EDITOR’S NOTE: Trust Women Week overlaps with the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and reasserts our firm commitment to reclaiming the future of reproductive decision-making in 2012. Throughout the week, Amplify will be honoring women’s experiences and voices by featuring a different story from The 1 in 3 Campaign January 21-27.
DEB: So my story is probably pretty similar to many other women’s stories. I was 35 years old. The year was 1995. I had been married for two and a half years and I had a six month old.
I was the primary bread-winner in our family. I had a good job and had been working. I had taken some maternity leave and was back at work. My husband had a new job. He was a financial planner and had just started. There were some problems in our marriage, when I looked back. But when it really came to be an issue was one day in August of ’95, my husband went to work and he never came home. And the days passed and he didn’t come back. And I called around and I couldn’t find him. The weeks passed, and every day I went to work and every day I came home and took care of my six month old infant.
Eventually, I got a phone call form a friend who said that they had heard from someone else that my husband was in Atlantic City and he had borrowed someone’s car and had pretty much totaled it. And they suggested that I go to the bank and check my bank account, which I proceeded to do, and realized that my husband had basically wiped us out.
It was about three days later that I realized I was pregnant.
I just knew that there was no way that I could have a second child and continue to work and support my son. I didn’t know what was going to happen with my marriage and I didn’t have any money left. So I found a clinic in my area – it was very good and well-reputable – and I decided that it was the best thing for me to do for my son and I… Was to have the abortion and terminate the pregnancy and really be there to focus on raising my son and figuring out what to do in my marriage. I really believe to this day that it was the most responsible action that I could take – and I was forever grateful that there was a clinic that was safe and affordable and that abortion was legal and that I could access it at the time.
There is such a stigma to abortion and to being able to talk about our experiences. I think people – women in particular – have been shamed about those choices. And yet so many of us have those experiences. It’s really important – and I should say really freeing – to finally talk about our experiences. Having shared this story now a couple of times, I feel relief about letting other people know what happened to me, and I’ve heard other people tell me that it’s happened to them. And we need to talk about it. We need to have a conversation about abortion that’s personal. One in three of us have had abortions, according to the statistics, and we really do need to talk about that.
The 1 in 3 Campaign is a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion — telling our stories, on our own terms. Together, we can end the stigma women face each and every day and assure access to basic health care. As we tell our stories and support our family and friends as they come forward with theirs, we begin build a culture of compassion, empathy, and support. No one should be made to feel ashamed or alone. It’s time for us to come out in support of each other and in support of access to legal and safe abortion care in our communities.
It’s time to start the conversation.