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Questions to ponder as you testify:
20+ Years Ago
I've never gone public on social media about having had an abortion, but the new law in Texas has infuriated me so much I can't be silent any longer.
When I was in my 20s I went on a trip to England with my then boyfriend (now husband) and I wasn't always careful with birth control. I knew almost immediately I probably made a huge mistake, but back then (1998) I don't think the morning after pill was an option or I didn't know about it.
I knew I was pregnant within 2 weeks because of symptoms like extremely sore breasts. I don't remember where I got the test, but I remember after I took it and saw the results my first reactions was oh f**k. I decided what I wanted to do before I even told my boyfriend. I had just started a new job and was living in a studio apartment and couldn't even imagine having a kid at that point even though all I ever wanted growing up was to be a mom.
I graduated with a major in Women's Studies at Penn State in 1993 and earned a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from the George Washington University in 1996. I had worked at the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and Catholics for a Free Choice, so I knew a lot about women's health care and the options for non-surgical abortion.
I did my research and found there was one clinic in Maryland that offered medical abortion. I knew that's what I wanted to do because it was the only option if you were less than 6 weeks pregnant. I think I found out at 4 weeks and got my appointment and 4.5 or 5 weeks. My insurance plan would have covered a surgical abortion 100%, but that would require waiting another 2-3 weeks. When I make a decision, I don't want to waste any time. I was lucky that I had the hundreds of dollars it cost to do the medical option.
I've had two kids since, but back then I would say a medical abortion was the most painful thing I went through mostly because I threw up the pain medicine and I have a history of excruciating menstrual cramps.
Over the years I worried that I would be "punished" for having an abortion and would never be able to get pregnant. I was so scared that I even used fertility treatment (IUI) to conceive my son. My daughter, on the other hand, was not planned. Goes to show you, it only takes one sexual act to make a baby and sometimes it makes no sense when it happens. You can spend years and years of your life actively trying to avoid getting pregnant or years and years trying to conceive a child. Sometimes you can be stupid and get away with it. Other times you can do everything right and still nothing happens.
I am terrified for my daughter. The thought that she could live in a state that bans abortion after 6 weeks or that requires waiting periods or parental consent just infuriates me.
Whether it's legal or not, women will find a way to end a pregnancy. I had a friend who tied her best to induce a miscarriage with herbs. Sadly, it didn't work and she ended up needed to go through with a surgical procedure. I had another friend in college who was considering an abortion after an unexpected pregnancy and while she was still debating what to do she had a miscarriage. I thought that only happened on soap operas.
I'm strongly and vocally prochoice on social media and my website. My close friends know that I've had an abortion. My daughter knows. However, I have purposefully never announced publicly on social media or on my website that I have had an abortion myself. I have friends and colleagues who I know are antichoice and I didn't want to offend them or be judged by them. I can't stay silent any longer. I can't worry that people will unfriend me or unlike me or try to convince me that I made a horrible mistake and will go to hell if I don't confess my sin and ask for forgiveness from God.
I actually did the whole confession thing. I told the priest who officiated the Catholic wedding ceremony about my abortion and my penance was to do something life-affirming. I donated blood.
If anyone would like to hear more about my story and what it's like to get a medical abortion, I am available online.
It's scary to be public about something so personal, but it's also vital that women who have had abortions tell their stories so others know they are not alone.
Thanks to "We Testify" for encouraging women to tell their stories.