How Having an Abortion Made me Realize my Privilege
Political AF and in defense of unfucking abortion in our country
I have always been pro-life, however it was not until a recent unexpected pregnancy, and my own personal experience with an abortion, that I truly understood the value of choice, and the privilege required for our current women’s health system to work.
For starters, I value human life, and I 100% never thought I would experience this in my lifetime. We were using birth control, but statistically beat the odds — especially interesting since I am in my late 30s and the father is in his early 40s. While I in no way regret my decision — it was the least selfish, kindest, greater good decision — it is not an easy experience and it is one that has changed my life. I loved that baby and I do love the man I made it with. I wanted that baby, but we could not find a viable way to give it a good life, and the collateral damage to other lives was too great to justify giving birth. Without going into too many details, the father and I don’t live in the same state. We both have children in other states, preventing us from co-habitating any time soon. We both know what it is like to grow up without both biological parents in the house and we didn’t want to do that to another human. There are many other complications that affirmed our decision, but they are neither here nor there.
Prior to this, I had no exposure to Planned Parenthood beyond political conversation, nor did I have any real knowledge of the abortion options out there. As far as I know, I do not know anyone who has had one — but it is a little discussed open topic. Statistically speaking I do know someone, since four in ten women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
The process not only fueled my passion that pro-choice is a human rights issue, but it reaffirmed my status of privilege in this country. I am already aware and grateful for this, as I grew up below poverty level, but there is no replacing experience in realizing privilege and it’s necessary sidekick — injustice.
Because I was only 6 weeks pregnant, I could opt for the “medication” abortion — a series of two pills that terminates the pregnancy for anyone under 10 weeks along — so time is of the essence. My insurance (point of privilege #1) did not cover this procedure. It cost $600. The father was able to wire me the cash within a few days. We are both educated, white-collar people with six-figure salaries. This was in no way difficult for us to obtain. (Point of privilege #2). Even had he not had the cash, or gotten it in time, I have several friends whom I could have easily borrowed from — point of privilege 3 — my social circle is affluent.
The procedure requires two in-person appointments. Thankfully, I live in a pro-choice state so there were multiple Planned Parenthood locations nearby (privilege 4). The first is to educate you about the process, test and verify the pregnancy, identify a birth control method going forward and lastly, take the first pill. Because I have a career where I set not only my own schedule but also my location of work, I did this during a weekday and I had one of my colleagues and good friend come with me (point of privilege 5). The workplace flexibility my career affords me also allowed me to experience the procedure in my pajamas, in the comfort of my own home, where I could sob, sleep, work remotely and lose the baby in the most comfortable way possible (same privilege, used twice over).
The second appointment is a follow up to ensure the procedure was completed successfully, address any continuing symptoms and answer any follow up questions. Again, I was able to schedule this for a weekday morning (privilege 5 x3). Both of thee appointments were easy for me to get to, since I own a reliable car (privilege 6). Should I need emotional support as well, I have insurance that covers mental health services (privilege 6) although Planned Parenthood also provides a free 24-hour hotline.
So that was my experience, and I am clearly set up in life to handle something like this with logistical ease. I am eternally grateful that within two weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I was able to take the steps that were in the best interest of me, the baby, the father, and the others in our life that we love. It made me realize the true value of options and why we must support legislation that makes an already difficult decision less painful and more of an attainable option.
This reflection also got me thinking about teenagers, and working mothers, and single mothers, and women of various life stages and economic means who already may not be able to, due to their circumstances, engage in the power of choice. People in states with no option nearby need to secure transportation and time off — both difficult if you are living check to check. And if you are a single working mother, you need those things plus childcare. And if you were/are a victim of domestic violence then you need to do all of this secretly. And then there’s the $600, which if you cannot afford that, then having a child is clearly an unwise choice.
Btw, the fact that I can even sit and pontificate this is privilege #7.
I am trying to figure out the underlying fear behind those who are trying to make abortion illegal or at the very least nearly unattainable.
Is it a concern that abortions will become the new birth control? Because it’s such a pain in the ass to do, expensive and so emotionally traumatic that it seems low probability. With a medical abortion, besides the discomfort of the procedure for the initial 24–48 hours, a woman may experience bleeding for up to a month afterwards. Not a viable birth control option.
My mother was 17 when I was born, and while she did okay, there has been much therapy to solve for her lack of parental maturity and its impact on my life — and even though we were beyond poor, there were no drugs or abuse in my household. Not everyone is so lucky.
Here is what I am afraid of — people raising children who don’t want them and/or who know they aren’t in a position to care for them. I don’t want any woman having to carry and raise a baby that was born out of abusive circumstances. Those children will not do well in this world, and that will cause them to engage with society in ways that reflect the lack of love, safety, and support that all children need to thrive. This is how jail cells are filled and how young girls find themselves in unplanned pregnancies in the first place. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.
And we have the power to grant people — not just women — the freedom to choose whether or not they can support a child and are ready for the toughest job in the world — raising a well-rounded human. It is within our collective hands to allow people to make a choice, and make it accessible, that is right for themselves and the greater good — and sometimes that is letting go of a pregnancy.
I am grieving for the child I wish we could have had, longing for the life I wish we could have given it, and I don’t anticipate that will ever go away, though it may soften over time. Simultaneously, though the choice was hard, it was the right one and I have not regretted it once. I am convinced now more than ever that it is a personal freedom that should not be decided for anyone, since the true right answer lies with the people who created the life in the first place. No one else could have known the right answer for me, for him, for my current children or his, or for that baby. There was never a more loving decision made.
I only hope that we, as a nation, can see that allowing people access to choice does not mean they will all make the same one, and that it is the most loving, kind thing to provide a child with not just a life, but a good quality one.