January 24, 2016

GUEST ROOM | My Abortion Story

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Editor’s Note: This story is being published anonymously for the safety and protection of the author and those involved. 

On November 27, a man stepped into a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. He killed three people and wounded nine others in the name of life. Exactly one week later, I stepped into the Planned Parenthood in Ithaca to have my abortion procedure.

I discovered my pregnancy just two days after the shooting, after missing a second period. The following morning, I went alone to the Ithaca Planned Parenthood. I needed an ultrasound to determine how far along I was. As an athlete, I miss periods a couple of times per year. Before I confirmed that I was pregnant, I had no other symptoms besides my two missed periods. I couldn’t even think of a time when it might have happened; in my memory there were no broken condoms, no sex without protection. I thought that I was nine or ten weeks along …

“Twelve weeks and four days.” “What?” “You are 12 weeks and four days pregnant.” Suddenly, I felt an enormous weight on my shoulders and lump in my throat; the alternative reality of carrying a baby to term became very real. The cutoff for a first trimester abortion procedure is 13 weeks, and the Ithaca Planned Parenthood is only staffed to carry out abortion procedures on Fridays. My last chance to have a first trimester abortion was that coming Friday when I would be at exactly 13 weeks.

The procedure that Friday was safe and easy, lasting only about 10 minutes; still, I hope that I never need to have it again. For one thing, though not particularly painful for me, it still involved a lot of things being put in my vagina that I never wanted in there. It’s very uncomfortable. For another thing, I don’t want to be in that situation again. While the abortion provided the solution to my situation, becoming pregnant was still a mistake, an accident.

And then it was done. I was no longer pregnant. I was out and about that evening. The next day I woke up early, worked for five hours in the morning, ran for and was elected to an executive board position in one of the organizations I’m involved with in the afternoon and helped with an event for my sports team that evening. I survived my finals and went home.

There is only one lingering effect from my abortion. While driving yesterday, I saw a car with a “Choose Life” license plate background and started crying. It’s not due to sadness or regret. It’s that my alternative reality, what truly could have happened to me, is all too real.

I pictured my body getting larger, forcing me to drop my sport. I saw my parents struggling with my medical expenses on top of sending me to school here, I watched my summer internship opportunities dwindle as I prepared to have a baby around the middle of June, a baby I wouldn’t be able to support, a baby I would have to give up for adoption, or give up my own future in order to be a mother.

It terrifies me that my story — where I received only support from those around me, I was able to get the abortion I needed when I needed it, I was not harassed and faced no adversity and I was able to carry on with the life I wanted to have — seems atypical; there are so many people who want to prevent anyone from having the care that I received.

It doesn’t matter to me what your religion is or what your personal values are. If you do not believe in abortion, don’t get one. Make sure your sex life reflects your values, too. But your values have no place in my uterus.

After my ultrasound, I asked to see the image. I went in knowing that I wanted to see it, though the reason why is complicated and somewhat beyond my own understanding. Sure enough, there was a grainy silhouette of a spherical head and oblong body, not at all in the shape of a child, but more than just a blob.

Perhaps this came through earlier, but I strongly desire to be a mother. I want to have kids and give them everything I can. My heart throbs when I see pregnant women or parents walking around with their children, and when I imagine my future family.

But I looked at the ultrasound image … and felt nothing. This was not meant to be my child. This was not my future. I know, I know that people can learn to love their mistakes. Maybe in another three months that image would have made my heart throb, too. But in that moment it made no difference and still doesn’t to me. I realized that having a child now, when I am in absolutely no place to support it, is the biggest risk to the future I want to give my children.

There is one important person I have not yet mentioned. Who was the guy? He’s my boyfriend. I knew he was amazing before, but he proved himself to be truly incredible during this process. He didn’t ask for a say in my decision to have the abortion and eased my stress instead of exacerbating it. Since then, our relationship has only grown stronger. He doesn’t understand how incredible this is to me; I expected, at minimum, that this would be a rocky point for us, but we remained smooth, steady and loving.

I supported Planned Parenthood before my abortion, but now I am a true believer. Before my abortion, I prepared myself for hate and judgment from even my loved ones, but now I pledge to return and pass on the incredible love and support they gave me. I am so happy to have regained control over my life and body. That is my abortion story.

  • The Other Side

    “there were no broken condoms”.
    I was the product of love
    “I pictured my body getting larger, forcing me to drop my sport”.
    True I am ruining your figure, and you are not able to run as fast nor jump as high
    “I saw my parents struggling with my medical expenses ”
    Mom, my grandparents would have been thrilled to bits in helping out, we’re family.
    “I watched my summer internship opportunities dwindle”.
    Yes I am a drain on your career aspirations, but hey it’s only for another 6 months.
    “but more than just a blob”.
    Ultrasound pictures are grainy at the best of times. Dehumanising me ,has happened with Black Americans in the United States, Jews during The Holocaust, and the Tutsi ethnic group during the Rwandan Genocide. I have a tongue, salivary glands, and taste buds and a heart which is pumping about twenty-five quarts of blood each day.
    “The procedure that Friday was safe and easy, lasting only about 10 minutes”.
    Not for me, even convicted criminals undergoing capital punishment do not endure a killing that takes this long.
    “it still involved a lot of things being put in my vagina…It’s very uncomfortable.”
    Imagine how my little heart began to beat faster when these implements of death started to scrape at my body.
    No anaesthetic for me, my body wanted to scream but no-one could hear.
    Planned parenthood gets another young victim.

    • Alum ’15

      You’re clearly ignorant of medical knowledge. The heart of the fetus is not fully developed at time of her abortion. Stop being so dramatic and get your facts straight.

      • Serena

        Get your reading comprehension skills right? Nowhere was it mentioned that it was a fully developed heart. But the heart does, in fact, pump blood throughout the baby’s body (to avoid argument, I’ll use your terminology of fetus from here on out.) I don’t think any of the responses were over the top, but were from the hypothetical aspect of the child, since this article is written from a woman’s perspective. The fetus does experience pain. The procedure is barbaric. It does end a life that would’ve been viable had it not been ripped out. It just depends on if you think that’s okay. I mean, it seems like it would make life a lot easier to kill a person that witnessed a crime that you committed, and you’d have the same thought process “oh my gosh, look at that ‘3 strikes equals 15 to life’ bumper sticker. That could’ve been me. I’m so glad I got rid of that problem.” But again, that’s my perspective because I consider the ending of an innocent life that would be viable if left alone (in most cases) and given care for the first few years of life…because let’s not pretend a newborn is viable without a caretaker anymore than a fetus…murder.

      • Abra

        A 3 year old is just as human as an 80 year old. They’re just at different stages of development. A zygote, embryo, fetus, etc has unique DNA, separate from his or her mother’s. When have you randomly decided is the cut off point for ending a life? 8 weeks? 12 weeks? 23 weeks? Right up until birth? Post birth? Babies need help after they’re born. They can’t survive on their own. Heck, toddlers can’t even survive on their own. Viability is your measuring stick? What about developmentally disabled people? A human is a human. Period. It doesn’t matter the circumstances of their conception. It doesn’t matter how poor the mother is. If those issues don’t justify killing a toddler, why do they justify killing the preborn? Follow the logic.

      • The Other Side

        Alum’15, you also have body parts not yet fully developed, your nose and ears are just three examples.

    • This is a pretty desperate attempt to shame someone you disagree with for taking a course of action you disagree with. There really ought not to be a need to post a story about undergoing a relatively minor medical procedure voluntarily. You are unfortunately proving it necessary

  • Anon

    I don’t really care what you do with your body, but put this into perspective. If I told you that here is a person who is in a coma for 6 months. They have no friends, family, or anyone that can help them. You can choose to take care of that person for the next 6 months and then never have to worry about them, or shoot them in the head and proceed on with your life. Which reality would you choose?

  • Anonymous

    I’m a mother of three girls and I love my children whole-heartedly. I applaud you for the decision you made. I hope that my girls never consider an abortion because I hope all of their pregnancies (if any) are planned and desired and that there are no medical reasons to choose abortion. I also fear that they won’t have access to legal, safe abortion should they need one. You might the right choice for you now and for your future family.

  • Pingback: Student is Glad She Aborted Her Baby: “It Helped Me Gain Control Over My Life and Body” | Arizanta Portal()

  • thank you

    I applaud your story. It’s a shame that women’s health is so stigmatized in this country that a young, ambitious, confident, responsible woman has to be fearful of sharing her story–it’s also a shame that those stories have to be told–that people cannot just accept that pregnancy is a health issue, that it is a truly traumatic event for a body that welcomes it, let alone one that doesn’t. Family planning should be thought of as every woman’s right–and I (a mother of a very planned, very wanted child who hated being pregnant and wouldn’t wish it on anyone who didn’t want to be) send you all the hopes for a very successful future.

  • mommom

    I’m going to give my daughter, who is adopted, a big hug and thank God for her biological parents.

  • George

    I assumed upon seeing the title that the point of this story was to make a political statement and of course, it was. My analogy is that I am opposed to high taxes. If you want high taxes, you are welcome to contribute as much as you want to the public treasury. But your values have no place interfering with my wallet.

  • A supporter

    Thank you for writing this. You make me proud to be an active supporter of Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes.

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  • Someone who has been there

    As someone who considered themselves pro life until I had my pregnancy scare, this hits me. Junior year I had missed two periods after spending fall break with my boyfriend back home. I want kids someday but in that moment I was really panicking as I tried to take the pregnancy test, which came out positive. I called my boyfriend and he told me that he would drop out of school to work and help me or support whatever decision I made when I talked about abortion. I went to PP to get confirmation of a pregnancy but it turned out the one I did was a false positive and the two periods I missed were because of a new medication and hormone fluctuations. I was so relieved, but I had a battle with myself about how I went back on my upbringing that abortion is wrong. Then I thought what life would I have had with a baby I wasn’t ready for, as my boyfriend and I drop out of great schools and student loan debt but no careers. I stand by your decision and we are both going to have great families someday.

  • 2015 Grad

    Dear Writer:

    I’m going to give a Christian perspective, and I hope at the least you could just read it, in the same way I read this article. What’s done cannot be undone. It strikes me as interesting that a sticker saying “Choose Life” would cause such emotion, and from what you wrote, it seems that there was a sense of wonder and reality that settled in your heart as you were struck by those words. Taking that child’s life wasn’t right, but that’s the story of all humanity. We all make mistakes, and we will all suffer the consequences. Pregnancy is the consequence of sex. Sexual activity, contrary to the belief of many, is not simply intended for pleasure, but rather to create life. I don’t need much to support that basic, natural fact. If it were not true, contraceptives, condoms, vasectomies, etc. wouldn’t exist.

    Ultimately, the past is behind us. Though God approves not the decision to abort, He did send Jesus Christ to take away the guilt and shame of wrong-decisions and to give humanity hope. There’s nothing we do to earn or deserve it, and there’s nothing we ever could have done that God will not forgive. Even as he was dying, Jesus prayed that those crucifying him would be forgiven. God sent His Son to purposefully die that anyone who would believe in Him could be forgiven and given eternal life, and that eternal life being far greater than temporal, worldly successes and ambitions.

    Of course, this means nothing if you do not view the decision to abort as wrong. To that end we could debate endlessly. If there were anything I would truly want you to know, it would be that God loves you, He cares for you, He knows your struggles and insecurities, He even knows the depths of pain, confusion, and strain of your situation and He longs for you to trust in Him and to know Him.

  • Jon

    First of all – to the author – thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure it was incredibly difficult to write this, but do know that you have made a positive impact on so many people’s lives by publishing. I hope this story gives courage to and empowers other women who are in the same situation.

    Second of all – to many of the other commenters – I am absolutely astonished at the lack of empathy and support provided by other members of the Cornell community. Shame on you.

    I will spare you all the -hundreds- of lectures, journal articles, and other pieces of literature provided by actual scientists talking about the faulty arguments of the “pro-life” movement (I use quotations because even this nomenclature is incredibly misleading). And trust me, they exist.

    I will spare you all of the philosophical arguments about the insurmountable importance of one’s bodily autonomy. Let’s not even go into the legal arguments when considering abortion in depraved cases of rape or incest.

    I just want to ask you this. Why? Next time, before you write something so recklessly un-empathetic, so heartless on someone’s heartfelt piece, stop for a second and think. Do you believe this is going to stop another abortion? Do you think the author of this post is rushing to get another abortion, and thank god you had the sense to convince her otherwise? Do you think someone else might read this and think: “huh, they’re right, their lives and bodies are just like taxes! How silly was I to think otherwise!?”

    If you are so “pro-life,” and you want to share your divine opinion about the matter, stop. Consider someone else’s livelihood before you spew such disgusting rhetoric. Next time take a half of a second and think about how your words will impact others, and try to actually provide positive value to someone else’s life and to our community.

  • Niko

    I quote: “It doesn’t matter to me what your religion is or what your personal values are. If you do not believe in abortion, don’t get one. Make sure your sex life reflects your values, too. But your values have no place in my uterus.” You also use the words “disgusting rhetoric” to describe a set of values that you disagree with.

    These phrases scream the word “entitlement,” a word that is commonly associated with the millennial generation. As such, it is no surprise to me that you are a college student. Though you may claim that the values of others have no place in your uterus, you clearly are referring to (only) values that don’t align with your own.

    You can’t live your life sheltering yourself from difference of opinion. Let me make myself very clear: I am not arguing for or against abortion. I am simply stating that you are not respectful of others, by observing the disrespectful way in which you marginalize the values of some, just because their not yours. Take your entitlement and leave it at the door when you become a professional.

  • george

    Jon- fuck off.

  • Viola

    This was beautiful and enlightening and courageous, and I thank you for writing it.

    • George

      What exactly is beautiful about this? A woman is not ready for the “blob” as she refers to it. She had a potential problem and dealt with it. Not particularly heroic, just pragmatic.

      • Dave

        Your are so right, George! The author is obviously a proven alexithymic sociopath and needs spiritual help.

  • Dave

    Human life means that 46 chromosomes (that’s 23 X ones and 23 Y ones, by the way) are together – TIMING IS IRRELEVANT, inside or outside the womb. Abortions are no different than other murders in the eyes of the Almighty, so let’s stop doing them out of convenience! This anonymous story submitter should have never “taken a chance”, like so many others, engaging in sex without assuming the risk.

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  • The Other Side

    Isn’t it ironic that when we discuss abortion, the baby is de-humanised as a fetus.
    The next time you see a pregnant friend will you ask-
    “How’s the fetus coming along?”
    Of course not.

  • anonymous

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