I understand why people might not want to write about this part. To talk about having an abortion before it’s happened is to open oneself up to personal attacks at an already vulnerable time. After all, to tell any part of a personal abortion story is to portray oneself to anti-choicers as a “baby-killing slut,” as one friend put it. That shouldn’t be. But, what’s more, the crux of pro-choice thinking is that what a woman does with her body is personal and private and subject to no one else’s input. As Internet trolls will inevitably offer their thoughts, an abortion story told in advance of an abortion might seem a plea for another opinion, which undermines the pro-choice logic behind it.
If you check the author’s Twitter account, she is active and doing fine. She has received mostly positive feedback. Thank God. It could also not have ended well.
The confessionals in the comments area of that article on Salon are overflowing. Here’s mine. Because I’m middle aged, I don’t care, and all comments here are monitored for the prevention of, among other things, angry “pro-life” haggies, anyway.
Back in the early 90’s, I was a volunteer for the Planned Parenthood facilities in San Mateo, CA in their Voice for Choice PR program, and also did Saturday canvassing at the Daly City clinic to protect clients from protesters. The protesters in those days were pretty harmless, the worst thing having seen was a blown up picture of a fetus in a jar held by a protestor.
Look the other way, no problem.
A women’s right to choose was not under the type of threat in the US that it is now, so there was a certain attitude among some of the volunteers (myself included) that it was all about protection of visitors from wacko fringers. We were quickly reminded by the volunteer coordinator that this was not the case. That it was imperative to remain vigilant, that things, even at that time, were not perfect, and could change.
How right she was.
Anyway, I was always of the mind that should I ever become pregnant before I felt emotionally or financially ready for a child, I would have an abortion. So when I found myself pregnant in January of 1994, it was a no brainer. I was working a temp job with no benefits and ever changing hours. I had just moved in with my boyfriend. Due to some idiotic financial decisions I made years before, I had no savings and was deeply in debt. I called my best friend to let her know what was going on. Her first words of advice was to keep the baby, if, for nothing else, perchance I could use the baby to leverage the relationship. I was horrified at hearing this, for the last thing I would have ever considered was entrapment of my new partner in a type of relationship he didn’t want.
The very next call I made was to the Planned Parenthood facility in San Mateo. I had already moved to the City by then, but I was willing to travel 25 miles to be with people I trusted. The operator recognized me right away and set me up for an appointment on the next Saturday. I am also sure there is a God and he was with me on this decision, as I made these calls at my temp assignment, and no one said anything to me about it at the site.
Two excruciating weeks later, my boyfriend (now husband) drove me to the facility on his motorcycle. He had accepted my decision, although he confessed to me later that he wasn’t very happy about it. But I felt very strongly about my decision and he stepped aside. In hindsight, he now thinks, of course, that I made the right decision for the both of us.
Anyway, we drove up, the protesters and their big fetus in the jar signs were across the street, and one of the canvassers was a volunteer I knew. This was going to be easy. The doctor was a friendly middle aged Polish man. I was six weeks out. No problem. I felt a slight tug on my uterus, and it was all over in two minutes. I was led to the resting area, where the other patients were various states of calmness, but I didn’t stay long. I ended up taking that the train back to San Francisco and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.
I thought about my parents and how they would have reacted. It was something I never told them. They had told me a couple of times how they tried to have me aborted as a fetus, pretty much for the same reasons I got my abortion. They had no money and were concerned about stability. This being the 60’s, they went to Mexico to get it done, however, the doctor found what he stated were tumors in my mom’s Fallopian tubes, and could not perform the abortion without endangering her life.
There but for the grace of God, etc.
I don’t know why they felt compelled to tell me this story, but I am not mad at them because of it. The same as I have no sentimentality for a six week fetus that I never carried to term. As there was no sentient faculty developed in the part of the fetus as of yet, it was just a body part, like my appendix, that I did not need. I am sure some will come by and argue otherwise.
I will be ready.