This story is published at Shout Your Abortion.
It is hard for me to write about my abortions because I want to defend my decisions, but I am also so very angry that these decisions, above all others, seem to require defense.
I can tell you that I was too young to be a parent when I got pregnant for the first time during my freshman year of college. I can tell you that I had severe postpartum depression after the birth of my first child, and had very real reasons to think that giving birth to any additional children would do serious damage to my mental health, as well as damage to my marriage and to my ability to parent the child I already had. I can tell you about the failures of multiple birth control methods.
Or I can tell you that I simply didn’t want to give birth to any children except the one that I had.
My first abortion, at age 18, was surgical, and it was more physically difficult and invasive than all the subsequent terminations, which were done by pill. But the first one was also—by definition—my only abortion, and there was comfort in believing that it would always be my only. One mistake can happen to anyone. Plus, I was 18.
Sixteen or so years later, I finally had my second accident. That decision was harder. I found out I was pregnant when hCG hormones were detected in a blood test taken to diagnose something entirely unrelated to reproduction, on a Monday in June, on my husband’s first day at a new job. The next day, a beloved family member was diagnosed with lung cancer. The day after that, Wednesday, our computer crashed, taking the first three months of my daughter’s baby photos with it. On Thursday I was told I was being let go from my job as an attorney.
Did I mention the postpartum depression, the unresolved health issues that had me getting blood tests in the first place, and that fact that my husband and I were, in fact, using condoms correctly and consistently? It was not a good week. And yet, it was a difficult decision. I didn’t want to be a woman who has multiple abortions. One is a mistake; two is a pattern. Plus, I was 34, happily married, living in a three-bedroom apartment, and doing pretty well financially— even when taking the layoff into account. If we wanted to, we could have made it work. But I didn’t want to.
In the end, it was that simple. And my following three unwanted pregnancies were hardly decisions at all. We had already decided that we were a family of three, and we planned to stay that way.
I am incredibly grateful to my husband, who said he didn’t give a shit what anyone thought (even hypothetically) and that we should—I should—do what made us happy. I am grateful to my best friend, also 34 and married, but who very much wanted a second child of her own, who got the “I’m pregnant”phone call and still responded,“I… is that a good thing, or not so much?” And I am grateful to Planned Parenthood, who only wanted to know if I was making the decision while of sound mind and without unwanted pressure.
The thing that pisses me off most about people who would judge me for my abortions is the utter lack of respect it displays for the child and family I actually have. If I had continued with my pregnancy back in college, I would not have my daughter, this daughter. Even if I’d had more hypothetical children in that alternate universe, it is mathematically certain that her life would not have come into being. And keeping any of the unplanned—and unwanted—pregnancies that followed her birth would have changed me as a parent, and therefore changed her life as well.
Why is that hypothetical child more valuable than the one that exists at this very real moment?
I am a woman who has had multiple abortions. It turns out, that changes me not at all. People who read this may judge me, but the ones who meet me in real life would never see it coming. I’m not irresponsible, a child-hater, or any of the things they say about those who are pro- choice and those who have abortions. I’m still happily married, still blissfully a mom. My only fleeting regret was that I was briefly made to feel like I should regret choosing the course of my own life.
Fuck that noise, am I right?