[Family TMI warning re: my reproductive history]
One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, in America.
I am one of them.
It's not like I've really been terribly secretive about the fact that I've had an abortion. I've posted in threads on abortion at Shakesville, discussing the procedure and helping to allay a fellow Shaker's nerves pre-procedure. My immediate family all knows about it; hell, my mom made the two-hour drive to where I lived at the time so she could go to the clinic with me, and I spent the weekend afterward at her house so she could keep an eye on and take care of me. But I've also never publicly "come out" here, in my space.
I am inspired by Angie Jackson, aka @antitheistangie, who is live-tweeting and blogging her abortion this past week. She's a mother of one, whose birth control failed and who has health complications that would make carrying a second pregnancy to term quite dangerous for her. So she chose to have an abortion, and has chosen to share the experience with the world to combat the stigma, shame, and lies anti-choicers have surrounded the procedure with.
Those of us who work for social justice, who work to dismantle kyriarchy and raise the status of marginalized groups to true equality with the white-cis-currently abled-straight-Christian-man who stands at the top of the hierarchy, we know that visibility works wonders. It's easy to talk about "those people" when you don't know those people, have never met one of those people, and can believe the lies about them because you've never seen for yourself the real truth. But studies have shown that straight people who have openly-gay neighbors and coworkers and family members tend to be more supportive of equality for the LGBT community. The same goes for various racial and ethnic groups, for transpeople, for people with disabilities...and in this case, it will hopefully have the same effect of humanizing women who have had abortions, from the nasty stereotypes of selfishness and baby-hating.
So. This is what a woman who's had an abortion looks like (pic is of myself, Myspace-style, to show off some pretty purple eyeshadow):
It happened almost four years ago. I had been on the Pill at the time; my then-boyfriend and I were long-distance and saw each other two to three times a year, so I tended to go off the Pill when we were apart, and then about 6 weeks ahead of a visit, go back on it, to give it time to be fully effective when we saw each other again. That visit had been shorter-notice, so I'd only been on it for about three weeks. Knowing that, we also used a spermicide, as an extra precaution. It failed. I found out about a week after he'd gone home. We had talked about the situation in hypothetical terms before, so when I called him, it was mostly to let him know, rather than discuss our options.
See, I've long known I don't want kids. Not now, not ever. I'm not a kid person. And I know myself well enough to know I'd resent having to constantly be putting this other person first, denying my own desires where they conflicted with the needs of my child. No child deserves that. I'd be a lousy mother. So instead, I won't be one at all. Which makes the question of what to do with an unintended pregnancy pretty damn simple, for me. (Yes, I'm aware adoption is an option. Three problems with that. 1: I'm terrified of pregnancy and childbirth and the toll it would take on my body, and I'm not willing to go through that only to give the child away anyway, 2: There is NO way in hell I can afford the costs of pregnancy and birth, cause that shit is expensive, and 3: emotionally, I couldn't stand to live the rest of my life knowing I had a child out there somewhere, but never knowing what was happening to it. See, I know I'd make a lousy mother cause I'm too selfish for it, but it's not that I wouldn't *care* about the kid at all. I would care, and it would compound my already-not-insignificant depression a hundred times over to care about a child of my blood and body and not know where ve was, if ve was loved and having a good life, all that.)
Thus, abortion was a decision I'd already made in the hypothetical, and as soon as the test confirmed I was pregnant, I knew what I was going to do. My first call was to my boyfriend, my second to my mother, and my third to the local Planned Parenthood, to find out if they provided abortions, or if they didn't, if they could refer me to someone who did.
Because I'd found out so early in the pregnancy, at only 4 weeks along, I was within the window of eligibility to have a chemical or medical abortion, as opposed to a surgical abortion. The nurse at PP (which did, in fact, provide abortion services) explained that it would be a set of two pills, spaced 48 hours apart, the first of which would stop fetal development, and the second of which would provoke the expulsion of the pregnancy tissue. I could take the second set at home, and spend a weekend basically having an induced miscarriage in private, instead of having the whole thing take place at the clinic. It sounded better than the alternative, so I picked that option, and that Thursday, I took the first pill at the clinic. They gave me the second set, along with some anti-nausea meds, because one of the side effects of the second drug can be severe nausea, and told me to take them Saturday morning.
I finished out the week's classes, packed up, and drove to my mom's for the weekend. I spent the weekend relaxing on her couch, watching movies together and just chilling while the drugs did their thing. It was remarkably easy, for me; I've heard of women who had terrible cramps and threw up all the time, but I basically felt like I was having a heavier-than-usual period. I went back to school on Monday, and by the end of that week, it was all over and done with. I had a follow-up appointment to make sure the pregnancy tissue had been fully expelled; it had, and that was all.
Maybe this is overshare. Maybe this is TMI. Maybe the world didn't need to hear about my abortion. But for now, when abortion is stigmatized and secretive and something to be hidden and ashamed of, the visibility is needed to combat anti-choice lies and misinformation. I look forward to the day when the culture war is won and women aren't demonized for exercising their reproductive rights in this way, and when that day comes, I will happily keep my abortion to myself, just like I would keep the details of any other medical or surgical procedure to myself, because they're personal and private and mine. Until then, though, I will stand up and say it.
I have had an abortion. I do not feel shame, or guilt, or regret. I don't think wistfully about how old "my baby" would have been now. In fact, I have to think hard to figure out how many years ago it was now. I am not sorry. I made the best decision for me, my boyfriend, my family, and my life. That's what matters.
I am one in three.