When I was in my final year of my undergrad degree, Planned Parenthood switched my birth control pills from the dosage I had previously been using to a new dose that was supposed to be more natural. Unfortunately in my case, the dosage was not right for my particular body, and I became pregnant.
There was no Planned Parenthood clinic in my university town. This was in the days before home pregnancy tests were widely available, and I had no health care other than that I received through the school clinics (limited at best) or through Planned Parenthood. Being on a limited budget, I had to wait until I could return home on a vacation period to get a pregnancy test, so by the time my pregnancy was confirmed, I was already at 12 weeks. I was unable to obtain an abortion at that point simply due to the timing factor, as I had only the short break in which to get arrangements completed. So I returned to university knowing that I had a tough decision making process ahead of me.
This was not helped by the fact that my parents and my best friend were pressuring me to keep the baby. At first I agreed, with the intent of giving the baby up for adoption. But the baby’s father – my boyfriend at the time – was completely against that option, and continued to pressure me to get an abortion. In the end, I gave in.
An additional complication to my situation was that there were no abortion providers in the part of the state where my university was. The closest was nearly four hours away, which would have involved additional travel expense and overnight housing, neither of which were financially feasible. In the end, I had to wait until I returned home for Christmas break, and was 18 weeks pregnant by that point.
Christmas that year was painful. Inarguably the worst Christmas I remember. My parents were angry with everyone in the house due to bad decisions on the part of some of my siblings – as well as at me for the impending abortion. My boyfriend was financially supportive, but really not emotionally supportive. My best friend was supportive of my decision in the end, and was the saving factor in my life at that point.
After I went through the abortion, my parents informed me that they would only pay the next semester’s tuition, even though I had two semesters left to go – one of which would have been my student teaching. They never said that it was a decision that they made as a result of my decision to have an abortion, but that was the impression with which I was left. As a result of that, it took me two years longer to complete my teaching degree.
And my boyfriend at the time? Well, I stayed with him for two more years and put up with emotional and verbal abuse from him and his parents. At the end of the relationship, he told me that he had always believed that I got pregnant on purpose in order to force him into marrying me. This was apparently what his mother had told him over and over again about me…
Later, when I was married and expecting my first child, I had a miscarriage. I castigated myself, believing at first that it was due to my late-term abortion. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful doctor who reassured me that I was not responsible for any part of this miscarriage. I went on to have three healthy, happy sons, who are now teenagers themselves.
When my son came to me in the spring and informed me that his girlfriend was pregnant, and asked me to help them get to the Planned Parenthood clinic, he was expecting me to lose my temper with him and chew him out because he had made this mistake. But as I told him – who was I to judge him? I had made my own mistakes, and had had my own abortion (which he knew about – I have been very honest with my sons with regard to sex, pregnancy, etc.) I gave him a hug, talked about being more careful, and proudly drove him and his girlfriend to the clinic twice – once to confirm the pregnancy, and once to end it.
The funny part in all of this? My parents have always been pro-choice. In fact, they are so adamantly pro-choice that when the Republican party took its swing toward the anti-abortion side of the fence, my parents switched parties. I think in the end, even though they weren’t happy about my decision, they support my right to be able to make it. Just as I support any woman’s right to make that decision.