It happened when I was 20. I rarely think about it, but I remember it so clearly…
Calling my sister. She was making dinner and was stirring something. The stirring sound stopped when I told her my news.
Confiding in a new friend. We had a lot of classes together, and I thought she was cool. After I told her, she stopped talking to me. I didn’t realize she was pro-life.
Eating saltines immediately after waking up to stop the nausea. I was living with my parents and they always kept crackers around for soup. They had no idea.
Observing the other women in the waiting room. My boyfriend was with me, but some were alone, like the middle-aged woman with short curly hair who looked very serene. There were teenagers with mothers and women my age with friends. They all appeared stressed out.
Seeing a young woman in the recovery room who was sobbing. A fan was directed at her and her hair was blowing back as the cried openly. I wondered about her story.
Looking at myself in the mirror at the clinic and feeling relief.
I’ve never written about my abortion. I tried to, right after it happened. I was on staff at my college newspaper and told my (male) editor I wanted to write a column about my experience. He was uncomfortable with the idea and suggested I write a pro/con piece instead, as if the world needed another one of those.
Oh, I thought. It’s a safe, legal medical procedure, but it’s saddled with so much political and moral baggage that hearing a personal account would make people uneasy. Of course it would.
I wanted to process it by writing about it. I wanted to dispel the stigma. I wanted to comfort other women. But instead, I gave up on the idea in an effort to manage the feelings of others.
But now, the voices of the one in four women in the U.S. who’ve had an abortion need to be heard.
With this president, our reproductive rights are at a crossroads. Given the upcoming retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate voice on the Supreme Court who was thought to be the key in keeping Roe v. Wade alive, this president is expected nominate a justice who would vote to ban nationwide legal abortion.
While it’s unlikely that Roe would be reversed completely, women in 22 states could lose access to abortion immediately if it’s overturned. From this article:
The first thing to remember is that overturning Roe doesn’t make abortion illegal altogether. According to The Guttmacher Institute, there are four states that will automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned, 10 states that have pre-Roe bans on the books that would likely be valid again after a U.S. Supreme Court decision, and another eight states that have said they will ban abortion to the fullest extent possible once Roe is no longer the law of the land.
It would still be legal in my state, although some politicians in Pennsylvania (and other states) have been making efforts to restrict abortion for years.
One of many examples: A few months ago, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill banning abortions for fetuses with Down Syndrome. The governor has said he won’t sign it into law if the PA Senate also passes it, so it’s not likely to go anywhere.
Still, this is obviously a dishonest (and, frankly, disgusting and dangerous) argument in which Down Syndrome is being used as a tool for pro-life politicians to chip away at women’s rights.
My brother has Downs, and I saw how challenging it was for my parents to raise him. They did an amazing job and I give them a lot of credit. But it was hard. And it’s not for everyone.
Plus, this bill would not provide extra resources for those with Downs. I know firsthand that this is very much needed. The bill is a red herring if there ever was one.
During the time that’s passed since my abortion, as pro-life crusaders put more restrictions on women’s reproductive rights across this country, I’ve felt so grateful that I was able to control by body and my life and make a decision that was best for me.
In the future, a great number of women might not be so fortunate.
My friend Amy inspired me to write this because she shared her story publicly. I encourage other women to do so, too. Stories have power and our voices have power. Let’s not stay silent!