I had checkmarks in many of the boxes that people often argue are grounds for an abortion. I was underage, in an abusive relationship, and technically a victim of statutory rape. At sixteen, stances on abortion were irrelevant to me, but it felt like I only had one choice. A choice that felt predetermined by the people around me.
The appointment was all scheduled. Wednesday afternoon, my older sister had planned to pick me up from school and drive me to the appointment she had scheduled for me. All day my nerves were high, and something just didn't feel right. I sat through study hall watching the clock. Usually, by this time, I’d be daydreaming about which songs I’d listen to on my MP3 player for the bus ride home. Not today. Today, all I could think about was my upcoming visit to the abortion clinic.
From Teenager to Toxic Romance
Rewind to six weeks before, when my best friend and I were strolling around our favorite shopping plaza like we so often did. Only this time was different, because instead of commencing our trip with lunch at Panera, we found ourselves in the bathrooms at Target, gawking at two positive pregnancy tests that I had just taken.
My friend was acutely aware of the Romeo and Juliet-like romance that had plagued my life for the last two years. She had a front row seat to all of the drama, though I’m not sure if she realized how much I cherished these carefree times with her, wandering around stores, sipping frappuccinos, and laughing hysterically at just about everything.
I was in a toxic, illegal, innocence-ruining relationship with someone who majored in manipulation.
These times made me feel like an ordinary teenager. Not like the girl whose boyfriend was in college two hours away. Who had been to jail more than once, most recently for statutory rape. Not like the girl who was constantly lying to her parents and sneaking around just to see him because of the restraining order that kept us apart. Most girls in my school were on their parents' cellphone plan, but he recruited me onto his own plan so that my parents couldn't get in the way of our communication, although he would often disconnect my service himself when he was upset with me. Everyone would call me naive, but I swore it was love. The truth was, I was in a toxic, illegal, innocence-ruining relationship with someone who majored in manipulation.
Pro-Choice…or One Choice?
After the Target tests, I knew I had to follow up with my actual doctor. Maybe these cheap store-bought tests aren't accurate, I told myself. I wasn’t very acquainted with my Ob/Gyn but had visited a few times before regarding severe PMS pain, which is what I explained to my mom as my reason for needing to go again.
When the nurse took me back, I confessed to her that I was actually there because of a positive pregnancy test. My confession seemed to wake her from her routine mode when she paused and didn't know what to say.
She asked me to give a urine sample in order to confirm the result. I obliged and was then brought into an exam room to wait for what seemed like forever. I hadn't mentioned anything about seeking an abortion yet. I was just there to get answers. That's why I was so confused when the doctor finally came and coldly greeted me by saying, “I understand you have a problem and you’d like to take care of it.” She spoke confidently as if she truly believed she had graced me with the solution to all of my problems.
The doctor spoke so confidently about abortion being the solution that any questions I had felt silly.
I wasn’t sure how to respond, because it was clear she intended for the question to be rhetorical, as if any alternatives weren't even worth discussing. She went on to explain how common the abortion procedure is and that it was my best option. Any questions I had now felt silly and irrelevant. In fact, this wasn’t a question and answer session but more like a long-winded sales pitch, leveraging my fear and pushing me to “act now.” To say her bedside manner needed work would be an understatement. I walked out of that office more confused than before.
This secret that I’d kept for a couple of weeks was now officially confirmed. I needed some trusted advice and direction. Being the youngest, I naturally confided in my older sister, something I often did. I knew how she felt about my boyfriend, so it didn’t surprise me when she agreed with what my doctor had proposed. I trusted my sister and knew she only wanted what she believed was best for me. Even though I still wasn't fully on board, she made the idea a little easier to swallow. With my hesitant nod of approval, she went ahead and made the call.
The day of my appointment had come, and I couldn't shake this feeling of dread. I mean, I’m sure nobody has ever been excited about such an appointment, but everything inside me was screaming “Don’t!” All their logic ran through my head. It was obvious to anyone that abortion would certainly be the easier route, but why did that mean it was the only route?
An hour before my appointment, I told my sister I didn’t want to go anymore. I knew she would disagree with my choice, and it felt strange not to heed her advice since I valued it so much, but it was also freeing to think for myself. I still wasn’t officially sure what I was going to do; I can't say abortion was off the table yet, but I knew it wasn’t a decision to be made lightly.
Beauty from Dark Times
I finally let my mom in on my secret, and after freaking out and vowing swift revenge on my boyfriend, she eventually calmed down. She was thankful that I hadn't followed through with my original appointment and offered to bring me to another type of clinic called Compass Care, that specialized in helping girls with unplanned pregnancies. While my former Ob/Gyn made her case for abortion based on fear, this clinic simply presented me with the reality happening inside me. There was a heartbeat that I could hear, and a squirming bean on the monitor that I could see. Of course, I was still scared, maybe even more so. But this type of scared was the kind that felt worth it. Choosing this path might not be free of hardship, but it was the only one with a happy ending for everybody involved.
Choosing this path might not be free of hardship, but it was the only one with a happy ending for everybody.
If I had fallen in line with the idea that choosing life was alternatively a death sentence for myself, then my son wouldn’t be 12 years old right now, playing basketball in our driveway, teaching his sister how to shoot. He wouldn’t amaze us every day with his artistic abilities or make us laugh with his old-soul type of humor. It hurts my heart to think of all that might not have been if I had just accepted the paradigm and not pushed through.
Today I realize that abortion would not only have ended my pregnancy but would’ve given up on all the potential beauty that would come from such a trial. Isn’t that the exact definition of abort? To give up, to fail? Where else in life do we encourage women to give up? Why is it acceptable here? It’s insulting to women to insist that giving up is more feasible than rising above and pressing on, even in the darkest of times.
My own brush with abortion makes me wonder how many other girls and women have this same experience. How often do pregnancies end because of pressure, fear, or misinformation? How sad to think women are being robbed of the chance to witness the beautiful potential of the life inside them because they’ve been convinced that it will ruin their own.
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