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I believe in reproductive freedom...

October 5, 2016

“I believe in reproductive freedom.

 

I believe in the right to choose.

 

I believe in abortion on demand, and without apology.

 

Women’s rights, especially abortion rights, are intensely important to me. It is crucial that women have the right to determine their own future and make decisions about their own bodies. This issue is close to my heart because I have had an abortion, and I’m forever grateful that I had a choice; that terminating a pregnancy was an option for me.

 

In the fall of 2013 I unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant. I couldn’t remember the date of my last menstrual cycle and thought I might be a little late. One morning I took a pregnancy test just to make sure I was not pregnant. That test came back positive.

 

At the time I was dating a man who was heavily addicted to injecting narcotic pain pills and alcohol, as well as dodging court fines and probation in a neighboring state. I was also taking opiates, only I was not using intravenously and I was using in lesser quantities. However, upon finding out I was pregnant, I quit taking any substances and I quit smoking shortly thereafter.

 

The night I told my boyfriend I was pregnant, he reassured me, and then proceeded to borrow my car and my money to go get high. During the next month or two, he would lie about where he was going and disappear with my car for hours. He would also steal my money while I was in the bathroom throwing up as a result of pregnancy symptoms.

 

Initially, I was going to continue with the pregnancy. I made efforts to get pregnancy medicaid and any other help I could find. I was a server at a slow restaurant, and my boyfriend only did cash work occasionally, leaving me as the primary provider. The pregnancy became increasingly difficult. I was sick and nauseous from morning to night every day. My chronic pain that was already present was even worse. But I was determined to deal with the illnesses and get through it.

 

A month or two later I was barely able to work at all. I was pregnant and supporting my boyfriend and myself, and stressed out financially, mentally, and physically. His drug use was progressing. He received a letter from another state regarding his probation. It stated that if he did not pay them the money he owed (a few thousand dollars) by the end of the month, that he would go to prison for the original sentence which was two years. He was adamant about not doing any time, saying that he would flee to Colorado where they wouldn’t extradite him. It became apparent that I would be forced to carry on alone, as a single mother after childbirth. He would either be living in another state, in prison in the neighboring state, or generally too mentally unhealthy to be a parent.

 

I realized that I couldn’t do this alone. I didn’t have financial support from anyone and I could no longer work. I was extremely ill. I have mental health issues as well and taking care of myself is a full time job. I had kicked my boyfriend out because I was tired of him stealing from me and lying to me. I called a family member to tell them that I decided that I needed an abortion. They agreed to help because they knew that I wasn’t ready or able to take care of a child.

 

I contacted a clinic in Tulsa because it was the closest I could find to Northwest Arkansas (yet still two hours away). They required two appointments; the first to discuss my options and the procedure, and the next appointment to perform it. It would have required two trips to Tulsa, along with several hundred dollars. I decided to contact Little Rock Family Planning Services. They did not require a pre-procedure appointment. The clinic was approximately three hours away. The abortion would cost $750. Two family members agreed to help by splitting the cost. One of them drove to Northwest Arkansas to pick me up and drive me to Little Rock so I would know that the person who drove me supported my decision. I am thankful to the family members that helped me in this difficult time.

 

The procedure was quick and painless. I was mildly sedated but still conscious. Before I knew it I was on my way home.

 

I owe LRFPS so much. I am forever grateful for their kindness and medical expertise. I was confident I made the right decision, and I’m still confident of that today.

 

I do not, in any way, regret my abortion. Do I regret getting myself into the situation in the first place? Yes. But it was a valuable lesson that taught me a few critical things. It showed me that I wasn’t ready for a child, and that having a child with a man would not make him stick around. Shortly after that I realized that I don’t particularly desire to have children. But the decision to terminate the pregnancy was the smartest thing I could have done for myself, and the healthiest.

 

I look back at that time and realize that if I would have carried that pregnancy to term, my life would have been extremely difficult, even more so than it already is. I suffer from chronic pain and mental illness. I filed for disability a year ago due to an inability to work full time. I absolutely made the right choice for myself.

 

So for all women, I demand abortion when needed, with no apology. Women don’t need a “good excuse” to have an abortion. Any reason is a valid reason. Bodily autonomy is so incredibly important and necessary for women’s equality and well-being. We know what decision is right for us, and no politician should be capable of altering or restricting that choice. Roe v. Wade was a battle that was won, but the war is ongoing. There are new abortion restrictions popping up in several states. It’s alarming, but it’s why I continue to fight for women and their right to choose.

 

I’m speaking my own truth and personal story so other women know that they aren’t alone, and they have control over their own reproductive health. I share this information so that women who may have to make a difficult decision in the future know they can come to me, and that I will help in any way that I can, because everyone has a right to the medical help that they need.”  

—Kathleen

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