I was barely 18, and toward the end of completing military training cycle at Fort Sam Houston, TX when I found out I was pregnant. Training can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle so I thought nothing of it when I missed my period. Plus, I was using protection when sexually active, which left me no reason to suspect pregnancy.
Therefore, I was 12+ weeks along before seeing an ultrasound that confirmed my pregnancy. When I was told I was pregnant, I didn’t feel joy or excitement of which other women speak. I knew immediately I wanted an abortion, and being 12+weeks didn’t have a lot of time to obtain one. Being in the military and in the midst of training, I didn’t know how to approach anyone about obtaining an abortion and any answers of how it would affect my progress in completing the cycle. When I informed my drill sergeant I was pregnant and wanted an abortion, he ignored my request and said things like I needed to take responsibility for my actions and accept I’d be a mother soon. He wanted to hear nothing about abortion, nor did he want to direct me to anyone with information to help me. His attitude was shared with my company commander who congratulated me and basically gave me a speech about taking responsibility for my actions, followed by a request to remove me from training to place me at a menial desk job for nine months or until I gave birth and then return me to a new training cycle. He said that’s all he could do for me. I was mortified, and for many reasons. First, I was experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and emotionally distraught about my future. Second, I was brushed aside by male authority figures who were determined I was going to have a child. Third, I was part of an organization who was denying me my constitutional rights to access an abortion and had a right to because when I enlisted I became property of the U.S. Army. And, as their property it was decided abortion was not an option for me. Once again I was mortified, along with feeling loneliness, anxiety and fear. I appealed to my liaison, who without any surprise supported my commanders decision and he basically told me I had no “choice”, but to concede and accept the consequences of my actions. No choice. I called my mom, who fortunately, as a last resort, had a card to play in my favor. Unknowingly to my drill sergeant and commander I had hidden the fact of having a family member who was a very very very high ranking officer in the Army. Once he heard my story he used his influence to advocate my right to terminate the pregnancy and be returned to the same training cycle within two-three days after the abortion. I’m not proud of the fact my mom basically pulled rank on my drill sergeant and commander, but I am proud of my family member for his involvement in fighting for my right to exercise my choice. And, had it not been for his influence I don’t know if I would be here today. I was 15 weeks pregnant when I took leave for the termination of my pregnancy. I didn’t have an abortion in Texas, as I flew home to be accompanied to the clinic by a very supportive mom. When I returned to training I faced an indifferent drill sergeant and commander who used their time and influence to make my life more difficult than should be until the training cycle ended. I was also faced with the loss of respect and negative judgments of fellow soldiers, male and female, with some turning their backs on me completely. I know what it’s like to have your choice and constitutional rights violated by the very institution that is sworn to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution. For a moment in time I knew what it felt like to be under the thumb of a man and institution who has the power to dictate my reproductive decisions, and the emotional distress, loneliness, feelings of devastation and breathlessness accompanied with having “No Choice”, along with the judgment passed against me for choosing abortion. At that moment in time, being forced against my will to forgo a pregnancy, I know what it feels like to have no control over the future, with my goals and dreams of the future shattered by the will of men who vehemently exercised their power to control my reproductive choices. I am not ashamed of my choice to terminate the pregnancy. If anything I consider it to be the responsible choice because I was barely 18, unfit to be a parent, immature, irresponsible with an incomplete college education and less than enough means to support a child as a single mother, financially and emotionally.