without realizing what I had done all those years ago, I practically locked away a very painful memory.
Few people know I had an abortion. It is not a case of secrecy, because if someone asked if I had one I would not lie. No, it is more of a private issue. I know abortion is a topic that causes such high emotions, and I am sure I would hurt many around me if they knew. However, I am grateful I had the opportunity to chose what to do with my body. As much as I may disagree with my younger self, I would NEVER consider not letting my girls have those same choices. Choices are what defines us as people, and choices are what are essential to understand responsibility. Regardless of what I believe is the RIGHT decision, I believe each woman should have the opportunity to find that out for herself.
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