By Jane*, West Fund Volunteer
When I was 19 years old I fell in love with a man seven years my senior. It was a whirlwind romance that climaxed in a proposal after just a month of dating and, after four months, a pregnancy. When I saw the positive result on my pregnancy test, I returned to my college dorm not knowing whether I should feel excited or terrified.
If I love him, why then should I be scared? I did all of the things I thought that a good mother would do, immediately making an appointment with an ob/gyn to get the proper blood tests and prenatal vitamins, all the while knowing that my family would be devastated by the news. My boyfriend was elated. After all, he was 26 and “ready.” As such, he did not take kindly to my trepidation.
After I disclosed my pregnancy, my mother and my aunt spoke with me about considering abortion, pleading with me to think about whether I was ready for a child and how that would alter my entire life’s course. My aunt even drove two hours down to my college town to speak with me in person, have lunch, and normalize the process of abortion. She told me the story of her friend who she described as in her late twenties with a steady, good paying job, who found out a month before her wedding that she was pregnant. Despite the stability, she knew she wasn’t ready yet for a child and she chose to have an abortion instead. She told me it was my choice, my decision, and my body and I wanted to agree with her, but in the back of my mind I could hear my boyfriend describing those who choose an abortion as monsters and I was scared.I was scared I would lose him and I was scared that I would never mentally recover - a line I had heard over and over again from anti-choice activists.
Ultimately, my body made the decision for me, as I began to miscarry. Unfortunately, it was not a complete miscarriage and I chose to undergo a D&C, an evacuation procedure used in abortions, for my own health and reproductive safety. I was thankful that this was an option and, while confused, was quite relieved. Without that outcome, and I would have, perhaps, been trapped in relationship with a man who put his own ideology above my own, who chose drugs and abuse over care for his partner. This was my reality then and, had I not had the support of my family and access to this procedure, it might still be my reality.
This was my reality then and, had I not had the support of my family and access to this procedure, it might still be my reality.
Fast forward three years and I have just moved across the country to live with my current boyfriend here in El Paso. A week after arriving and after a lot of illness, I realized that I was, once again, pregnant.
Although we had been together for two years and had a good relationship, we were poor students and had none of the resources necessary, nor the wherewithal, to raise a child. This time, the decision was easy.
We used the rest of our small savings - about $600 - to pay for the procedure and arrived at the clinic hand in hand. I don’t know what we would have done with barely enough money to pay for an abortion procedure, had we then had to pay for a full nine months of maternity care and, subsequently, a child. Organizations like the West Fund help make procedures like mine more affordable, for those who aren't as lucky to have a small savings, like we were.
Organizations like the West Fund help make procedures like mine more affordable, for those who aren't as lucky to have a small savings, like we were.
I was floored by how friendly the staff was, given the conditions they were forced to deal with in the state of Texas. I felt taken care of. Even when it came to light that I was a part of the 5% of people for whom the abortion pill does not work, they transitioned quickly to a surgical procedure and appropriate care.
These are not scary procedures, although anti-choice activists would have you think that they are. Along with the abortion pill, you are given anti-nausea and pain-controlling medication to help with the intense cramping and potential nausea caused by the procedure. Your body begins to self-evacuate and continues the process for several days, releasing large, period-like blood clots along the way. However, for those seeking these procedures, I would always suggest taking some time off for significant self-care. There will be some pain and discomfort and you will be tired, but it won’t be out of mental agony.
I was lucky enough to have a partner that respected my decisions and supported me each way, walking me to and from the clinics, nursing me when I was not feeling well, aiding in my after-care when I had to have a surgical abortion, and helping me remember to follow up and consider various methods of birth control. He was always so incredibly respectful and that is something I could not replace.
I would always suggest taking some time off for significant self-care.
I have never regretted having either of those procedures, although it has been hard for me to speak of them until now. Perhaps the most traumatic piece of the whole experience was my perception that there was this imposed silence - this idea that you have the right to an abortion, but you must be upset about it.
I am writing this to tell you that that is not true. You do not owe an explanation to anyone for the decision that you made. You do not owe anyone a false sense of regret. You do not need to atone. There are many of us who have made the same decision as you for a multitude of reasons and we want to walk with you to that clinic hand in hand. You should never feel ashamed for being the captain of your own ship. You are worthy of love and you are valuable, no matter what.
------------- Not everybody was as lucky as Jane and able to afford their abortion and get the time off to recover. Donate to the West Fund today to ensure that every person seeking an abortion can afford, access, and recover from abortion safely.