It was one week before my 24th birthday when I found out that my diligent birth control efforts were fallible. The decision to not be pregnant by the time I turned 24 was one of the most straightforward I have ever made.
A mere two years out of college, I was working as a restaurant server and freelance translator—hardly a stable livelihood—and providing for my partner as he dealt with financial hardships. As we fantasized about future travels and worked toward turning our passions into careers, I knew that having a child would put a stop (or at least a very long pause) to our aspirations. Most importantly, I did not want to bring a child into the world who was not wholeheartedly wanted and to whom I could not be the best possible parent.
Ever since I acted on that decision, the only negative feeling I have had associated with my abortion is anger at the fact that so much of its success rested on privilege.
I was privileged to have information: discovering my pregnancy at its earliest stage, I knew exactly what my options were, thanks largely to the efforts of advocates for reproductive rights. I was privileged to have a loving, supportive partner who respected my choice and made my well being a priority, driving me to and from the abortion clinic. I was privileged to live only 15 minutes away from said clinic, such that its amazing, compassionate staff were able to schedule my first appointment given only one day’s notice and perform my surgical abortion on a day I regularly had off of work (a procedure so simple that I was able to work normally the following day). I was privileged to have health insurance cover all but 50 dollars of my expenses. I was privileged to be able to afford 50 dollars. I was privileged to have a very happy 24th birthday.
What if I had lived over 150 miles from the nearest abortion clinic? What if I had not been able to afford taking time off of work, covering travel and lodging costs for a two- to three-day trip, or paying for the procedure itself? What if, for lack of anyone to support my decision, I had had to do it all alone? How many obstacles—posed by stigma, inequality, and absurdly restrictive legislations—I could have faced to exercising my right to a safe, legal abortion!
It has been seven months. If I had had no choice but to carry my pregnancy to term, I would be giving birth within the next few weeks. My partner’s and my life would be unrecognizable. I am relieved and happy that that is not the case. But I am still angry.