In 1983, I was living in Texas and was raped by a man who was the friend of my boss. He gave me a ride home after she’d left me stranded at a bar. When we got to my apartment, he told me he wasn’t able to drive home because he’d had too much to drink. I told him he could sleep on the couch downstairs. I briefly woke up to see him tip-toeing into my room, and that was all I remember. Whether he slipped me a date rape drug, or I’d had too much to drink, I wasn’t conscious and did not consent. When I woke up, I realized what had happened, locked myself in the bathroom and insisted he leave.
Why not report it? I struggled with the same things women have always struggled with – I was drinking, I’d left the party with him, I let him stay at my apartment. It was my fault; my mistake.
At the time, I wasn’t using birth control because I wasn’t seeing anyone. Like most of my friends, I tended to use birth control only when I was in a serious relationship. We all had random sex and assured each other we were most likely safe because it only happened once or we were “okay” because of where we were in our cycle. When I used birth control, I bought it at the grocery store. I was raised Catholic. Somehow I believed that if I went on the pill, I was being promiscuous. I was extremely confused at that point in my life.
Within a week or so, on some conscious level, I knew I was pregnant even though I’d never been pregnant before. I was a college student and barely making a living wage. My father was not working and had suffered a nervous breakdown. My mother was working full-time at a minimum wage retail job, raising my two younger brothers. We had no extended family.
From a financial standpoint, I didn’t know how I could even begin to care for a child. From an rational standpoint, I thought my being pregnant would push my mother and father over the edge. I knew they would be unable to provide financial resources or any kind of emotional support. From an emotional standpoint I knew could not go through with the pregnancy.
I analyzed my situation from all sides. People use the argument that a child isn’t to blame in circumstances of rape, but why is the woman forced to carry to term a pregnancy she did not consent to? I struggled with my spiritual belief that a child should be wanted.
I went to my boss, who I knew had experienced an abortion. At the clinic, they told me I couldn’t know that I was pregnant as it hadn’t been long enough since my last period. I waited a week, performed a pregnancy test and was able to schedule the abortion immediately.
The staff was caring and kind. The procedure was slightly painful, but the doctor was gentle and considerate. He explained what he was doing and told me that it appeared I was approximately five weeks pregnant. As I left the clinic, I felt a wave of relief.
I have never regretted having my abortion. While I was raped, I fully support abortion under any circumstance. Why do the rights of a fetus outweigh a woman’s right as a human being? Why do the same people who want to outlaw abortion also want to prohibit birth control or aid to dependent families? What about the emotional well-being of a child throughout their lifetime? The responsibility for another human being is not simply to provide them with life. Women know that. We must fight to keep abortion safe and legal.
I’ve had two sons; I chose them and I cherish them. They know about my experience. I am happy to see that their circle of friends supports safe sex, consent and waiting to become parents until they are ready.