I was 28.
I had a Masters degree.
I had a full-time job and employer-provided health care. It provided comprehensive women’s health coverage, including birth control at no out-of-pocket cost for me.
I was on birth control.
I got pregnant.
I had an abortion.
I don’t fit the stereotype of individuals who have elected to terminate a pregnancy. I wasn’t young. I wasn’t uneducated. I wasn’t working an hourly job. By not fitting the stereotype, I also don’t have what our culture deems a “good reason” for having an abortion. I was old enough, smart enough, and had enough financial stability that I could have raised a child. I was in a committed relationship. I had a partner who would have been supportive in co-parenting. I even had it “so together” that I probably could have passed off my pregnancy as planned.
I just didn’t want to have a child then. Or maybe ever. And that should be enough.
I could also give you a long list of excuses for how I came to be pregnant. Maybe I took something that interacted with the efficacy of my birth control. The truth is that like many people, I regularly forgot to take my birth control. Truthfully, I wasn’t always so attentive about taking my birth control because I thought with my hypothyroidism I wouldn’t get pregnant anyway. And so, my carelessness and inattentiveness resulted in an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.
I was lucky. Within 10 minutes of my apartment there were two clinics that provided abortion services. Within two hours, there were ten more clinics accessible to me. I also lived in a state that only had “relatively” restrictive abortion laws. They “only” had to provide me with a packet of information, perform an ultrasound, and make me wait 24 hours between initial examination and the procedure.
My experience at the clinic was great. The staff, nurses, and physician were incredibly kind and graceful. I ultimately chose the clinic I did because they were the only one who allowed a support person to be present with me during the procedure. My partner sat next to me and held my hand while my pregnancy was terminated. It took less than five minutes. I was kept under observation for about an hour and was sent home with antibiotics and super Tylenol for the discomfort. I laid on the couch all weekend and went to work Monday morning like every Monday morning.
I also don’t make a “good” post-abortion person. Why not? I don’t carry the required post-abortion guilt. I can’t tell you about feelings of emptiness, sadness, or immense regret and shame. I wasn’t depressed afterward. I haven’t seen a therapist because of it. In fact, I felt relief. After I fully recovered from the procedure and realized my morning sickness and mental fogginess had left, I felt whole again.
I work in a field where you would think that I could be public about the fact that I’ve had an abortion. Many of my friends are jealous of my progressive parents. I move in intersectional feminist circles. I do social justice work professionally.
But now I do this work in the South. It’s a place that doesn’t feel safe to disclose that I’ve had an abortion. Only five people I know personally are aware of my abortion. My family doesn’t know. My primary care physician doesn’t even know.
For all the reasons I listed above. I don’t have a “good enough” reason for an abortion. I don’t have a “good enough” excuse why I became pregnant. I don’t have a “good enough” response for how I feel since having an abortion.
Why am I guest blogging about this now?
Because reproductive rights are under attack like never before. President Trump made sure that during his first full week in office that he would reinstate the abortion “gag rule” which prevents foreign health organizations from even mentioning abortion as a family planning option if they want to receive American aid. They don’t even have to be an abortion provider – so long as they even discuss or disclose abortion is a family planning option, they lose the ability to access the approximately $600 million dollars in international health care aid the US annually spends.
When President Trump was on the campaign trail, he also stated that individuals like me should “face some sort of punishment” for having an abortion.
What do I want you to do with my personal story?
I don’t know, really. File it away. Challenge your perception of why people get abortions. Realize we don’t all feel shitty about our choice after the fact. See a little bit of yourself in me. I could launch into all the pro-choice arguments. I could defiantly say that if you don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. I could implore you to envision me as your daughter, partner, sister, whoever you need to compare me to so that to you’ll be more empathetic to my perspective.
Honestly, I just felt a sense of duty to share my abortion story when politicians proudly condemn me and everyday people feel so empowered to shame me.
Why Chronic Sex?
Chronic Sex is the perfect place to discuss pregnancy – whether it was wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, carried to term or terminated. This is a space dedicated to safely discussing relationships and sexuality. And sometimes that means discussing pregnancy and abortion. I think abortion ranks up there on shame-filled sex discussions.
I wish there were more spaces like Chronic Sex. I wish could sign my name to this blog post and proudly state that I’ve had an abortion. And it wasn’t that bad. And that if I had to go back, I’d do it again. That my reasons were good enough.
This guest blog comes on the heels of an attack on reproductive rights worldwide by Donald Trump. Please read more about the gag rule and get involved with ways to fight it through organizations such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU.
As always, you are welcome to share a guest post. Email me at kirsten at chronicsex dot org.