Jackie’s Story

Well, I haven’t seen a story similar to my own, so it’s time to write it.

I got pregnant when I was 20. While I was pro-choice, my choice was not abortion, so I had the child and kept her. She is twenty years old today.

I was denied a tubal ligation after my daughter’s birth. At that time in that state, a woman was not allowed to have one unless she’d had two children. The fact that I didn’t *want* two children was irrelevant as I might change my mind later. Or as they suggested, what if something happened to this one – as if a child were a puppy I could go out and replace.

I always had problems with birth control – and there weren’t as many choices back then. On the pill, I bled if I took it more than one hour off from day-to-day. The IUD made me cramp and bleed continuously for many months – I joked that it worked as birth control by making me to miserable to have sex. So I eventually settled on a diaphragm, which I used faithfully.

When my daughter was around a year old, I got pregnant in spite of said diaphragm. We were on welfare, living in subsidized housing, and I was in college… and was utterly exhausted trying to keep up with school and a child on my own. When I realized I was pregnant, I looked into my future and realized I would never finish college with two children, that we’d be on welfare for life, it was just too much for me.

I believed abortion was wrong, which was why I hadn’t had one with my daughter. I believed it was wrong *personally*, but was pro-choice politically because I felt my beliefs were just that – beliefs. I didn’t *know* when a fetus became a baby, no one did.

The first time around, I was the only one who would “pay” for my beliefs. This time, my daughter’s future was at stake as well. So it was for my daughter’s sake and her future that I chose to have an abortion.

I borrowed a few hundred bucks from someone I cleaned house for, basically asking for a few months pay in advance, to cover the cost of the abortion. I could not scrape together an additional 100 bucks for pain meds so went without.

My best friend took me to the clinic on the day of the procedure. There were protesters with gory pictures and they freaked me out, I was young and my emotions easily manipulated… I might have left if not for my friend’s support. I really owe her for being there for me.

The procedure itself hurt. It felt similar to birth, IUD insertion and extraction, and cervical biopsies I’d have years later. It hurt and I felt bad emotionally as well and I had nightmares about it for a few months. A therapist I was seeing at the time talked me through the nightmares and they went away.

Note that even while emotionally conflicted about my abortion, I *never* regretted it. It had been a logical and intellectual decision based on reality; it just took some time for my emotions to catch up.

In spite of the pain, both physical and emotional, I have never regretted having an abortion. I know I was right, know I could not have handled two children by myself all these years.

My daughter is healthy and happy today. During most of her growing up years, I was a professional with a good income. She has little memory of the time we spent on welfare. It was extremely difficult to make it during those years, physically, emotionally, financially, and in every way possible – and I’m certain I could not have done it with two children. It has been nearly two decades since my abortion. I have never had another child – the anti-sterilization crew was wrong about me changing my mind.

I have been married for two years now. My husband had a vasectomy before I met him, due to a panic after a condom broke and the realization that he didn’t want to be a parent. He was “allowed” to have a vasectomy without having had any children though I was not “allowed” to have one after having “only” one. He is a committed stepparent in spite of not wanting to be a parent and he and my daughter get along well. So finally, two decades later, the question of tubal ligation has become irrelevant in my life.

I do not think abortion is the easy decision that pro-life folks make it out to be; mine was certainly not. I had difficulty with my choice; it was not easy at all. But I have never regretted it, as it was the best choice for my daughter and for myself.