So the editorial that sent me sky-high at 7:00 am this morning is here.
Th entire thing was infuriating, particularly this passage:
“However, when the pro-choice community frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning “informed consent” laws. It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it.
Often, abortion isn’t a difficult decision. In my case, it sure wasn’t.
When I was 18, my boyfriend, whom I was with for more than a year, frequently pressured me into having sex. At the time, I lacked the maturity and experience to exert more control over the situation. For more than 10 weeks, I progressed from obliviousness about my pregnancy to denial to wishful thinking: Maybe if I ignore that I missed two periods, that pesky little fact will go away.
Once I faced reality, though, having an abortion was an obvious decision, not a difficult one. The question wasn’t “Should I or shouldn’t I?” but “How quickly can I get this over with?”
This was in the mid-1980s, when abortion was about women having control not just over their bodies but over their destinies. An unwanted pregnancy would have derailed my future, making it difficult for me to finish college and have the independent, productive life that I’d envisioned.”
Let me tell you my experience.
I was in my late twenties and, having botched my life up, I was working secretarial temp jobs. (Which means I had no medical insurance and was living hand to mouth.) I got pregnant. I caught it within the first six weeks since I was not so stupid I ignored a missed menstruation. I was also throwing up. A lot. (I did not have morning sickness. I had morning, lunch, tea time, dinner and evening sickness.) My boyfriend at the time said he did not want it, but would “help out” if I decided to keep it.
Of course my first reaction was fear. I had never particularly wanted a child and it would change my entire life. The attempt I was making to get it back on track would be severely curtailed.
My second reaction was Wow, I have a little person growing inside me. How weird.
So I looked at my situation. I did not have a steady job that gave me health insurance or maternity leave. (The U.S. has by far and away the highest medical costs in the world, yet our healthcare isn’t even that great). Just having birth in a hospital averages $38,000 dollars now, and then it was still more than I made in a year even if I got constant temp work. And then there was prenatal care, and post natal care, and pediatricians and clothing, food, where was I going to find the money? I had to go back to work to at least keep a roof over our heads, but when I priced out childcare I found it cost at least as much as or more than as the rent of my crappy little studio, which I was already struggling to keep up with. I would have to become a welfare mother just to keep it until she/he was old enough to go to school. And then what would my employment prospects be when my resume read “retail, clerking, temp jobs for two years then nothing for five years?”
My parents told me straight up, “We are not helping raise that man’s child.” Why? Because my BF was a flake of the highest order that had repeatedly made me cry. He couldn’t even be counted on to keep a date, let alone be counted on to assist with a child. ( He was sexy and cool and impressive and in the end, he turned out he was a pathological liar, or damn near it. But because I was in LURVE, I ignored all the red flags around me that everyone else saw.)
I would not receive any assistance from that quarter, nor did I have a right to ask it. They already raised four kids. What right had I to ask them to help raise one they had no responsibility in making? Especially when my parents were themselves struggling.
Then there were my own personal issues. I had not been diagnosed bi-polar II yet, but I knew I was not emotionally stable. I looked at my depression and withdrawals, my outbursts of hysteria and rage. I also knew that being on birth control pills (which mimic the hormonal effect of pregnancy) turned me into a screaming bitch. (Effective birth control, but not much fun for anyone.) I also knew that Mom had gone through severe postpartum depression. I was not Mom material, and would very likely put this child through hell, and having grown up a household for which the term “dysfunctional” was woefully inadequate, I did not want to inflict on it what had been inflicted on me.
Adoption? Again, where was I going to get the money just to have the kid? And knowing my emotional issues, I didn’t know if I could go through something like that.
Yet here was this tiny person. A little unique “her” (I was convinced it was a “her”) that if I decided to terminate, I would never get to know. And I knew I might never have this chance again, never be pregnant again.
I did not find it an easy decision at all. It was my every waking thought as I struggled just to focus enough to get though my day over a week. I debated and cried and second guessed and agonized until I could not, in good conscience, push the envelope of time and development any further.
I had an abortion.
Do I still occasionally wonder who that person was? Yes.
Do I still think I made the best decision for both of us? Yes.
It is a decision I would not put my worst enemy through, but I am glad I could make it.
This op-ed piece paints women who get abortions as feckless children who walk into a clinic for an abortion every time they forgot to take their birth cnotrol pills or make their partner wear a condom. Or in the conservative view, had sex. But while that may have been the case for the writer, I can attest that it was not the case for most of the women who have faced this choice.
Instead of strengthening the public view of women, she disminishes us by protraying women as incapable to handling serious, potentially life-altering decisions with reason and maturity on our own.
This piece makes the conservative, pro-life argument for them, which I wonder if it was the writer’s purpose all along.
As for my boyfriend-at-the-time? He did not offer to help pay for the abortion or even accompany me when I did it.
The red flags suddenly became visible and I headed for the hills as my days of desiring “bad boys” were over.