Shannon’s Story

I had an abortion nearly fifteen years ago when I was a sophomore in college and involved in a relationship with an alcoholic, verbally and physically abusive boyfriend. Since the abortion, I’ve told my story only once, to the man I eventually married and with whom I now share a life and three beautiful daughters. Telling my story on this website is my first tiny step onto the road of individual activism. I’ve lived in silence for too long.

I grew up in a deeply committed Christian home. My parents communicated very clearly to me their expectation that I would not engage in sex before marriage. In a teenaged effort to separate myself from them, I made a calculated, conscious decision be sexually active. I went about it in what I considered at the time a very adult manner-I began taking the pill and keeping track of my cycle. I saw myself as the embodiment of the new, modern woman, ready to take on the world. I was armed with knowledge and preparation and thought I could always control my destiny.

Then, I went off to college and, within a matter of weeks, had allowed myself to get sucked into a very unhealthy relationship. After two years of hiding my boyfriend’s alcoholic binges, angry tirades, and insane jealousy from my family and sorority sisters, and just I was begining to recognize the pinches, small slaps and hair pulling as physical abuse, I discovered I was pregnant. Although I was still in denial about the absolute insanity of continuing in the relationship with my boyfriend, I somehow recognized that I absolutely could not bring a baby into the hell that was my life. I knew my parents loved me and would have supported me had I chosen to go ahead and have the baby (they are wonderful people who truly rely on God to make the best of any situation), but I was determined to be an adult and fix the problem I had created in my life. My boyfriend agreed to drive me to another college town that had a clinic and to pay for half of the abortion. I don’t remember how much it cost but I do remember I had to borrow money at the last minute from a friend to pay my boyfriend’s half.

My memory of the abortion itself is a blur of unrelated details-the teal, diamond patterned chairs in the waiting room; the soft, accented voice of the anesthesiologist as he said, “You’ll be feeling very sleepy in just a moment”; my shame at my tears of relief after it was over and my deeper shame when I called out my boyfriend’s name. Mostly, I just remember it as the beginning of the end of a very dark period in my life. Just a few months after the abortion, I ended the relationship with my boyfriend and began learning how to really be an adult.

I am deeply grateful I had the right to choose. I am profoundly moved by those who fight to keep women, not government, in charge of their own bodies and lives. I am gut-wrenchingly scared that if I continue to stay silent about my abortion, my daughters will not have the same freedom of choice I did. I live a life today that is happy and productive and has even come full circle to embrace much of the spirituality with which I was raised. The community of people in which my husband and I have chosen to live and work and worship, and with whom I share so many other values, will undoubtedly call me a murderer for my choice. I will undoubtedly lose friends and damage relationships when I speak about my choice and especially the fact that I am not sorry I made it. One day soon, with God helping me, I will be strong enough to speak bravely about it to anyone, but for now, I tell you, hoping that in some way this is the beginning of the end of my silence.