Zanni’s Story

I had an abortion at Planned Parenthood in my college town at age 20. When I became sexually active at college, I sat down with myself to make the decision about what I would do if I ever had an accidental pregnancy. Having a history of emotional problems, I knew that I’d darn well better make a true decision when I was in my right mind, rather than when I might be in crisis if I had an accidental pregnancy. I decided very clearheadedly that if I ended up pregnant, I would have an abortion. I was too young and too immature to have a child, and I had specific goals for my future. I knew myself well enough to know without a doubt that I was too emotionally unstable to go through pregnancy and give a child up for adoption. I was not interested in ever having children, and if I did, it would be much later in life when I would hopefully be of a stable professional life, marriage/partnership, and mind.

I was having a somewhat self-destructive relationship with a person I did not like. I was uncharacteristically careless in terms of birth control. Then I had a few days of…nausea. Tender nipples. Uh oh. So I got on my bike and headed over to the student health center with a clean Tupperware of my urine for a pregnancy test, which was positive. I got back on my trusty bike and up the street to Planned Parenthood, where I made an appointment for an abortion. Thank god for a nonjudgmental environment! My pregnancy was so early that they could not do the procedure for another week, so I had to wait. The cost was something like $325. I went to see the guy who I had been sleeping with, as I felt that it was absolutely fair for him to pay half of the cost. Once he heard that I was pregnant, he refused to even talk to me, which really pissed me off, and I ended up getting the money out of him by threatening to tell his parents. I do not regret this at all—I strongly believe that it was fair for him to pay half. I wasn’t careless by myself—it certainly took two!

The week of waiting was tough, as I was very firm in my decision, and it was really difficult having to wait to carry it out and have everything over with. It made me depressed that I had gotten myself in this situation through real carelessness. The whole situation was stressful and I was full of anxiety—but because I knew I could obtain a safe abortion, I was able to have hope for my future regardless of the whims of chance and biology. I told my housemates and close friends what was going on, and a friend went with me and held my hand, along with the Planned Parenthood nurse, while I had the abortion. I went back to the house that I shared with friends, and, now that I had held it all together enough to completely and firmly deal with the crisis, I lost it. Reality of what could have happened to me—the end of my life, my dreams—kicked in. Without the choice to have control over my own body and my own destiny, I would most likely have committed suicide. My housemates got together their money to buy me a plane ticket home, and I called the dean of my college and told her without shame that I had had an abortion and needed to go home for a while and that she needed to tell my professors that I would be taking a temporary “incomplete” in my courses as I would be missing the final exams, which were a week away. I called my parents, without telling them what had happened, and told them that I needed to come home. Poor, dear folks didn’t know what was going on-I told them after I got home. That scene is a separate story in itself which involved me learning for the first time that my mom, as a teen, had ended up being taken by her mother to Cuba in the late 1950s in order to get a safe abortion there.

I believe in abortion for all women on demand and without apology. I was very fortunate to be a very strong-willed, well-educated young woman, with easy access to a Planned Parenthood and a supportive environment. I countered any shameful feelings I had about getting pregnant and needing to get an abortion by letting lots of people around me know what was going on. No secrets for me; I made sure lots of people knew.

It is now 17 years later (!). I have been married to my incredible, dear, supportive husband for 15 years. I have fulfilled my life’s big dreams: of being truly loved non-judgmentally, of becoming a veterinarian, of working for years now in a large public health agency that works to improve the lives and health of people around the world, of being a published scientist, of keeping my chronic mental illness under control, of having traveled all over the world, of living somewhere beautiful that I love, and after many years, of deciding with my spouse to have a child—a beautiful, wonderful, beloved boy who is now one year old. He has a Planned Parenthood T-shirt that says “Every child a wanted child”.

None of this would have come to pass if I had not been able to have a safe, legal abortion when I was twenty years old.