I was 18 years old, and had only been in the military for less than a year. I had lost my virginity less than a year before all this. A few months before finding out I was pregnant (in spite of using condoms) I found out my mom had non-hodgkins lymphoma. I sent a letter to the man (the father) who had been deployed on a submarine, and called the ship and left a couple of messages for him to call me back, before they went out to sea, but I never heard from him. In the letter, I said that I would keep the baby if he had any desire to be a father, but otherwise, I was not ready and was having an abortion. I let him know I was not asking for his help in paying for the procedure- I only wanted his input. It was a short term little fling we had – nothing serious, until I got pregnant anyways.
I actually thought I had my period a couple of weeks before going in for my woman’s annual checkup, which they do the pap smear and pregnancy tests and all that. It was a very light period. Well, when the Dr did my pregnancy test (routine) she said I was pregnant. I knew right away that I would have to have an abortion. It was the strangest thing, because before that, I was mostly “pro life”- with many exceptions, exceptions that I had decided were “good enough” for reasons I deemed worthy. I never knew that MY reasons were as worthy as anyone else’s, because it IS my body, and it IS my life, and I am the #1 person responsible for how that life will turn out. I never realized this until that moment. And the decision was absolutely INSTANT. “You’re Pregnant.” “What?? Are you serious?? No way!” “Yes. The test is positive.” “Well, I’m having an abortion. I don’t need a baby. I’m too young for this and my mom has cancer! This would destroy her!” Of course, the doctor was anti-abortion. She then proceeded to try to talk me out of it, saying “Well, you can’t get an abortion through the military.” “That’s okay. I will go to a private clinic.” “It’s expensive.” “I’ll pay for it.” “If something happens, the military will not treat any complications, and a death from abortion is not covered by your life insurance policy.” “I’ll have to get a second opinion on that. Can I leave now??” That doctor was pretty bent on forcing me through a pregnancy that I did not want. It turns out, the military DOES cover aftercare, complications, etc- antibiotics, surgeries to correct stuff, etc- just not the abortion itself. I never had a good rapport with that Dr after that. And certain military doctors and corpsmen would lie about veterans’ benefits long after, just because they were anti-choice. That’s a part of my story. Second opinions are extremely important. Be sure to get more than one person’s word on something, to ensure you know your rights. I went ten years without VA care, because when I got out and got an IUD, after having my son (second pregnancy- also during the service- hey we’re most fertile when we are young lol) I of course was honest with the doc about having had two pregnancies and the first one being an abortion. He told me I only have four months of VA benefits- so it was long enough to get the IUD put in, and having it taken out because it wasn’t staying put. Ten years I either paid for my own health insurance, or went without seeing a Dr. I had one pap in that whole time, too. Sad, right.
As far as my abortion went- I didn’t have a vehicle, and was instructed to have a ride home afterwards anyways. I was at this point not wanting to talk to many people about my personal business, but I knew this one woman who had the medical insignia on her Sr Chief uniform- she was an instructor- I was support staff, so there was no fraternization, really. I asked her how she felt about abortion. She said she was pro life- but only because she couldn’t have babies herself. I told her about my pregnancy. I told her about the letter to the father. I told her about the Dr on base…everything. I told her I just need someone to drive me over to the clinic (which was at least two hours one way- I think it was 2.5 hours one way actually) and wait, and give me a ride back- otherwise I would have to take the bus, and I really didn’t want to be alone. See most of my friends were my age, and not many of us had cars. There were two male friends with cars, but there were only I think 8 single enlisted females on my whole base, and I don’t think any of us had a car at that point. We all ended up with cars, later, of course. Anyways, so Sr Chief agreed to give me a ride to the clinic.
On the day of the abortion, and the night before, I was frantically looking through my desk drawers trying to find my ATM card. I never took it anywhere with me, except to go across the street to the bank to get some cash. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was crying, desperate, almost hopeless, really. I was starting to believe that I would have to have this stupid baby in spite of all this. I called Sr Chief in tears and let her know what had happened. She did something amazing for me. She offered to loan me the money until Monday. I was sooo happy. I had already offered to pay for the gas also, so she would be covered completely. She was such an angel for me that day. I really appreciate everything she did for me, in spite of her own views on abortion, and her inability to have children. It must have been very difficult for her. I jokingly told her that I would surrogate for her one day- I think it made her feel better. =)
Well, we got to the clinic, and it was a Saturday. I was young and stupid, and didn’t even expect protestors, and thankfully there were none to be seen. Well, if there were any, I probably gave them a big cheesy smile like I always do, and said Good Morning, not even realizing that they were a potential threat. Who knows. So, no protestors. That was a good thing.
Got inside the clinic and did paperwork. I remember that there were all kinds of pro choice, pro woman publications in the form of brochures and flyers on all the little end tables and coffee tables. Lots of information on birth control, too. There were also TVs playing a movie or something. We sat down, did paperwork, and then it was just a matter of waiting.
When it came to be my turn, I was asked to lay down on the ultrasound exam table, and face away from the monitor. I did as I was told, but when she put the ultrasound on my tummy, I really wanted to see. I said- “I really want to see.” and I turned my head. She showed me, and said “See- just a blob.” And it was indeed just a blob. This was back when they only had those 2D ultrasounds of course- we all know it’s more than a blob.. but it’s easier to call it that.. it’s certainly not a person. I am a person. Everything in me, is a decision. It doesn’t even matter if there is a law that tells me what I can and can’t do- it’s still going to be my decision. I said “Yep. Just a blob. Lets get it out of me, quick.” I did NOT want to be pregnant. No way, no how. I was only 18! My mom was sick! I wasn’t married. I mean, no way!! Nu-uh.. not going to have an illegitimate child at that age, with a sick mom. Dad died when I was 9.. She only had me and my sister left. After all the years she spent grieving for him- totally depressed- I mean, no way. Plus I really just didn’t like the idea of being that young of a mother.
I went into the treatment room. It was about 15 x 15 feet- and there was a chair in the middle with stirrups, like the kind you get a pap smear on, or deliver.. Idk. They had me get right into it, and then asked me if I was ready. They said it was going to feel like “pressure”.. and it did! It hurt like the dickens!! I actually started screaming NOOO! I don’t want THIS! Yeah it hurt pretty bad. They couldn’t stop, so the man standing next to me, an anesthesiologist- offered me a shot to go to sleep. I hadn’t paid for it, but they didn’t want someone back there screaming, lol. I agreed, and was instantly asleep.
A few hours later, I woke up in a little alcove, in an easy chair. I was extremely groggy, and they had put a large maxi pad into my underwear to keep me clean. There is some expected bleeding afterwards.. I really couldn’t walk alone, so when I woke up, I flagged someone down to go get Sr Chief to take me home.
I don’t remember the car ride home. I do remember that they gave me some kind of medicine for bladder infections- Tetracycline. I also wasn’t allowed to have sex for a few weeks. No big deal.
Later, I joined an online messaging group that was involved in pretty serious abortion debates. There were other women in that group who had had abortions too. One of those women was a neurologist- her strongest argument was that with no cerebral cortex, there is no sentience. It made perfect sense. There were also women who never had one, and were very mean and hatemongering. I flip flopped a little, for a couple of years on how I even felt about my own abortion, which was years before joining this group. I had a son at this point, and was happy with my family. Mom died of cancer anyways, while I was pregnant with my second child (whose father married me, yesss).. I was being shown 4d ultrasound images and pictures of priests and protestors carrying around stillborn babies and passing them off as aborted fetuses. Some of that stuff really affected me, temporarily. It was almost like having PTSD- but the abortion I had wasn’t what hurt. What hurt was the way I was treated- like a second class citizen- for having made a responsible decision about my life. Some of the hateful people made me so scared, I even made a page in memory of my fetus, named the thing, and everything. I don’t remember what I named it. It was just me being scared of someone bombing my work or apartment, I reckon.
I recognize that some people have the mindset that “It’s okay under circumstances that I think are okay, but not others.” But until you are experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, it’s hard to understand that your circumstances may be the only thing you need to make this choice. Any circumstances apply, as long as you decide for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having an abortion- and there’s nothing wrong with going full term, putting the baby up for adoption, or becoming a parent. These are all choices we all have to live with- and every one of them comes with hardship. For those who abort- the question will always remain.. “What if..” and for those who put their children up for even an open adoption- their own hardships will increase from that “What if” to sometimes “where did they move to now? Why did they change their number? I wish I could… etc..” And becoming a parent has a plethora of good and bad- financial hardship, emotional issues, and the huge responsibility that guiding a child through their life until adulthood, to become a productive, well adjusted citizen- that’s not easy either.
I can only hope that every decision you make is one you can celebrate, the way I have.