1 in 4 American women have had an abortion.
Do you know four women?
You probably know 40 women, at least.
How many abortion stories have you heard?
How many times have you told your own?
After trying to get pregnant for over a year—month after month of peeing on sticks, taking temps, obsessing over every flutter and squelch with letdown after letdown after letdown—I finally conceived in July 2018. We were over the moon and Mars too, though we didn’t tell anyone, you know, just in case.
It all came crashing.
Eleven weeks in, we learned there was a problem. The fetus wasn’t growing right. Tests over weeks confirmed genetic anomalies that ensured profound disabilities, a laundry list of comorbidities and devastating uncertainty. There was a good chance she would never be able to walk, talk or eat on her own. It would be a life of surgeries and round-the-clock care, and this life would probably be short—provided I didn’t miscarry or deliver her already dead.
Our hearts were shattered. But proceeding with the pregnancy would guarantee mangled minds and devastating hardship, along with the likelihood that we wouldn’t have the time, money or emotional bandwidth to “try again.”
I was barely a mother—didn’t really think of myself as one, either, though in that year it was all that I longed for. But before I could even hold her in my arms, I was faced with a decision that only a mother can make—the choice to protect my child from pain.
So I did.
This impulse—and the medical evidence—were stronger than hoping on a miracle that maybe things wouldn’t be so bad. As an atheist, I wasn’t burdened with the dilemma of religious transgression, and lawd I gotta say… I’ve never been so grateful to not believe in god.
I didn’t have to wonder why he thought I could handle this.
I didn’t have to think he didn’t think of me at all.
Having an abortion was the worst, easiest decision I’ve ever made.
I couldn’t choose that life for my child.
I couldn’t do that to myself or to Arthur.
I had an abortion that October.
I don’t talk about it. It hurts, of course it hurts. Our society insists I should be ashamed, and I guess I sort of am, whether it makes sense or not. Or maybe I’m confusing shame with the unresolved grief American culture denies me. I did not belong in baby loss message boards. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day is not for me.
How could I be worthy of empathy and mourning?
I killed my baby.
It was the darkest place I have ever been.
But never do I doubt for a moment that my abortion was the right course of action. Half a year later, I was pregnant again, and in December the next year gave birth to a vibrant son. Two and a half years old now, he is the absolute light of our lives, and he would not exist without my choice.
My son would not exist without my choice.
The reversal of Roe v. Wade is as personal as it gets for me. My heart aches for the millions of women who no longer have the freedom to choose to be mothers or to not be mothers—to make the excruciating, loving choice to take away pain. The self-determination to decide the lesser agony. To grant ourselves the chance to try again.
We shot for viable.
We got pure light.
The same dumb science luck that buried us the year before brought us our beautiful son.
They call this movement Pro-Life? Really? What about his life? By abolishing this law, it’s like his life doesn’t matter. Existing or subsequent children are not part of the equation—the planned, the deferred, the fightin’ chance healthy. (And forbid a woman doesn’t want children at all.)
Now, worse than not being trusted to plan my own family and direct my own life, I’m not legally permitted my own body. I am not a person—only the potential to make more people. For all the things wrong with everything, that is some deep cult shit.
The news yesterday has ripped me open raw. I suspect most people I know who are mostly progressive entirely feel the same. If the story I’ve shared comes as a surprise, I envy your good fortune. If it comes as a shock, it’s time to wake up.