I was pregnant seven times in six years.

Apparently my husband’s job that took him away a week at a time was ideal to maximize our fertility. When we got pregnant the first time, we were in no position to parent a child right then, and had an abortion at eight weeks. It was not pleasant, but then neither is getting a dental cavity filled. A year later, I was pregnant again, and things were different. We married and welcomed our oldest son into the world wholeheartedly. But I had not had the glowing, easy pregnancy that my mother and cousins had had. I felt awful the entire time, and was depressed afterward. Of course, I fell pregnant again almost immediately. We looked at each other and said, simultaneously, “Abortion.” We decided to give the next child up for adoption to a couple of friends of ours who could not have children, and are still in contact with our nephew. Another pregnancy, when I was due to have foot surgery. Oh, HELL no. Another abortion. A miscarriage, which would have been another abortion. Finally, another pregnancy, and this one was when we could welcome our second son into the family. And even then, I had to argue with the doctors about giving me a tubal ligation. I had been so sick when pregnant! I vomited everything I ate for five months, had personality disorders develop, and had my pelvis dislocate. I wanted MY system broken, and finally it was, and I was relieved.

Do not think that I don’t know how to use contraceptives. I’m a college graduate. I do. Every one of those pregnancies were despite contraception, from pills to condoms to a sponge. But I regret none of my decisions. I regret the necessity of deciding, but one must do what one must do, and I had a choice. Even now I work to make sure that my sons know they are likely not shooting blanks, and to make sure that the choice remains for my daughters-in-law, whoever they may be, and for my granddaughters, to have the children they want in the time they want them, whether they need to take a pill or have an abortion. This is a foundational right of womanhood, and my litmus test when I vote.