Rosa’s Story

I came to America ten years ago at age 18 after I met an American man through a marriage agency in my country. It was very scary to come here because I was away from my family for the first time. Some call me a “mail order bride” but I do not like to be called that. I really wanted to be married to my husband and didn’t marry him just to become an American. We married two months after I moved here and then he became very insulting of me. He did not like my weight, my complexion, or my clothes. To please him I started taking Accutane for my skin, but it causes very serious birth defects, and there are warnings all over its special pill package. I was even required to take the birth control pill and take monthly pregnancy tests with it. The high dose in the meantime made me sick, so I switched to a lower dose. My husband started hitting me. He didn’t like my cooking, he didn’t like that I couldn’t work yet because my “green card” was not in, he didn’t like my being on the birth control pills because they made me gain a little weight. I thought about leaving, but did not know what to do. I didn’t want to go back to my country, because my old village does not believe in divorce. I would not have been welcome anymore. I didn’t have friends in America yet. I was very scared. As mentioned, I could not even get a job here so what would I do? I could not afford a plane ticket.

When I went in to the doctor’s to get tested for pregnancy, the nurse noticed a bruise on my arm. She gave me information about a shelter for women. I called the shelter from a pay phone because I was so scared my husband would come home when I was talking to them. They told me I could go an emergency room and they would pick me up. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. Two nights later, when I tried to turn up the heater, my husband pushed my head in the wall. I was dizzy but I ran out of the house and walked in my socks about 7 miles to a hospital in 35-degree weather without a coat. Some nice people from the shelter took me to the women’s shelter.

A few days later, I called the doctor’s office to thank the nurse for telling me about the shelter and to get more medication. The nurse told me I was pregnant. I don’t know why they hadn’t called me in the 2 days before I left my husband’s home. I was upset. She told me that when I’d switched birth control pills I should have waited a week with the new pills before having sex. She also said the dose might have been too low. She hadn’t told me that when I got the pills changed. I was so frightened. Here I was at 18, not able to work in America, alone in America, pregnant in America! I knew I couldn’t give birth. The baby would probably be handicapped, just like the package warned me. I didn’t want a reminder of the husband who abused me. I didn’t want to be even more cut off from my family than I would be by being divorced.

I got an abortion, and I don’t regret it. I was lucky that my husband’s insurance paid for it because of the birth defects that might have been present. That was right before he filled out a waiver to have me taken off his insurance before we were even divorced. It would have been wrong to have a handicapped baby born to a single mother who couldn’t even work. Handicapped babies don’t have homes if they are put up for adoption.

My life really improved after the abortion. The shelter helped me get a green card and I went to school. I work full-time. I’m getting married next summer. I now help other immigrant women at the same shelter for women since I speak other languages. Some are pregnant and don’t even know abortion is legal here. Some hug me when I tell them they can end their pregnancies. I became an American officially last year and I am glad to be in such a country that has shelters for women. I don’t think my old country had shelters for that. I think I was always an American in my heart. America respects women more than other countries but it still has a way to go. If we got rid of abortion, we’d be like the countries some Americans don’t like.