I am pro-choice. I will always be pro-choice. None of my experiences will ever change that.
My problem? My abortion wasn’t a choice. I was forced into it by socioeconomic hardship. It’s been four years, and I still struggle with the emotional pain.
My partner has extremely low sperm count and very low testosterone levels; he had been told years before we met that he could not “naturally” conceive. We weren’t using birth control because we didn’t anticipate an unplanned pregnancy. It happened anyway.
We were coping with extreme poverty– both of us were under-employed; working for minimum wage ($5.95 per hour at the time) for a total of 15 hours a week each. We were seeking full-time work every day but couldn’t find it. We were shelling out $800 per month for a studio apartment and couldn’t qualify for food stamps because they require all adults to work 20 hours a week or more.
This wasn’t typical young-America poverty; this was the real thing. We had to steal toilet paper from public bathrooms and we washed our clothes in a bathroom sink. At one point, I lost my toothbrush and had to use a wet rag for about a week because I couldn’t come up with a dollar to buy a new one.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a good time to have a baby– but we were (and are) in love with each other and we had a lot of love to give a child. I don’t view fertilized eggs as human beings, but I developed a very strong attachment to my embryo as soon as I saw the two pink lines on the test. I didn’t want an abortion. I wanted a baby.
I tried to turn to my friends and family for help, but I wasn’t surprised that none of them responded well. I have a very tense relationship with my mother. When I said, “I need to talk to you,” she responded by saying, “Do you have AIDS?” I told her no. She was only slightly less upset to hear that I was pregnant. She offered me $200 to have an abortion, but wouldn’t offer me any money to have a baby.
She pointed out that I had no health insurance. I said that I could
qualify for Medicaid since I was pregnant. She said I’d be carrying my
baby into a “ghetto clinic full of gold-toothed n****s” and would
probably get assaulted on my way out. She called me trash. She told me
that I was nothing more than an aspiring welfare-mama and that my chlid
would be a leech on society.
My partner is an abuse survivior, as well. When we told his father,
he called me a whore and asked who I was screwing because “my son sure
as Hell wasn’t the one who knocked you up”. He told me and my partner
that he wasn’t going to “play grandpappy” for my bastard child. He
offered to pay for an abortion. He offered to cover DNA testing to prove
that my partner wasn’t the father. He didn’t offer to help us with the
Desperate for some way to find help so we could carry the
pregnancy to term, I went to a crisis pregnancy center. They didn’t
offer me any financial or material resources. No help with rent, no
medical care, no breast pumps or WIC information. Instead, they gave me a
bunch of slut-shaming hand-outs and false information about the dangers
We wanted to have a baby. By the time I made my decision and accepted
my mother’s money to terminate the pregnancy, I was very attached to
the pregnancy. I dreamed every night about nursing and rocking my baby
in a warm living-room, moonlight streaming through the curtains. I
dreamed about a beautiful natural birth attended by a midwife. I dreamed
about falling in love with my baby and being a wonderful mother. My
partner fell asleep every night with his hand over my womb, and I knew
it was what he wanted, too. But that wasn’t the course that was set out
At nine weeks, I had my abortion. Because everyone knows I’m
pro-choice, none of my friends or family members– besides my partner–
seemed to understand my agony. I was horribly depressed for several
months. I bled a lot. I couldn’t have sex for months because I was so
traumatized by all of it.
It’s been four years. We’re much more financially stable. We
both have full-time, lucrative jobs and we’re looking into buying a
house. Two years ago, we stopped using birth control. We haven’t
I feel guilty every day for terminating the pregnancy, because–
rationally or otherwise– I can’t help but feel like the pregnancy was a
miracle. And it was a miracle we may never be able to repeat.
I know that a lot of my fellow feminists would react rationally– it
wasn’t the right time, we couldn’t afford a baby, we can always adopt,
maybe we should look into IVF. But it’s not the same. I wanted the first
embryo I conceived. We wanted to have a baby together, and we wanted it
to be OUR choice.
I’m posting this because I want other feminists to know that the
right to abortion isn’t always a right to choose. I also want the
people who call themselves “pro-life” to understand that pregnant women
don’t need slut-shaming information or guilt– they need financial help.
I had an abortion, but I wasn’t the one who chose it. Society chose
it for me. In my ideal feminist world, my partner and I would have been
able to find the support we needed to “choose life”. Instead, we were
forced into a choice that neither of us wanted.
Maybe regretting my aboriton isn’t the feminist thing to do. Maybe
it’s not okay that I was attached to a clump of cells in the vague shape
of an embyro. Maybe it’s not okay that the pain of abortion still
hurts, four years layer. But it still hurts– feminist or not. I would
have been a good mother.