I was 19, and very ignorant about birth control, thanks to a mother who felt uncomfortable discussing sex, and a boyfriend who wanted to get laid, period, and who claimed that the “pulling out” method was perfectly reliable. Yeah, right. I should have known better, but there it goes.
My mother has always been pro-choice, so I did not have any problem on that side. My then-boyfriend took for granted that I’d “get rid of it,” and that, if I decided to carry the pregnancy to term, it would be my problem. At 19, he did not even consider the possibility of having his sorry butt dragged in court for child support. Fortunately for him, I concluded that having a baby was not an option. Many years after the abortion, I am still childfree, and happy to be. It’s not that I don’t like kids: I am just not interested in motherhood. And please spare me the “oooh you are so selfish” stuff. In an overpopulated world, I am not sure that deciding against motherhood is such a bad idea.
Anyway. I was 19 and clueless, we already established that. My mom took care of everything, God bless her. Oh I know that the idea that God could bless a mother who helps her daughter have an abortion will raise hairs. But why not? Why should not God bless a woman who took her child’s best interest at heart? She hid it from everyone, including my dad. She took me to a gynecologist, then to the clinic, and then took me home, all the while without a word of reproach. I suspect she felt a bit guilty for not having talked to me about protection. Still, I am thankful. Mothers: a honest talk today could spare pain and trauma tomorrow. Please don’t think that teenage sex will go away if you simply don’t talk about it.
So off we go to the clinic, where a female gynecologist whom I remember as “the butcher” (not because she was performing abortions, but because of her horrible manners) threw me on this bed and started talking and handling me as if I was cattle. Thankfully, the clinic had as a policy that a psychologist should assist abortion patients, and the kindness of this person made it more bearable. I went back home dazed, tired and confused. I was too dazed to feel relief or remorse. I just wanted to lie down. But the next day I was feeling better, and ready to move on. And I did learn my lesson.
Do I feel guilty? Depends. I do wish I never put myself in that situation, that I had been more careful. Then again, I do wish I had never been involved with that jerk to begin with. But I do not feel guilty: I feel sad. There is a certain sadness associated with the loss of a potential life. I insist: potential. The fetus I aborted was nothing more than a clump of cells, while I was a full person, and I do not believe that a potential life should have priority over my own body and personhood. Still, I think about it with sadness rather than guilt. On the other hand, I do not believe it was all my fault: I had no information, and I trusted someone who claimed he loved me. Since my abortion, I never had unprotected sex again. Do I regret having an abortion given what the situation was? No. I would be a hypocrite if I said I regret it. If I were in the same situation, I would do the same thing. As a good friend, mother of two, says, motherhood can be such a burden that no one should enter it unless by full choice. Being scared with promises of fire and brimstone, being threatened by parents, being stopped by lack of money, insurance, or by legislation is not choice.
I decided to come out with my story recently to be consistent. While my sexual and reproductive choice is my business (and my partner’s business), I realize that as long as women do feel ashamed to tell their story the stigma will be stronger. So, I decide to give up my strong sense of privacy. I had an abortion, and I am not sorry I did. Never once I thought I’d be better off if I hadn’t.