“I share this story now to help end the stigma around abortion, and to help end the silence of millions of women who have had abortions. ‘Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.’
This is my story. It is not your story to tell, and I am taking it back. I do not consent to your attempts to change or end my story to fit your narrative of how I should be, or how my life should be.
When I was 20 I had an abortion. The pregnancy was accidental; the birth control failed. I was a student at the University of Michigan studying poetry. The procedure was entirely voluntary and not based on medical necessity. My friends came from North Carolina to help me through it. I missed two days of school and spent at least $500 on the procedure itself and associated medical visits.
I had the abortion because I had become pregnant *by accident* and did not want to have a child. I have never told my parents or family; if they read this it is the first they will know of it.
Opponents of abortion rights would love for you to think that women who have abortions suffer for their choice, and that they feel the need to justify their choice to themselves or to others, or that they are “scarred for life.” Nothing could be further from the truth for me.
I have never felt that I needed to justify my decision to anyone. It was my choice and I made it correctly. I was NOT traumatized by it. I was grateful and relieved. I finished school with stellar grades and got on with my life. I travelled, worked, and went back to school. Now I am in law school.
If I had had the child, chances are that I would never have had many experiences that have enriched my life immeasurably: spending 7 months traveling in South America. Working for an environmental non-profit organization in Tucson. Writing for an anti-poverty magazine. Hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The goal of a society should be to allow its members the maximum amount of freedom and self-determination possible. My right to have an abortion is integral to my right to self-determination - my constitutional guarantee to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Any other perspective is rooted in sex/gender discrimination. This is why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did in Roe v. Wade.
I have never regretted my choice for a single moment. My choice has brought me relief and happiness. I have *never* wondered with longing or sadness, what would the child have looked like? Would he have had my eyes? His hair? No.
The man who got me pregnant was NOT ready to be a father. We did not have a good relationship and we are no longer together. I look back on my choice as one of the best decisions I have ever made. Had I not, I would either be trapped in an unhappy relationship today with a man I did not love, or I would be divorced.
Any way you look at it, abortion helped me avoid negative life outcomes. These words are the words of the life you take away when you vote or advocate to end abortion rights.
Do not mourn for my unborn child. It was not your child to mourn for. Instead, mourn for the many women around the world who are denied the right to self-determination, and their children who suffer for it. I was not ready to be a mother and would not have done a good job. Children and families are better off when the mother is financially and emotionally capable of caring for a child before she has it.
And don’t tell me, “well, you shouldn’t have had sex at all in the first place if you didn’t want to get pregnant.” That’s why we have birth control.
I used to be vegetarian. You should be vegetarian too, because animal cruelty is terrible. I ride my bike everywhere. You should too, because driving makes you fat and pollutes the atmosphere. I work for a non-profit. You should too, because your corporate job is destroying the planet.
I would never say these things to you. Yet, somehow, you think it’s acceptable to regulate what I do with my body, when, how, and with whom. You would like to call me a slut. You would like to demonize my sexual freedom. But your portrayal, your mental image of me as an “enemy,” as a “murderer,” as the “other,” only rots your own soul.
We are all one, and I respect your decision to have a child if you want to. But I don’t subscribe to your religious admonitions to wait until marriage for sex. This is a free country. Denying abortion rights to women is cruel, oppressive, and inhuman.
I am NOT writing this to justify my decision - I know I made the right decision. I am writing it because the 18-year-old version of me is freaking out right now. And if she accidentally gets pregnant while she is in college, she might not have access to a legal, safe, affordable abortion. She might have to break the law to get one. She might have to spend thousands of dollars and miss days or weeks of school or work to travel to another state. She might attempt to self-abort and inflict irreversible physical harm on herself.
Today, I despair for the future of my 20-year-old self. That is why I write this - in the hopes of changing at least one mind for the better. In the hopes of convincing even just one person that my 20-year-old self’s life matters. And that she deserves the right to live her life, make her mistakes, pay for them, and learn from them. That the course of her life should not be determined by her reproductive capability.
People have been having sex since the beginning of time. We are biologically programmed to want to have sex because it is how our species reproduces. Opponents of abortion rights would like for us to ignore this truth.
Moreover, women have been aborting fetuses since there have been people. Opponents would also like for us to forget that there are just as many reasons to abort a fetus as there are women. Opponents of abortion rights would like to put the “rights” of an unborn fetus inside me above my right to determine whether or not I want to have a child.
Life is not an ultimate good at any cost. Allowing abortion to remain safe, legal, and affordable puts our children first, because it enables mothers to have a greater degree of control over their lives and their children’s lives. The unborn child that I aborted would have been much worse off than the hypothetical child I will have in the future, after I become a lawyer with a secure job, with health insurance, and with a partner with whom I have a strong, loving relationship.
QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN QUANTITY.
How many lives have been immeasurably improved by abortion? One right here - two if you count my former partner. Three if you count my current partner. Three more if you count my parents and my brother, who haven’t had to financially/emotionally support me through the trials and tribulations of raising a child in my 20s. And many, many more if you count the people I have helped through friendships and work. Quality over quantity.
Yet you would depress the quality of ALL of our lives, just to have one more person inhabit the earth, if you had your way. What do you think gives you the right to determine the quality of my life, and the lives of my family members? What gives you the right to undermine our dedicated efforts to make the world a better place?
Keep your church out of our laws. Keep your religious beliefs away from my rights. Keep abortion legal, safe, and affordable.” —Katherine