I’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster since Roe vs. Wade was overturned, swinging from white-hot fury to inconsolable grief, and it’s been difficult to put pen to paper and find the words I want to share with you. I never thought I would ever have to (or need to) share my abortion story with anyone (except maybe a few). I am not famous or influential; I am simply a woman like you.I am 1 in 4 women who have had to make that decision, and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You aren’t an evil person. You are human and your body is your own to make any decision that is right for you.
My choice was based on having two children already and being in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I was using birth control. However, 1.) chronic illness and antibiotic use may have caused the birth control to be ineffective, and 2.) I suspected my (then) husband of tampering with my birth control. The second time I got pregnant was a result of my husband raping me before I finally left him. I had no idea at the time that a husband could rape his wife, but I knew that if I had another child, I would have no other choice than to stay with him. I had no higher education and no means of caring for my children on my own without his help, and I made the painful decision to terminate in the best interest of the children I already had.
Women shouldn’t have to explain themselves, justify themselves, or prove to anyone that their decision is the best one for them. She is the one who has to bear the duration of the pregnancy, bring that child into the world, and possibly raise that child until they are 18 years old. No argument against abortion makes sense to me. Women are not vessels to incubate a child until birth because it fits their moral or religious beliefs. You cannot force a woman to bear a pregnancy to term because you think it is best for her. We are human and the overturning of this decision has painfully reminded all women that we are less than. That we do not know what is right for us and, worst of all, that our body is not our own.
This is emotional and even as I write this, my fingers almost unable to keep up with my ping-ponging thoughts, I am forced to take a breath. My third abortion, or D&C as it was called, happened because of an ectopic pregnancy after my third child was born. Had it been a viable pregnancy, it would never have been terminated, but ectopic pregnancies that have gone untreated can sometimes cause death. I was lucky to have had the pain that brought me to the doctor, or I might not have had my last child. But I will never forget the pain of that loss.
As women, we are given the gift of bringing life into the world, but it should be a life that is wanted or a life that you are willing to grow until you give it to someone else to love and cherish. Pregnancy should be on our terms. No one should be forced to endure the pregnancy of incest or rape unless they want to give that life to another. No woman should lose her life to a botched abortion because they didn’t have access to one close by. There are millions of reasons why a woman should be able to terminate her pregnancy, but the biggest one is: Bodily Autonomy
What is bodily autonomy, you ask? It is the power of the individual, in this case, women, to make decisions about their bodies without coercion or the fear of violence. These decisions can be about what they are comfortable doing with sexual partners, husbands, contraceptives, and as basic as health care. Forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy that she is not willing to sustain, or that is unviable, goes against recognized human rights. It is beyond cruel to force a woman to breed against her will. It is beyond cruel to tell her that she has to travel to another state to have the procedure done when she may not have either the support or resources to get her there. It is beyond cruel to force upon her the responsibility of a child, who will impact everything from her ability to continue school to her earning potential. The argument that she could give the baby up for adoption and choose life is grand, but there is still the gestation of that baby in her womb. Does she even have the resources available to care for herself or to see a doctor regularly? Will she be safe, living on the streets, or forced to be in an unsafe environment because she has nowhere else to go? Will she be mentally capable of letting the baby go after it is born, if adoption is an option? Making the callous decision to restrict women’s access to abortion health care will have long lasting consequences for the women of this country.