Editor’s Note: I published this powerful piece from an anonymous reader yesterday on my blog, Approximately 8,000 Words and asked her permission to reprint it here on MyFDL. I am honored that she agreed to share it with this community. -Kit
This is my story of getting an abortion in Texas, of my rights being exercised. Even with the laws in place to convince me otherwise, I still made the right decision no matter how much it hurt. I believe I have the right to go through this painful experience without paternalistic intervention “for my own good” as I am solely responsible for myself and my body.
When I became unintentionally pregnant (40% of pregnancies in the US are unintentional), I wanted to keep the pregnancy but I am unemployed. The cost of raising a child to adulthood is over $220,000. I have two wonderful children already that would suffer if I brought another child into their lives. I would damn myself, and my offspring, to poverty and worse.
I had my pregnancy confirmed at Planned Parenthood. They told me that I was 6 weeks along, within the window for non-surgical abortions. For every conservative attack on Planned Parenthood as “promoting abortion,” my experience was that they assumed I would keep the fetus. They provided information and documentation so I could get assistance and didn’t mention terminating the pregnancy, at all.
I spent the two weeks prior to confirming the pregnancy looking at my life. I journaled about what I wanted and spoke to my closest family and friends about my pregnancy. I spoke to people who had made both life choices, who had been in my position and I listened to their experiences. One friend said, “You need to figure out what you want and then figure out how you’re going to make that happen. I love you and will support you, in whatever you decide.”
I knew what I wanted. I took two weeks to attempt to figure out how to make that happen. I couldn’t come up with a way that wasn’t detrimental to my current family, the potential child and myself, in that order, and there are physical and legal deadlines to making this decision to keep a child or have an abortion. So, I sat in the car with the father, as we got snacks after getting the pregnancy confirmed; and told him my decision. I wasn’t going to go through with the pregnancy. I value life and my focus was on the lives that would be impacted by addition of another child.
I called Planned Parenthood to schedule the procedure but they couldn’t offer me an appointment until after it would be possible to do a medical abortion versus a surgical abortion, because of the law in Texas mandating a twenty-four hour waiting period between a sonogram being performed and the medication or surgery being administered. I passed this information along to my partner, who was incensed and insisted that we go to a private clinic and talk to them. We drove over and they were able to see me that day for the ultrasound.
From talking to friends, as well as my own personal experience, no woman decides to have a medical procedure like this lightly. I agonized over how I could keep the child and realized that there was no way that wouldn’t harm people I cared about, including the child. Twenty-four hours didn’t change my mind and evidence suggests that it hasn’t changed anyone’s mind. When I found out that Planned Parenthood couldn’t get me in, in time; I felt hijacked into a riskier and more emotionally-charged abortion. I felt paternalized by the state. I was anxious. Luckily, all through this process, I was supported by the father; who attended every visit with me and was present for the process.