My abortion story
This is where I tell you my abortion story. I tell you that I was six weeks along, or 15. I tell you that I was 16-years-old and in love, or 29-years-old and alone. I tell you I cried. Or I didn’t. I tell you because I told nobody, or I tell you as I’ve told many people throughout my life. This is where I tell you my abortion story, if I even have one, but that isn’t the story I want to tell.
I want to tell you about last weekend, when I was driving my minivan on the freeway and the engine suddenly froze. I was coming home from the reproductive rights rally when the gas pedal suddenly touched the worn carpet beneath it, straining even further than my nerves. My 4,000 lb vehicle wouldn’t respond to this routine ask, deeply wounded in pride or physical form. I managed to steer the van to the shoulder, ever so slowly, afraid to brake too early and be stranded in the middle of the freeway without a way to accelerate. It wasn’t until I was stopped in the median, emergency lights clicking an SOS that was muffled by each passing semi truck, that my daughter even noticed anything was wrong. The way our vehicle shook with each passing car unsettled her, and my own anxiety was matching hers, notch for notch. I tried watching every car in my rearview window, teeth clenched, willing them to give us a few extra inches. It was completely useless with cars coming every few seconds and us having no recourse even if one did veer our way. We just have to trust the cars passing us, I told her, while wondering how anyone is qualified enough to steer a metal death trap through traffic-filled streets day after day, but not qualified enough to make medical decisions for themself.
If I did have an abortion I would probably tell you that someone held my hand. A nurse or a boyfriend. My parents or my husband. But instead I want to tell you how I gave birth to a tiny baby whose heart stopped beating for inexplicable reasons, even though she was the most wanted decision I had ever made. I want you to know that I stayed in the hospital for almost a week, birthing her, grieving her, and undergoing emergency surgery when her placenta refused to let go. And as I was wheeled into surgery, broken in ways no surgeon could ever repair, nobody could hold my hand. If I did have an abortion, I can assure you it wouldn’t have been nearly as traumatic as that.
If I was going to tell you about my aborition I would have to explain that there were health considerations, or financial ones. I already had children or it was my first time being pregnant. There was an absent father, or a doting one. But instead I want to tell you about the time I thought I was going to bleed to death in an Albertsons parking lot. A doctor had decided if I could make it to a pharmacy, they could get me the medication I needed to stop the bleeding much faster than if I had to drive to a provider. But I had to make it into the pharmacy and I was weighed down with tears and blood. By the grace of a pharmacist I got the medication I needed in record speed. Not even two weeks later I heard a story on the radio about a pharmacist far away, or in my home state, who refused to fill that same prescription for a woman in a similar situation because it could be used to induce an abortion. My father helped me scrub blood out of my carpets for hours, but years later everything still feels stained.
I’m not going to tell you about my abortion story, just like I’m not going to tell you about the time I got kidney stones and landed in the Emergency Room when I was 8-weeks-pregnant with my second child. But I will tell you they still gave me percocet.
I’m not going to tell you the story because it belongs to me. Or it belongs to 25% of women everywhere.
I don’t want to tell you my abortion story, if I even have one, so you can decide whether an embryo was human enough to criminalize my actions. Instead, I want to tell you my story so you can decide whether I am human enough to make decisions for myself.