Coming out: I had an abortion
If you are anti-choice, leave now.
If you “don't believe” in abortion, then you'll dislike this blog.
If you're willing to listen to someone's experience, then sit down and open your mind.
Any abusive, nasty or mean comments will not be posted. This blog is a safe-space, and no one will be abused.
This blog post is probably going to be the most difficult one I've ever written. Not for the reasons you might expect, however. I'll have to explain as I go along, I think, being that this topic is often so fraught with the explosive landmine of “societal projection”. I am not going to defend myself, as I don't believe I've done anything wrong. I'm not going to seek your approval, I'm not writing this to change any minds-- because I don't know if I can.
I'm writing this, coming out like this, because we don't have a face. I am going to join the Women on Web and show my face. I'm writing this to share my experience, to put an “I” to the woman out there who can't. Frankly, I'm terrified as I sit here, writing this, but if you decide to walk away from me because of it, if this blog changes your opinion of me to that degree, then we weren't really friendly in the first place. Being judged is frightening, but I decided to put myself out there, in that spotlight. I'm pretty sure I can handle it.
I have had an abortion. I am one of the “three in ten” woman who will have had an abortion by the time she's 45. (fourth bullet).
That means if you know ten women, it's likely three of them have chosen to terminate a pregnancy. That means there's a decent chance, that if you're female and reading this, you will have had, or will choose to have, an abortion. It means that we women are out there, we just don't tell you.
Why don't we own up to it, you might ask. Well, do you go around telling everyone about your root canals, or veneers? Do you tell your co-workers every time you go to the doctors and have a tooth pulled? Do you “own up” to your every single medical procedure? Did you announce “I'm getting an IUD implanted next Tuesday at 2pm. Refreshments to follow.”
That's the problem, usually, with admitting a termination. We're treated like little kids, like we didn't think about it, or know what we were doing. Like we have to ask permission of society in order to live our lives. Pregnancy, childbirth, childrearing and parenting aren't societal decisions-- even if the majority of people calling themselves pro-life think it is. Neither is terminating a pregnancy, for any reason. It's private, personal, and not something I needed to ask you about.
I don't have to ask you if I want to pull out all my teeth and get silver implants, right? [yeah, I know, what a tacky thought.]
I don't have to ask permission to go on the pill-- nor do I want a play-by-play of your vasectomy.
I don't have to ask you, if you're OK with me not being pregnant. You don't count in my decision making-- and you Shouldn't! I shouldn't have any input into your own medical needs, either.
The reasons for getting an abortion are manifold. My own reasons were so many I don't know if I can list them all. The following reasons aren't just mine, but they are a good cross-section of the many reasons women choose not to be pregnant, not to give birth. I am not setting out to make my case to you, so I choose not to tell you which ones are mine. I am speaking as Woman-Whole-In-Herself, therefore I will use I.
I had children, living children, and needed to make sure I could care for them.
If I had a child I would lose my job or my home.
I was trying to finish school, so that I could afford to feed myself, and make a home.
If I gave birth my parents would throw me out.
I was trying to escape an abusive relationship, and know that if I was pregnant I wouldn't be able to run away as completely [i.e. custody].
I was not comfortable, nor capable of raising a child conceived by rape.
I couldn't physically handle a pregnancy-- or perhaps another pregnancy.
I would die.
I was on medication to save my own life, for depression, OCD, my heart, my diabetes, my kidneys, my schizophrenia, and that medication is known to cause birth defects.
I know I couldn't care for a child with the medical problems that showed up on the ultrasound and in the tests.
My birth control failed. [even with “perfect use” contraception can fail]
Plan B/Emergency birth control didn't work. [only works about 87% of the time, when taken as directed.]
I am too old/too young to deliver safely.
I never wanted to be a mother, and took every precaution, and yet got pregnant anyway.
I simply know that I cannot have a/another child.
Most of those reasons are accepted, mostly, by society. It's a list of “mostly OK, in some circumstances”. The last two, they aren't often accepted at all... those are the two “you're such a selfish slut” reasons, and the two that we have to justify the most.
Those two are just as important, and relevant, if not more so, than the rest. Why force a women who simply cannot be a mother to have a child? Sex isn't dirty, and pregnancy isn't punishment.
At least it shouldn't be. But for most right-wingers, it is. We're not capable of choosing to terminate a pregnancy, but we're expected to be able to handle parenting? You can see the hypocrisy there quite vividly when you look at the states that have parental consent laws; a young woman can choose to give birth if she's under 18-- but she needs her parents' permission to choose not to. Where's the logic in that? I'd think you should have to be 18 or older to choose to give birth without permission from your parents. That is much more sensible. But no, here in the US a baby can have a baby-- even if her parents don't want her to; but she can't choose not to.
I chose to terminate a pregnancy for my own reasons; not the least of which was my own children's welfare. Me choosing to have an abortion was the greatest act of motherly love I could have done; I knew if I had more children I wouldn't be able to care for the ones I have. I knew my kids would suffer if I had another one... and that's not even taking into account what another pregnancy and labour would do to me. I knew I couldn't feed, clothe or perhaps even keep a roof over the heads of my children if I had more.
I can't physically handle another pregnancy. Cannot handle it. My body won't allow it. My blood pressure would bottom out, my bone would soften dangerously, I'd be unable to eat from the nausea, and my anaemia would probably call for blood transfusions. And that's just the first trimester. Not every woman can handle being pregnant. It's a dangerous time for us, physically and mentally.
I labour fairly easily, but then afterwards, I get post-partum depression. I end up so depressed and wracked with migraines that I can't get out of bed. I can't see, I can't eat and I surely can't care for an infant. It took everything I had to mother my two youngest while I was going through that hell. I can't do that again-- I'd rather die. Well, I shouldn't put it that way, I probably would die.
Of course there's the “give it up for adoption” camp. But you all can blow it out your asses. Anyone who thinking pregnancy and labour are just something you do for fun needs a lobotomy-- that way we don't have to hear you talking any more. Not everyone can place an infant they carried for adoption. Some of us can't carry it, to begin with. We simply can't, and there's no amount of “well, did you think of that” that will change our bodies.
The decision didn't take long; if I'm honest, I think I'd made it before I actually took the pregnancy test. I knew that I couldn't handle another pregnancy, and that I did not want more children.
That didn't necessarily make the decision as simple as it sounds. Choosing to have an abortion isn't like choosing your pizza toppings, but it's also not as complex and complicated as choosing whether or not to donate a kidney and possibly die. It's in between, usually, and that's what makes it hard for people to understand.
I called and made an appointment. I had to deal with a waiting period (24 hours) because the GOP thinks women go down to the doctor's office once a month for a uterus scrape, for fun, and want us to think about what we're doing! It's like being put in time out, and it's just as ridiculous.
I walked in, filled out my paperwork and waited. Soon, a nurse called me back, took my vitals and tested me for anaemia with that weird little pin-prick, stick the tube into the plastic thing to seal it up, test. I hate those spring-loaded pricking needles. I always jump! Then I had to pee in a cup.
I was parked in a little exam room. I had to take off my jeans and underpants for the ultrasound. Yes, a vaginal ultrasound. They're pretty fucking horrible. Soon an ultrasound tech came in and we got it started. Did I want to see the embryonic sack? [No, I know what they look like.] She was so sorry, she knows they're uncomfortable! Almost done, click click went the machine and it was over. I hate those things, they hurt!
She helped me sit up, and I got my clothes on. Then I talked to the counsellor.
Oh My Gods! Yes! I spoke to someone who counselled me!
She asked how I was feeling, did I need any crackers, or water? Was I being pressured to abort? Did I know that the state would force the man to pay child support? Was I in an abusive relationship? Did I need help escaping to a shelter? Did I need information about adoption agencies? The clinic would be more than happy to switch the appointment from a medical abortion to a first prenatal appointment, if I so chose.
Then she asked why I was choosing abortion. Was it something I was choosing for myself, or something I was being forced to choose. So I told her, “I need to be able to care for my kids, and I can't handle another one.”
She talked with me more, was I comfortable with this choice? Did I need more time?
Finally she signed off and I went to yet another little waiting room. The doctor called me back and talked to me. The doctor repeated most of the legal stuff the counsellor told me, and explained the risks of giving birth versus an abortion [it's much more dangerous to give birth]. The doctor also explained that some people believed abortions caused depression and could cause breast cancer. “The depression link is unverified. We don't know for certain, but it appears from the data we do have that women who have an abortion do not have any greater risk of depression than someone who carries to term. In fact, it might be smaller, given the number of women who have post-partum depression. Also, there is absolutely no link between breast cancer and abortion. It's false, a lie, and honestly it bothers me that women are being lied to like that.”
The doctor asked me did I have any questions, and then told me what to do [repeating everything the counsellor had said]. “Take this pill right here. Tomorrow, in 24 hours, take your anti-nausea meds. Then, you'll take these four, place them between your cheeks and gums and let them melt. Then after half an hour swallow the pill remainders with a big glass of water.” The doctor placed the bottles in a little bag and went on, “Take one of your anti-biotics tonight, and then twice a day until they're gone. The cramping and bleeding will start within a couple hours. There will be clots, some of them kinda large. If you bleed through two pads an hour for more than two hours, you call us, or go straight to the emergency room.
The doctor explained that the anti-biotic was to protect me from infection, as my body would dilate and my cervix would open. This can be like a neon sign for infection. “And absolutely nothing in your vagina for two weeks! When you come back and see us, then we'll make sure you're clear for sex. Not until then. No dildos, no fingers, no tampons, and absolutely no penises!” Then the doctor winked at me and said, “We want to make sure you're OK before you have sexual intercourse again. It is possible to ovulate within two weeks of an abortion or miscarriage, and therefore you could get pregnant between now and then if you have unprotected sex. There's also an increased chance of infections. So just don't do it.”
Taking a small foil backed pill pack out, the doctor handed it to me with a small glass of water and a pack of Saltine crackers. “Here, munch the crackers really quick, and then take this pill; this will stop the pregnancy. It's the miffy. If you're ready, that it.” [Mifepristone]
I was, so I took it. Then I went about the rest of my day. I was a little nauseated, but I think it's because I was hungry, rather than the medication. I made my appointment for two weeks, got my script for my birth control pills, and headed to the pharmacy to fill them. I had to start them in a week and half (on that week from Sunday) I went and got some lunch. Then I went home.
The next day, I did exactly what they told me. The second medication, misoprostol, is shaped kinda like a children's Tylenol, and tastes sweet, like a melt-able Claratin. I took my anti-nausea pill, made sure my pads were close to the toilet and waited.
The cramps weren't like normal period cramps, they were worse. I took my Tylenol and Midol like they told me (I had a script for vicodin, but I hate taking the stuff. It makes me all weird and loopy). I went in, two weeks later and had yet another vaginal ultrasound. Everything was fine, the uterine lining had shed properly, and I wasn't pregnant.
About that second visit. It's the same if you have a miscarriage, having a medical abortion. The medication makes your body act in the exact same way as if you self-abort. During a normal miscarriage, the doctor will monitor you to make sure your body sheds the lining of the uterus properly, otherwise you will need a D&C to prevent infection (this is called a missed abortion, often, or incomplete abortion even if the embryonic sack is no longer present). The doctor will do the same thing if you have a medical abortion-- make sure everything is back to your normal, non-pregnant state. Otherwise you'll have to have a D&C to protect your health.
Never one time did I regret. I regretted that after all the precautions, everything I'd done I hadn't been able to prevent it. I didn't regret the abortion. I still don't. I didn't feel guilt when I took the pill. I felt relief. From the moment I had my appointment time I was relieved. I knew, without any doubt, I was making the right decision. I didn't feel depressed. I didn't feel sad.
I felt relief! It was like a burden weighing a million tonnes was lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again, like I wasn't suffocating any more. I was almost giddy with relief. It sounds surreal, I'm sure. It was like getting back those test results that will tell you if you've got cancer or not-- and learning that your life is safe! I felt like my life was mine again, that I was safe.
Of course, I'm not supposed to feel that way. I'm supposed to be sad, depressed, regretful, so guilt-ridden that I want to now take every other woman's choice away. I have to be punished, you see, and by “I” I mean everyone else... that's what the right-wing anti-choicers would say-- or at least think, they don't always own up to that.
But I don't. I still don't regret. I feel regret that I was in that situation; that everything I did to prevent it ended in my super-fertile body saying, “Oh, yeah, fuck you anyway, thanks!” But I don't regret the abortion.
I used to feel guilty, for not feeling guilty. Then I thought that was pretty stupid. I was being down on myself for making the best decision I could, and not being down on myself?! Talk about slut shaming!
I still don't talk about it, though. I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I've told. Although I'm not ashamed, and I don't feel the need to beg forgiveness, there's a societal oppression that says I should be. It says I should be silent, that only bad people have abortions, and that if I'm not a bad girl, I should be damned near catatonic with my guilt and depression. Because I'm not, because I'm militantly pro-abortion, I never did explain.
See, this blog isn't an apology. This blog isn't me begging you, nebulous reader, to forgive me. This blog isn't a way of asking some god to have mercy on this sin I committed. It was no sin, and I don't need forgiveness.
This blog was my way of coming out, coming out as One of Them! I am a woman who chose to terminate a pregnancy. I did it for my own reasons, and I did not ask your permission. Neither do I ask our forgiveness now. I'm not sorry. I can't be. I didn't do anything wrong.
If you disagree, that's fine. I don't really care. I ask only that you really think about why you disagree. Are you mad that I'm not guilt-ridden? Did I offend your sensibilities by not being a good girl? Is the reason you're disagreeing religious or something else?
Explore it. If it boils down to your personal discomfort with abortion, then why are you mad at me? I don't get mad at you for doing things you are comfortable with and I promise you, no one will force anyone to have an abortion in the US. We don't do that. In fact, we don't do that in most countries. Often it's harder to get a wanted abortion. [I've heard rumours and accusations that India and China have forced abortions. I don't have any proof. Therefore I can't say either way. It does seem like an awful lot of race baiting, though, as the people who scream about this tend to be your ultra-rightwingers]
I had an abortion. I went through a waiting period, state mandated counselling by two people [that's the adoption, we can force the father to pay part of the speech]; I went through counselling to make sure I was ready; I suffered through a vaginal ultrasound-- yes, suffered. If you haven't had one, be thankful!
Yes, I did, I had an abortion. And if need be, I'd do it again. I am a living, breathing person. I have rights, and I have a life. I am more important, infinitely more precious than the potentiality of a person.
So is every woman and girl out there.
Note: You'll notice a mish-mash of present and past tense. I deliberately obscured the past and present, the timing of when I had the abortion. I did this because 1- it's no one's business, and 2- right now somewhere a woman is going through it right now. It's my past, but her present.