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Pulling into the abortion clinic you were there to greet me after my hour-and-a-half long drive across the state line. You glared at my boyfriend and I through the window of my car. He rashly opened the window to hear your opinion and take your pamphlet. You thought your cause had hope, but you were wrong. My uterus already held a dead fetus—too late to be saved.
Rewind to the day before.
You were not there to greet us as we pulled into the clinic. I thought, all those picketers I see in the media must not actually be so obtrusive. I went ahead to complete the first steps of my abortion without your nagging. Don’t feel let down though, even if you were there to hand me a pamphlet, I would have done it anyway. Even my boyfriend’s manipulation could not stop what you call, my “evil intention.”
We came to the clinic not having much of an idea about what was to happen. I was handed a schedule as I signed in and found out that much of the day would be spent waiting. We waited in a room full of other young women, some with their partners, some with their moms, most by themselves. Nobody talked. Each time I completed a step on the agenda—paperwork, blood work, payment, counseling, and so forth—I was consumed by more nervousness and guilt. This guilt came from my boyfriend. He told me numerous times that if I went through with it, he would walk home. I would never see him again. He would commit suicide. Nevertheless, at the end of the day I went into the office and they gave me (…the fetus) the shot.
Three months prior, after taking a pregnancy test, I told my boyfriend the news. I told him I planned to get an abortion. I was prepared for a discussion but not for protest. Immediately, and many times over the ensuing months, he threatened my plan with suicide. He forced me into denial—I did not believe I was pregnant, or at least I pretended I was not. I waited until I could not wait anymore, and that was nearly too late. I did not know how far along I was, but I knew I would not be eligible for most clinics, if any at all. Fortunately, I found a clinic.
What if I had not?
One of two possibilities would have transpired. First, I could have birthed an unhealthy baby because of neglect for prenatal health before and during pregnancy. I would not have loved this baby as much as I should. I would have provided poor care to this baby due to immaturity and low income. The second possibility would have been that I took my life and, in turn, the baby’s. Which outcome would you have preferred?
Would you have been willing to adopt the baby, provide me nourishment during my pregnancy, and have been able to repair all of my altered relationships had I endured the pregnancy? If not, then you should have dropped your sign, put down your pamphlets, and left me the hell alone. If you, personally, could not fulfill any of those requests, then you had no right to stand in my face and tell me what to do. I did not care about your opinion, as you did not care about me.
Dear picketer, here is how you can help. Be a good parent to your children and talk to them about sex. Break the ice and have honest, thoughtful discussions about sex and puberty. Teach them that pregnancy does not just happen to others. Enable your children to make educated decisions. Make sure, that no matter what they do, they stay protected. Expand this practice into your community, make these discussions happen world wide.
If we create a world in which our bodies are loved, in which sex is nothing to be ashamed of, then we can have honest and comfortable conversations between parent and child, educator and student. This will result in far fewer unintended pregnancies, which may lead to a decrease in abortions. You might not realize, but about a quarter of women will have an abortion*–these women could be your daughters, sisters, partners, etc.
I did not want to get pregnant. I did not want to get an abortion. Nobody wants to get an abortion. Abortion is an action I took because I was cornered and had nowhere else to turn to. If you want to help me, or my dead child, give me a world where I could have told my mom I was pregnant. Give me a world in which I could have told my mom I was having sex. Give me a world in which my mom and my community taught me to be comfortable in my body.
I forgive you for your protest.
You come from your environment—an environment, our culture, which actually led to my abortion. It is because of feminism that I forgive you and acknowledge your opinion; it is your right. However, you will not make change greeting me with a pamphlet. If you want a world with no abortion, address the problems before their inception. Make a cultural change.