I have thought about writing this post for a while. I’m starting it now after about an hour of swiping through dating apps on my phone. On OkCupid the system asks you whether or not you support defunding Planned Parenthood. If you say no it puts this little badge on your profile that says “#IStandWithPP”. My immediate reaction is “what a weird thing to put on a dating profile.” I suppose sex politics are so big right now, such a “hot topic”. It makes sense that you’d look for someone who shares your values.
When I think about the whole defund PP thing, my main thought is this – what would I have done without PP when I got pregnant.
I wanna share my abortion story because I think it’s important for these experiences to be heard by people who may be in a similar situation, but also and maybe more importantly by people who have not and maybe never will be able to relate.
Warning: I’m going to share my story and my “political opinions” here.
The media, religious institutions, our educational system, and politicians both Dem and Rep alike talk about abortion as a traumatizing experience, a “difficult decision”, and a cause for lifelong regret. Though some women may have an experience like this, studies show that it is simply not reality for the majority of women who elect to have an abortion.
Since I’m not writing a research paper here, I encourage you to check out this interesting Slate article that shares the statistics here. Meanwhile I’ll move on…
The facts are that the majority of women find the decision easy to make AND don’t feel regret afterwards. I am one of these women.
I got pregnant my junior year of college. My period was like two weeks late and every day I’d go to the bathroom to inspect myself looking for blood, to no avail. I took an at home pregnancy test but those things are harder to read than you’d think. So I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood to get a pregnancy test done. I didn’t even research what to do or where to go, I simply knew that PP would be able to help.
I was having morning sickness. Heads up to potential moms out there…you can get morning sickness super early in. I brought my friend with me to the appointment. They had me pee in a cup. They also gave me a drug to calm my nausea. They wouldn’t let my friend into the office with me but then when the result came they let her hear it with me. I should’ve known the result from that alone.
When she told me I was pregnant I teared up immediately. Before they give you the test they ask you if the test comes out positive if you would “terminate” or not. After she told my result she asked me if I still wanted to terminate. I did not even hesitate in saying yes.
This decision was not hard for me to make. Being a 21 year old mom was completely out of the question. I’m 24 now and I would still make the same decision then or now. I feel zero regret. I made the medical decision that was right for me. I’m sure this will offend some people but the doctor took an ultrasound and told me the “fetus” (not even a fetus yet technically I just don’t know the proper word) was the size of a pea. That’s not a baby to me. I was early on enough that I did not even need any surgical procedure. I would just have to take two pills and it would be done. I scheduled the appointment.
The cost for this was about $500 if I remember correctly. I was a college student and did not have an income so I needed help. I told my aunt and she told me she’d pay for it. She was the first person that I called. At the time I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell my mom. My aunt encouraged me to, and I agreed. I told my sister and she agreed to help me tell my mom.
I sat my mom down in her room. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My sister was there. I just said, “mom, I made a very adult mistake and now there are some very adult consequences.” I told her about the appointment, and then I told her my plan. I described the medical procedure, the cost, everything, including that my aunt would pay for it. Her eyes were welling up with tears but she was calm. She just said “okay”. She told me that she would make the same decision if she was in my shoes. She harped on the importance of not letting my father know. Then she told me she would pay for it.
*Sidebar about how lucky I am to have family members who are supportive and financially able to help me. I know not all women have this same privilege.*
Before they give you the pills they make you watch a video on abortion. I’m assuming this is supposed to be a last attempt at shaming you out of it.
You take one pill at the office and then another several hours later at home. It is super easy and relatively painless. They also give you pain medication to use, and an anti-nausea pill.
I bought a cheap pair of velour sweatpants and a set of Disney’s Frozen themed adult underwear from Walmart. I put them on and took my second pill. This pill essentially makes you have a period. It makes your uterus contract, which can cause cramping. It just felt like a heavy period. I bled a decent amount. It was all over within 12 hours. No regrets.
My friends at the time shamed and bullied me. Most of those people are no longer my friends. They talked about it behind my back. One girl expressed that it bothered her that I wasn’t struggling more with it. They gossiped about it as if it couldn’t have been them ten million other times, all of the other times where they had their own pregnancy scare. As if because maybe I’m more fertile and it wound up being real for me and not them that I was some sort of slut and a monster for not falling into a depression over making the decision to terminate. Even though of course they even admit that they would have done the same thing.
Maybe the reason my experience bothered them was because they’ve been told all their lives that abortion is sad and traumatizing and shameful. I’ll be even bolder in saying that JUST MAYBE some women only end up having this negative experience because they too were socialized into thinking that they’re supposed to feel scared and ashamed and sad. Maybe that’s why the only stories we hear about are those negative ones, because people like me are told that it’s fucked up that the experience was easy for us, so we don’t share our story.
We are living in a political climate where the administration wants to defund women’s healthcare programs which will minimize access to birth control and family planning services…which WILL, as history shows us, increase things like unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancies, etc…but ALSO wants to defund programs that help families in poverty, single parents, etc. So I’m confused. You say it is morally wrong to abort a pregnancy, you force women to go through with unwanted pregnancies, but then you’re like “nope, poor people are lazy, no healthcare for you or your baby!” Like can you explain this thought process to me?
So the story comes full circle…back to the topic of PP. I am so privileged in having the financial means to pay for the abortion. However, not all women share in my privilege. Gender equality will not exist until we have a society and government that recognizes female health needs as legitimate, and creates a system where this healthcare is accessible to all.
Again, I really recommend this article from Slate, and I always urge you to do more research and fact checking.
If you are reading this and you’re feeling some type of way about an experience of your own…please don’t feel alone or unsupported. So many women have shared your experience.
Up until 2008 it was believed that one in every three women would have an abortion by age 45. One third! That is so many women that you probably know in your own life that have this shared experience even if they don’t talk about it.
Since 2008 (Obama administration, cough) the abortion rate has done down. The one in three statistic is most likely no longer accurate. See this article from The Washington Post for some fact checking on this particular statistic.
My final note is this – I share my experience because it is real and raw and I know there are others who may find it relatable. I also share it in an attempt to hack away at the stigmatization of abortion. I do NOT share my experience with the intention or assertion that anyone else’s feelings are not valid. I recognize and respect that some women may truly feel sadness, pain, or regret about their abortion and that is okay. I know that I made the right decision for myself and my body, though my decision may not be right for everybody.