My Abortion Story: Why Texas Legislators Need to Stop Playing Politics with Women’s Lives
Seven years ago, when I was nineteen years old, I had an abortion. Very few people in my life know this, including my sister whom I am very close with. Contrary to the stereotypical unplanned pregnancy story, I was using protection. I had an IUD that became partially dislodged and before I realized it I became pregnant. An IUD is small plastic contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus and prevents ovulation. To give you an idea of how rare IUD failures are, Planned Parenthood estimates they only become dislodged in about 3% of women who use them. I was a sophomore in college with a part time on-campus job that paid eight dollars an hour and my boyfriend at the time was unemployed and going nowhere fast. I knew that choosing to have a baby would mean dropping out of school, moving back into my parents house, and struggling to make ends meet for at least the next eighteen years. I wasn’t ready, and I knew it.
Still, it wasn’t an easy choice. As I walked into the clinic that day, I felt twinges of guilt: What if I had been aborted? What could this life grow into? What if this baby will bring me joy? That is what pisses me off the most about the current abortion debate. These conservative politicians truly believe that women who chose to have abortions haven’t thought their choice through before they get to the clinic. That we need to be counseled, have waiting periods, and be “educated” on what this decision means. Really? I can guarantee you any woman who has had an abortion spent many restless nights thinking and thinking and thinking. And still after all that thought, in the face of a culture of shame and silence, in defiance of a political structure that bends over backwards to discourage abortion, thousands of women choose to go through with it every year.
I’ve always wondered why it is that any person can choose to bring life into this world without question, but when someone wants to make the opposite choice in the acknowledgement they are not capable of being a responsible parent, they are shamed and called a murderer. The harder choice in my mind is honestly admitting that this pregnancy wasn’t planned and you can’t provide the best life for your child at this point in time. Parenthood is a lifelong commitment and should not be taken lightly or chosen because of societal pressure.
Many of us live with the secret of our abortions for the rest of our lives, and are made to feel that we have committed a mortal sin in extinguishing an unborn life. Well, the reality is that bringing life into this world is a sacrifice born solely by women. It’s our bodies that are hijacked for nine months, it’s our health and lives that are risked during pregnancy, and we bear the brunt of cultural shame for getting unintentionally pregnant even though it takes two to tango. A man can literally walk away at any time from an unplanned pregnancy and continue living normally. For a woman, no matter what her choice, she is screwed. If she has the baby, her body and her future are burdened with caring for that life. If she has an abortion, she enters the ranks of soulless women who kill their unborn children out of a selfish desire to not have their lives entirely derailed by one sexual encounter.
Ultimately, a woman’s reproductive choices should be entirely her own because there is no way any politician or pro-life activist can possibly account for all factors playing into each woman’s choice. You have no idea what her relationship is like or if she even has one, what her financial situation is, her health status, what her life goals are, her history or her present situation. In short, you don’t know shit about the people you are trying to force parenthood on. And you especially have no right to try and restrict abortion if you are simultaneously pushing abstinence only education in schools and not informing our young people on how to prevent pregnancies in the first place.
Right now, the Texas legislature is moving to further stigmatize and restrict access to abortion in our state. I am sharing my story because I feel I can no longer be silent. I know there are young women out there right now who are scared and feel alone but know that they are making the right choice not only for themselves but for their unborn child. Though I still struggle with feelings of shame, I know that I wouldn’t have the wonderful life I have today if I had a baby at nineteen years old. I wouldn’t have graduated college with honors. I wouldn’t be able to financially support myself or my future children. I probably wouldn’t be married to my husband who is my rock and support in this life. I made a hard choice, but it was the right choice.
To all women facing this hard choice: don’t be intimidated and don’t be ashamed. This is YOUR choice and yours alone. Not the choice of Republican legislators, not the choice of your conservative family members and friends, and not the choice of a society that shames us for exercising our right to choose. I’m with you in spirit, and I send you love and peace as you make this decision.
The Texas Senate is holding hearings today on three bills that restrict access to abortion. Call the Senators on the Texas Health & Human Services Committee and tell them to vote NO on these measures: