Allow me to officially denounce a common misconception about my situation: I’m not looking forward to this.
I’m not, in fact, blissfully going about my days in an ignorant haze. In my calendar, I didn’t pencil in “Have an abortion” between “Get a pedicure” and “Visit Mom.” I’m not a murderous villain, and I haven’t any hairless cats to pet while hatching my evil plans for infanticide and laughing maniacally.
I hate to disappoint, but it’s not that simple. I’m sad about the whole thing.
You’re probably waiting for me to tell you that I can’t carry a child to term for medical reasons, or you want to hear that I was raped, because that would make it okay.
Sorry — I wasn’t raped, and neither of those things is true. Basically, aside from the fact that mine will be an early-term abortion, I am the worst in the eyes of the “pro-life.” Some of those people are my family and friends, who will be horrified to read this when I publish it. Over the past couple of weeks, they have unknowingly been calling me all sorts of things: a monster, a murderer, and outright inhuman.
Since I can’t talk to anyone about having an abortion, I think I’ll just talk to everyone instead.
Before you type out your comments and emails, please consider the following realities about my experience, even though they may be inconvenient to your ideology:
I am struggling to financially support myself as it is, and I would never willingly bring a child into a life of poverty.
While some parts of the U.S. are raising the minimum wage to a livable $15 an hour, I do not live in one of those states. As a single person without children, I would need to make $18 an hour to support myself in Texas — believe me, my hourly rate is well below that, but it is higher than the state minimum of $7.25. I work full-time, but I still just barely stay above water on a regular basis. I have no savings, and my credit score is abysmal. I have enough student debt to pay for a small house. Why would I force a baby to live this way? It would be even worse with two of us. We all know that poverty affects children’s health and well-being, but I also realize many in the far right don’t care about that sort of thing after birth.
This was my only other consideration; I’ve even had sappy daydreams about carrying the child to term and then arranging a private adoption with a friend, because it would potentially provide a happy ending for everyone. My biological drives would be satisfied, and someone who wants to be a parent would get to raise a kid. Considering my medical background, though, the likely complications would require ample money set aside for medical costs (not to mention my blood type is O-, meaning the fetus is probably at risk for being attacked by my immune system). Those expenses are not guaranteed through private adoptions or through adoption agencies, and it’s too large a risk to take with my specific set of needs. I wish that weren’t the case. I wish I could trust the system that much, but I can’t.
It’s an interesting paradox, considering the fact that anti-choice rhetoric often comes from the same people who are against universal health care. This article does a fantastic job of explaining why abortion is simply part of reproductive health care, and there is no getting around it. I’m not married, and I’m a grad student who works full-time, but I have no health coverage. How unfortunate it is that my value in the eyes of the state begins and ends with my ability to reproduce.
I don’t want the father to be forced to pay 18 years of his life for a child neither of us planned for, simply because he ejaculated and my egg happened to be fertilized.
I love my partner, and I watch him regularly pay his dues — financially and emotionally — for having fathered children with his ex-wife. He is responsible and caring, and he has almost no rights when it comes to making decisions about parenting; unlike many fathers, he has a 50/50 custody arrangement, but more specifically, the decision to be a parent is not his at all, aside from his ability to ejaculate. That power is in my hands, and in the hands of his ex, and any woman he has ever slept with. I may bear the brunt of societal scorn, but he bears the brunt of the law. Abortion is a choice both of us made together — this pregnancy was an accident and should not be used as a weapon for me to gain financial assistance. I love him, and I don’t want either of us to suffer, just like I don’t want any future child of mine to suffer. Having children is serious shit! This decision should not be taken lightly; you aren’t doing a kid any favors by bringing it into a life of financial or emotional strife out of some compulsory sense of obligation.
There are medical conditions to be considered, but none are deal breakers.
I do have a tumor in my uterus (the same place where the baby is growing, for those who are unaware of female anatomy despite having strong opinions about female anatomy). It is likely a benign fibroid, but I don’t know yet. I’m getting my tumor marker test retaken in a month to monitor it, so I already have possible cancer looming over me to begin with. Thinking about growing a baby and a tumor inside my uterus is supremely unsettling. There’s also the fact that I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which makes pregnancy particularly difficult and more medically dangerous for the mother.
Let’s not forget the capsular contracture I’ve had since age 26, when I had a reconstructive surgery after a 170 lb weight loss; I was so sure about not wanting children at that time that I went ahead and got small saline implants. Unfortunately, the right side was rejected by my body and is a constant source of pain, even without the added discomfort of milk production. I have also had 2 major (necessary) surgeries on my abdomen, which left me with a total of 8 abdominal incision scars and a small hernia. I can’t believe for one second that this body would gracefully carry a child, and it might actually cause severe illness or death, but the only way to know is to try. Since it’s my body, I’d rather not, but so many think I am obligated to go for it anyway.
I still feel.
I feel a baby growing inside of me, and a big part of me is quite sad that bringing a child into my life isn’t a practical option. Being pregnant is bittersweet for me. I feel my tender breasts, my pregnancy bloat, my fatigue, my heightened sense of smell, my nausea, my food cravings, my rising hCG levels, my mood swings, and my complicated feelings about this decision. I’m wistful thinking about all the “what if” scenarios in front of me, and there is certainly a biologically-driven desire within me to procreate, especially with a man I’m truly in love with. I see how he is as a single father to his two children, and my lizard brain tells me to hold onto this one and spread his genes around as much as possible. It would be an insanely smart kid, and I’m sure we have the potential to be an excellent parental team — but it isn’t what either of us wants or is prepared for.
I have to wait, thanks to the state.
I have to walk around knowing I’m pregnant, knowing they will force me to look at the ultrasound, and then wait between 24 hours and a week after the initial appointment before I’m allowed to take the pill. I must suffer for being an accidental vehicle for life. I won’t be able to finish the process until March 23rd, due to a combination of my work schedule and state-mandated waiting periods for abortions (no, employers don’t care if a woman is going through this; best not to mention it in the south, in fact). I will be 7 weeks by then. I wish I could do it now, but I’m not allowed to; the same policymakers who vilify late-term abortions are the people who create hurdles for women seeking early-term abortions. I will go through a chemically-induced miscarriage on the weekend of the 23rd, and then I will return to working 12 hour days, unable to tell anyone what I just went through or why I’m not on my A game at work. That weekend, I will also have several grad school assignments to turn in, regardless of the physical and emotional discomfort I will be going through.
In the middle of all of this, I have to listen to all the nasty things people are saying right now about women seeking abortions.
This includes those in my inner circle, who don’t know about me (well, I suppose they do now). Oh, and I can’t wait to encounter the protesters at the clinic — because certainly, after all of this careful consideration of my circumstances and emotions, they will change my mind by yelling profanities at me. (How many times has that actually worked? How often do women encounter these hurtful comments, stop in their tracks, and say, “Holy shit, you’re right! Now all of my financial and emotional roadblocks seem so irrelevant!”…?)
Ultimately, I wish to assure you that I’m making an informed decision, even if it makes me sad. It’s mine to make, not yours. I’m not making it from a place of carelessness or even neutrality — nobody likes having an abortion. I have considered my options carefully, and this is the right choice. Perhaps things would be different if we improved our foster care system, made health care available for everyone, or allowed all Americans a chance at a truly livable wage. Maybe it would be different if we weren’t so stuck in ancient patriarchal dialogues on a federal scale, or if women were no longer shamed into going through reproductive health processes alone. Until that time comes, I take bittersweet comfort in knowing I’m not actually alone, and that maybe the women reading this will feel a little less alone too. We are not monsters, and we must stick together.