Sep 032010

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I had an abortion. And what’s interesting is that when I talk about it I get more flack than anyone, for one simple reason: I didn’t suffer. I mean, I had some physical pain, but emotionally it wasn’t an issue for me. This isn’t because I’m a hard unfeeling evil woman-on the contrary, I’m a passionate, feeling, loving human being (I’m even deeply religious!). It’s because I don’t believe abortion is murder. When I say I don’t believe it, I MEAN it. To me it’s a fetus, not a child. I’m not justifying, I’m not blocking. I’m speaking the truth of my world. It’s only socially allowable, it seems, if the woman is crying and crawling on her knees and beating her breast and professes that having an abortion is something she deplores but, somehow, does anyway. It’s only “okay” if you regret it and hate yourself for doing it. And I say, FUCK THAT. Anyone who cares about women should not want women to suffer.

I got pregnant about a year and a half ago. I was never terribly careful with birth control, and I can’t use the pill (hormones have very bad effects on me). Eventually I got unlucky. I was pregnant by Patrick, who was then my fiancé and is now my husband. When I took the store-bought test, about 2 weeks after my period should have arrived, I immediately scheduled an abortion (which was a trick, as I had NO privacy at work). Then I told Patrick. AFTER I had scheduled the abortion. I didn’t ask his permission, I didn’t ask his opinion. My body, my choice. Period. Patrick respects me and he never questioned my decision, though he was more ambivalent about it than I.

I had made an appointment for a surgical abortion, but upon looking in the phone book again, I saw that there were a couple of places advertising chemical abortions. A chemical abortion is like RU-486 and seemed preferable to me; I’m not into surgery. I changed my appointment.

Patrick drove me to the hospital on the day of, but he had to wait in the lobby. Not the lobby of the clinic, but the general hospital lobby; they’ve had scary pro-lifer experiences before. I was questioned to make sure I was really me, and then directed to the clinic. I was allowed to walk down many twisting, unmarked corridors, up and down elevators, till I found the door. No men are allowed to even know where the clinic is. The staff, as far as I saw, was entirely female.

I was quickly examined, then given an ultrasound to make sure I was really pregnant. Eventually I was taken into a conference-type room with a kindly older woman who explained the procedure to me, including side effects and instructions, and made sure I was ready and willing to go through the procedure.

Medical abortions are more complicated than surgical ones- at least, for the women involved. I was administered a shot, then given four pills. The shot stopped the fetal growth. A few days later, I waited until Patrick came home, then inserted the pills (misoprostol) into my vagina, took some codeine-laced Tylenol I was prescribed and waited for the ride to begin. What the pills do is cause contractions. This causes you to expel the fetal tissue. Basically, you’re having a miscarriage. A lot of the “orientation” that the kindly woman in the conference room gave me consisted of explaining to me how this could hurt a LOT and I could bleed a LOT. Apparently there have been issues with women checking themselves into the hospital in a panic. Basically, it’s a lesser form of labor, and can be scary.

At first it wasn’t too bad… uncomfortable, but not terrible. But then I made a mistake-I took my second dose of Tylenol-3 without eating anything light with it. That stuff is hard on a poor stomach, and mine was already messed up from the contractions. I threw it up. Then the fun really began. I’ll spare you the details, but in general, I had about an hour of very bad pain- like labor. I was crying, moaning, speaking and praying incoherently, lying on the floor, in the bathtub, going fetal, rocking back and forth… it was bad. Patrick was trying helplessly to soothe me; he was kind of scared, and no wonder. However, I have since gone through labor and I can safely say that labor is MUCH worse.

It went away. I don’t remember what it felt like. I did bleed heavily for the next week and a half. Despite what you may have read, there was no little fetus popping out of me; at 8 weeks it’s still too small to see. The process was just like a heavy period. I wore pads. Since then I’ve been fine. A few nostalgic moments. I’ve never cried. The idea of crying over it doesn’t make sense to me. I am not sad about it. It was the right decision.

Four years later I had my first child – got pregnant on the first try, no real complications. I attended the March to Save Women’s Lives in DC when I was 39 weeks pregnant. I gave birth to a perfectly healthy 8lb 6oz boy, Isaac. Isaac would not exist were it not for my first abortion. I now know exactly how right I was to not have a child the first time, as I was in no way ready. I will have more children – planned, wanted, and chosen.

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