My abortion story began just a couple months after “beating teen pregnancy”. I was twenty year old with what some would consider a good job in a growing career. Many asked why did I need an abortion? I wasn’t a minor. I wasn’t wealthy but I made decent money. I had family support. My answer because I want one. I wasn’t ready to have a child. To answer the question from conservatives I didn’t want to get ready either. Why saddle a child with the feeling of being a burden if neither of us has to experience this? I was just a twenty something with no idea what I was doing or who I wanted to be.
There wasn’t any emotional baggage from my decision. I was fortunate enough to have a pro-choice support system. This doesn’t mean I was oblivious to abortion stigma. I live in the Bible Belt after all. I knew this wasn’t something I could openly talk about and when I arrived to the clinic I was confronted with that stigma head on. There were people crowded around the parking lot entrance with graphic signs and yelling. They either wanted to change my mind or were condemning me to hell. Out of sheer curiosity I stopped, and a pastor gave me this tiny silicon fetus. I guess he wanted me to identify with what he considered a life inside me. All I identified with was the fact that people who did not look like me, who appeared to have more access to financial and societal resources than I did who, and who did not care about what happens to be me after this moment found themselves my judges. They weren’t in touch with my plight, yet they felt they could take away my rights.
Once inside, sitting in the waiting room, you get to see who how many people abortion effects. You hear stories of others just trying to do the best for them. You also see how hard it is to get an abortion. I’m a government employee and my insurance wouldn’t cover abortion because of the Hyde Amendment. So I had to pay $600 out of pocket. This wasn’t something that I just had laying around. I had to scrape that together. How was someone who barely pulled together $600 supposed to have the resources to support a child?
I had another abortion 5 years later. This was after having my first child. I was even further along in my career, and I had even more resources. The question of why was asked of me again. My answer was still because I wanted one. After having a child, I knew I didn’t want another one. I had more than enough resources for us to have a good life but any more would be a strain. Also, labor was a traumatic experience for me, and it’s not something I want to go through again. This time I knew more of what to expect. I decided to live stream my day at the clinic and for the following week I updated my followers on how I was doing and what I was experiencing. What surprised me was the sheer lack of education on abortion. I was bombarded with questions. People just didn’t know what abortion really was. Whether this was from stigma, misinformation, ignorance or a combination of all three. I tried my best to answer all the questions, but I was livid that this information wasn’t easily accessible to people. Even if it was they didn’t know where to look. For a procedure so globally controversial a lot of people didn’t know what was really going on. This included both supports and opponents.
Abortion is legal but it didn’t feel safe. I didn’t feel supported. The crowd yelling at me as I entered and exited the clinic had a clear view of my face and my license plate. How is that safe? I didn’t have insurance coverage because of a governmental policy. My providers had to tell me information that implied guilt on my part because of another political policy. I still see people I know and love shame those who have abortion not knowing I’m one of them. No one educates you on what to expect when having an abortion. Where is the support? No one should have to experience this. Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is my right.