I’m sharing my story in light of the new abortion laws in Ohio and Alabama.
I’m a cancer survivor. I received a life saving surgery in June 2016 that put my cancer into remission. Not only 4 months later, I found out I was pregnant. I think many people assume that pregnancy happens only two ways. It’s either planned or it’s caused by irresponsibility. Many don’t know that you can get pregnant while taking contraceptives.
One day I started having painful debilitating cramps. I was bleeding and my gut told me that something was very very wrong. This wasn’t a regular period, I never had felt this much pain. I waited a week before I sought help because I didn’t have any health insurance. I was nearly 30k in the hole from my cancer treatment. Eventually I couldn’t ingnore my instincts any longer and I went into an urgent care. Within that 20 minute visit my life changed drastically. The doctor told me that not only was I pregnant, but that I could be dying. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. How can you get pregnant when you’ve taken every measure to protect yourself? It made no sense. I argued with the doctor in disbelief. I told him I was going home, and he said that if I wasn’t transferred to a hospital immediately I could die. After much protest I was sent to Holy Family Hospital. They ran tests but could not determine if it was a ectopic pregnancy or if I was misscarrying. They told me I had to wait. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I had just survived cancer and I was ready to continue living my life. I was in immense pain and wanted it to be over. I asked my doctor if I could have an abortion. It made sense, especially when I was told by previous doctors that pregnancy would be high risk and dangerous for me, especially right after treatment. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to receive radiation at this point. I didn’t want to have to make the choice between a fetus and my life. After I asked the doctor for an abortion he gave me a stern look. He said “we don’t do that here.” Then he got up and left the room. A nurse came in later with a prescription for oxys and my discharge paperwork. I wasn’t given after care, or any referrals. I was completely alone. Terrified, I started calling gynecologists and doctors for help. Eventually I came across planned parenthood. They got me into a clinic immediately. There I was welcomed with open arms. My questions were all answered respectfully. I was provided education and most importantly, dignity and compassion. I chose to receive a surgical abortion. My body was already taken over by cancer and I wasn’t ready to have it be taken again by something that could put my life at risk. At planned parenthood I wasn’t treated as a second class citizen. A 3 week fetus should never take precedent over a 19 year olds life. My life was just beginning and I wasn’t ready to be a parent. Women will still find ways of obtaining abortions and doctors will still find ways to provide them despite any law. It is a basic human right to choose what you want for your life. It took me so many years to let go of the guilt I felt. I tortured myself by looking at anti-choice propaganda online. I couldn’t believe how many people believed I was going to hell or that I deserved prison time or even death for having an abortion. Our reproductive rights are slowly diminishing in the United States. It is more important now than ever to tell our stories and stand united.