I was a sophomore in college when I found out I was pregnant. I took the test on a whim; I had been having cramps for about a week and had a seriously heightened sense of smell, but my period hadn’t come.
I remember feeling numb when I saw the positive result–I couldn’t quite decide how I felt. I had been in a serious relationship with Yussuf for about a year, but we were in an extremely tumultuous period. We kept breaking up off and on, and in some desperate attempts to revive the dying relationship, we were having a lot of sex. Obviously, it wasn’t working, but we were young and scared of letting go. I was taking birth control at the time, but a few missed pills was enough. I called Yussuf to tell him about the test and he immediately asked me to come see him. I got to his dorm and we just sat in silence for a long period of time. Then, he asked me to take another test in front of him. This hurt me, but I went into the stall and he watched as the two bright pink lines appeared. Back in the dorm, he started crying and begging me to get an abortion. Yussuf was a Muslim, and I was not. He was scared about how his parents would react and told me that he would marry me immediately if I just terminated the pregnancy. I continued to sit in silence and left to think about it on my own. I certainly wasn’t going to marry someone as collateral. At first, I thought I wanted to continue the pregnancy and raise the child on my own, but after seriously considering whether or not I could care for a child, I began having doubts. I come from a low income household in Western Massachusetts. Both my grandmother and my mother had their first children in their teens, and both urged me to terminate the pregnancy. I know my mother loved me, but I know that she never fully reached her potential because of our economic situation. I had always done really well in school, and was on track to earn my bachelor’s degree with honors. I wasn’t ready to give that up. In the mean time, Yussuf’s parents found out about the pregnancy. They threatened to send Yussuf to another country to get away from me, and, being very wealthy, threatened to take the baby from me should I have it. Yussuf made it clear that he was not going to be involved with my child. At this point, I was entirely overwhelmed. I knew that if I made the decision to get an abortion, I had to do it on my own and I had to do it sooner rather than later. I stopped talking to everyone, and took a trip to Planned Parenthood to schedule an appointment. The staff was so unbelievably warm to me. I never felt pressured into any decision and they answered all of the questions I had about raising a child, adoption, and abortion. After this intense counseling period, I decided to have the abortion at 5 weeks pregnant. A friend came with me and the staff made me as comfortable as possible. The procedure was not easy–although I didn’t experience any severe physical pain, I still felt emotional pain for having to make this difficult decision. I was glad, however, to have medical personnel all around me who held my hand and rubbed my arm when I needed it. I went home exhausted and withdrawn. I didn’t tell Yussuf what I had done until a week or so after the procedure. He hadn’t reached out to me, and when I told him, he was angry that I hadn’t told him sooner. The relationship ended in a dramatic uproar–screaming phone calls, calling names, fighting in the hallways. I was finally able to let go.
It has been six years since I made the decision to terminate that pregnancy. Although I feel sadness for what I had to do, I do not feel regret. I graduated college with honors, and I am now pursuing my master’s degree. I am engaged to a wonderful man, and I have an incredibly healthy relationship. I’ve never been secretive about my abortion. I know I will have children someday and that I will be able to provide for them like I wouldn’t have been able to provide for my first pregnancy, had I continued it. As I’ve matured, I’ve also realized how incredibly grateful I am to have had Planned Parenthood as a resource during this difficult time in my life. When my family and friends were pressuring me to make certain decisions, I was able to take control of my own body in an unbiased environment. I cannot imagine living in a world where this option would not have been available to me. I hope that all women who find themselves in my position have those resources to make informed decisions about the future of their lives and the fate of their bodies.