There was a drugstore on The Drag that my roommate and I used for everything, but no way I was getting a pregnancy test there. What if I saw a sorority sister or classmate? In fact, all of west Campus was out. Hyde park was close, but even though we weren't grad students, we know some, and ditto on the freakout what-if-someone-see- us bit. We drive to far North Austin to get the test, and just to be sure, we buy 2.
Back at our apartment I couldn't pee. I drank glass after glass of water, but nothing, so we decided to smoke some pot and listen to some music. As we settled in and began to get high, the current issue floated away. We started talking about normal stuff...Jen's boyfriend, the two guys I was dating, assignments that were coming due, our upcoming work schedule, a band we liked, and suddenly I had to pee. My eyes must have widened cause Jen was immediately aware in a change of tune, this is serious business. “Gotta pee? Want me to hold the stick?” she asks before collapsing in a fit of giggles, ok so maybe this was serious business, but we were only 19. I manage to go the bathroom, successfully pee on the stick and walk back in the living room to wait. 10 minutes is all it takes to tell me what we should have figured out days ago; I'm pregnant. Holy shit.
I was raised Catholic, but I hadn't been to mass in months and I'm not certain I'm actually Catholic. Educated in Catholic schools, I can recite doctrine, encyclicals, and assorted prayers backward and forward, but I was also taught to think and search and question. My high school Theology classes taught me the Hebrew word ruah means both breath and spirit, and so I held (hold) a belief shared with early Christians that life begins at birth, at breath.This spiritual idea, combined with the science of fetal growth, pregnancy, and birth that I remembered from health classes in high school, made abortion a viable option for me. In theory.
To this day. my mother is super anti-chioce, I mean, she pickets outside of of clinics where abortions are available, she says things like, “We saved a baby this month”, she attends “pro-life” conferences, she really really believes she is doing what's right. And it was the last thing that was the hardest for me back then. Because although I knew what I knew, in my mother's eyes, I'd be “killing a baby”. How could I have an abortion? My mother would die. Plus, it's 1997 so although abortion has been legal for decades, it's still a taboo subject. Hell, it's still taboo in 2013. What would people think? What if I could never again get pregnant? Would I get kicked out of my sorority if someone found out?
After the first test was positive, we did the second one. Positive too, so it seemed I really was pregnant. I was 19 and a student, for crying out loud, but for the first time ever, I have to think grown up things and make grown up decisions. I was working at the time, but a student job, giving tours at the state capitol. My job plus my student loans and scholarships paid tuition, books, and bills, but I had no money for fun stuff, how could I pay for another person? After two days of thinking it over, and taking into consideration my family, my mother, I decided I should terminate the pregnancy. At the time I conceived, I was dating (read sleeping with) two different boys, and so I did what I thought was right and told each of them (separately) the situation, allowing them to voice their feelings on what was happening. They each told me it was my decision and they would support whatever I chose. I can't speak for them but I think they were both ok with our decision.
I looked up a clinic in the yellow pages, made an appointment for a Friday, and that was that. I don't really remember the procedure, but I remember going with Jen and one if the guys I was dating. I remember the waiting room and getting into the gown. I talked to a nurse ( I had done that the day before too), and she declared I was mentally ok to make this decision and I got the anesthetic. I laid back, a doctor came in, legs in stirrups, procedure happens, I remember being woozy and falling asleep and then waking up 30 minutes later, still woozy. My friends helped me to the car, took me home, took care of me and 48 hours later I was back on my feet.
I won't say I didn't have any emotional fallout from the abortion, because I did, but not fallout about the abortion. It brought to a head the fact that I was dating two guys and both of them would have preferred us to be exclusive.
I had (and have) no emotional issues related to the medical procedure I chose to have to in the spring of 1997. I've told a handful of people that I had an abortion; serious relationships, good friends, ridiculously insensitive people that I wanted to prove a point to, but otherwise I never think about it all. I saw a movie on LMN a couple of years ago about a girl who chose abortion and freaked out and what not. At the end, before the credits, they flashed a hotline number, “If you've had an abortion and need to talk, or are thinking of having one, call us” and I thought, “Huh, I have no issue with my choice, does that mean something is wrong with me?”.
But there's nothing wrong with me. In 2009, 784,507 women had abortions , from all races and religions. Abortion, in the US, has been legal since 1973, which means about 16.1 million women have had abortions as of 2012, yet when abortion is discussed you hear only of the handful of women for whom it caused (or possibly exasperated) issues. Why don't we ever hear abortion “success stories”?
I've been thinking about this question over the last few days, as I see my state legislators trying to take away a woman’s right to choose in Texas. Why don't we hear their stories? I think the answer is simply because we ARE success stories. We have gone on to be educated, get married, have children, pursue careers and WE ARE FINE.
There are judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, pilots, army specialists, congresswomen, professors, social workers, surgeons, nurses, scientists, and countless others who would not have been able to make their contribution to society, in the same way, if they had had no choice. So, for that 19 year old girl in Austin, and College Station, and Lubbock, and all the towns and cities in Texas...so she won't lose her rights, I'm coming out. I had an abortion. And my life wouldn't have been the same if I hadn't.