Sep 052010

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Over ten years ago, I had two abortions. The first was at age 17; the second two years later. On the first occasion, I had just left home under very difficult circumstances. I was fumbling my way into adulthood; my first real sexual relationship was with a man almost twenty years older than I was. It was a tempestuous relationship, and troubled. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that I needed to end it. But by that time, I’d had a slip-up with a diaphragm and found myself pregnant.

I knew right away what I wanted and needed to do. I don’t remember considering—even for a millisecond—actually having a child at that point in my life. I had plans, goals, and dreams for myself, and my whole life before me.

A small-town family planning clinic in Massachusetts helped me find a clinic to do the abortion. They were professional, competent, and non-judgmental in helping me to assess my options. (Even though, again, I knew from the start what I wanted to do!). I was about eight weeks pregnant.

I had the abortion under local anesthesia at an outpatient clinic. It was painful but very fast, and the staff was excellent and compassionate and non-judgmental. I’ll never forget them. Just as the staff told me, abortion is minor surgery and I was able to return to work within two days. I was relieved, I was happy, and I was proud of myself for taking charge of my life and not just falling into an unwanted pregnancy. The second abortion, two years later, went similarly. This time, I was with a man I loved and we both agreed abortion was the right step.

I have never regretted those decisions for an instant. In fact, I look back on my abortions as possibly the best and most important decisions I’ve made in my life.

Yes, I could’ve raised children if I was forced to (if abortion was illegal). And I’m sure I would have made the best of it. But because I was able to choose not to become a parent at such a young age, I’ve had a great, great life. I was able to put myself through college, work at interesting jobs, travel, have passionate and compelling sexual and romantic relationships with interesting men, learn to play a musical instrument, be politically active, read lots of books, work as a union organizer, and do lots and lots of other great and fulfilling things. I would not have been able to do even a fraction of all this if I’d been a parent at age 17 or 20.

This is why abortion can be, and very often is, a positive choice for women. When women have abortions, they are thinking things through carefully, taking responsibility, and deciding what they want the quality of their (and their potential children’s!) lives to be like. I know that when and if I decide to have children, it will be because I really, really want and am ready for them!

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