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Category Archives: Abortion

I’ve Never Told Anyone by Angie Boudreau

The following blog post is a mix of emails AbortionChat received and was given permission to share from Ms. Angie Boudreau. Until now, she has never shared her story with anyone. The reason she told AbortionChat we could share? 
I am willing to share my story if it would help even just one person.”

So thank you, Angie, for sharing this personal story with us and with the other members of the AbortionChat community. This is her story in her own words: 


Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have no idea where to start. Until last year I never told anyone about the abuse I endured as a child and into my teen years. I finally decided to seek therapy, and have shared a lot with her over the past year, but not about my abortion. Why? It’s not shame, or guilt, or even anger. I can’t explain what it is. Thinking about it is something I have tried to avoid as much as possible. For years I had refused to let myself believe I actually went through it to begin with.

See when I was 15 I was attacked by 4 older guys. I knew one of them as a friend’s older brother. The other 3 guys wore ski masks and I don’t think I knew them. Honestly there isn’t much I remember. However I do remember the moment I woke up naked, bruised head to toe, and with an ache I just can’t put into words. I was alone. I think I must have passed out a few times because by the time I managed to move, and get myself dressed.. it was night. I called my Grandfather (my Parents were out of town for the weekend looking at houses). My Grandfather came to pick me up, and took me to the hospital. I had a bad concussion, broken collarbone, and multiple fractures in my face. The ride to the hospital seemed very long, and we didn’t say a word. My Grandfather is a very quiet man. He never did ask questions as to what had happened.

At the hospital they checked me out, and said I had to stay for observation. A very friendly nurse with bright red hair came into my room. I remember her so well. I believe she was a nurse, and not a doctor. My memories are very broken as to the events that day. I do remember how soft spoken she was. She was trying to get me to talk about what had happened. I would only tell them I fell down the stairs. I always stuck with that story. Up until this point in my life I had always been abused by a Great Aunt and Uncle. They threatened me, and I felt like it was something I deserved, and to me it was normal. I didn’t know anything else. After 2 days in the hospital they sent me home. I stayed with my Grandparents for a couple of weeks. That wasn’t out of the norm. I stayed with them quite a bit. I was very close with my Grandmother.

Some time passed, and I wasn’t feeling so great. I was always sleeping, and always sick it seemed. My Grandparents took such good care of me. They didn’t give me a hard time about missing school, and they didn’t pressure me to go back home. Although they never said anything I have a feeling they knew things weren’t the best at home. It wasn’t long before my Grandmother figured I was pregnant. She didn’t even tell me at the time. She told one of her brother’s. Then one day he picked me up, and took me to the doctor’s. Everything had been arranged for me by my Grandmother. Once they talked to me and I found out what was happening I freaked. I tried to leave, and I tried to talk to them. They wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. I had already drank a glass of water when I first arrived there (it was a very hot day out). Something must have been in that glass because it didn’t take long for me to start feeling very weak, and I just wanted to lie down. I felt as though I couldn’t move or talk. I felt like I was screaming inside, but nobody could hear me. I woke up sometime after and eventually my Uncle took my back to my Grandparents. It was never discussed. I never mentioned it to my Grandparents.

Then when my Grandmother became ill a few years later she had written me a letter explaining why she did what she did. She didn’t want my life to be ruined. She said nothing good could have come out of bringing a child into this world under such circumstances. She apologized as well.

To this day the only regret I have is having that abortion. I am now unable to have children due to scaring, and complications from the abortion. Then again I can’t get close to men so I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids anyway.

I am not against abortion! please don’t misunderstand. I am for women’s rights. Everyone is different, and every situation is different. Women should have a choice what to do with their body. It is HER body after all. Even though I wish I had gotten to keep the baby (I ache for a baby), I know at the time it was the right decision made for me.

I apologize this turned out to be so long. I don’t know where it all came from. If you are still reading… thank you for listening, and giving me an outlet to get this out.
Angie grew up in a small town in Eastern Canada. She was an only child with 2 very busy parents who she rarely saw. She lived there until the end of Grade 9. That’s when everything fell apart for her. Eventually she moved to Toronto, and have been there ever since. She am now 37, still single, have a few really great friends, she is happy with her job, and does a lot of volunteer work for numerous organizations. That was until this past year when memories became triggered, and the nightmare started all over again.

If you’re reading this and have any questions for Angie, she can be reached through AbortionChat’s email (abortionchat at gmail dot com) or through her twitter account: @TherapyAfterCSA

An Interview with Karen B. K. Chan

Near the end of 2013, I was honored to attend the Sex Ed Conference in New Jersey and meet the wonderful Karen B. K. Chan. During her panel, she showed us her Jam video, and it blew my mind. Thus, I requested an interview with her, and she accepted.

A: What exactly is a sex educator? What are the most challenging parts of your job? The most rewarding?
K: There are many kinds of sex educators… the kind I mean when I call myself a sex educator is that I facilitate people’s learning (and unlearning) about sex and sexuality.
Information giving is only a small part. The parts that are most important (and rewarding) to me are about self-acceptance and transformation, and walking alongside and witnessing people as they move into (and through) difficult feelings. I also love explaining things that are hard to understand, and telling stories about human sexuality that don’t get told enough.
A: Where did you get the idea for your Jam video?
K: It’s based on a fabulous essay by Thomas MacAulay Millar called “Towards a Performance Model of Sex”, published in “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape” (by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti). For many months, I insisted on reading it, aloud, to friends and lovers. When the commission from Sex Ed: Chapter 1 (an exhibit about arts-based sex ed curated by Liz Slagus and Norene Leddy) came up, I was so happy to get Thomas’ blessings to make a video spin-off from it.
A: What do you feel is the most important component of sex between two partners?
K: There is an infinite number of ways to connect sexually. What’s important depends on what people are seeking, and what parts of themselves they want to reveal or conceal.
But if I had to pick something – I’d say being present. It’s essential for the kind of sex that is transformative and magical (be that something quick and casual, or something intense and profound). But, it isn’t always magical, transcending sex we’re after. Sometimes we just want to get off, and being present matters little. So this is my long way of saying – it depends!
A: In the video, you mention, “Practice makes us less self conscious, more knowledgeable, more skillful and more in the moment.” How would you encourage a person faced with self-shame to engage in a healthy sexual relationship?
K: I would encourage them to figure out what they want. I don’t think everyone needs to be everything. We all have demons, and we choose to live with some of them and tackle others. Noticing one’s shame doesn’t, to me, mean we must get rid of it in a hurry. There’s no shame in shame… so to speak.
But, if someone decides for themselves that the shame is getting in their way, then I’d encourage them to gently head into and befriend the shame. That could be through any number of things: reading, therapy, talking with friends, having sex differently, not having sex at all, telling and hearing stories, masturbating (more/differently/not at all), ritual, movement, song, art, performance, seminars, documentaries, medical interventions, self-medicating, and endlessly on. The modality can be different and multiple; that’s not the key. The key is to find a way to be kind to the parts that are most shameful within ourselves. Often when people notice shame and want to change it, they are doing it out of aversion and disgust. So it can feel counter-intuitive, but I truly believe that the only way to dissolve and transform shame is to love the shit out of it.
A: Do you have any advice to offer to those who have faced abortion and are reluctant or feeling ashamed to have sex again?
K: I really empathize. Many people feel guilty, shameful, self-blaming, “bad”, angry, scared, regretful, or irresponsible after having therapeutic abortions (it is also common to feel relieved, empowered, self-loving, calm, at ease, grateful…). I would encourage folks to talk about their experience, to unpack the meaning of it, to figure out where those meanings come from, to reframe it, and to find a way to forgive themselves (if that’s what’s needed).
Often, people hold onto guilt so that they can punish themselves and not repeat something they deem to have been a mistake (like, not using a condom that one time). In those cases, it can help to mark the “mistake” somehow – through a ritual, storytelling, making art, a tattoo – so that the act of forgiving and forgetting can be separated, and one can happen without the other.
A: At the Sex Ed Conference, you’d mentioned how to ask for consent over and over. Do have have any advice about different ways to approach this?
K: Asking for consent explicitly can be through questions during sex, or frank conversations not during sex. This is something that gets easier through practice – the awkwardness fades over time. So the advice for that would be simply to do it.
Another piece of the puzzle is to readjust expectations of what sex looks and feels like. Sex is awkward, stilted, messy, goofy, funny; it’s nothing like what we see in movies. So my advice would be to do the best you know how – ask awkward questions; check in with words, gestures, eyebrows, muffled grunts; talk about things before and afterward.
Finally, as much as possible, don’t make assumptions. Feelings and preferences and limits differ from person to person, and changes all the time. Which is not to say you have to check in about everything constantly. Great consent, to me, is a balance between the implicit/intuitive and the explicit, both of which are conscious and thoughtful. Particularly, that whatever you leave to intuition or habit or previous knowledge about someone isn’t out of accident, neglect, or fear.
A: In the video and during your presentation, you’d mentioned that people are not “damaged goods” because they have sex. How can we encourage men and women to realize this?
K: The concept is very gendered. When we talk about damaged goods, almost always we are talking about women. So, to challenge this concept we need to counter some serious, deep-seated sexism. The truth is that, often, when women have sex with men, they don’t enjoy it as much as the men might. The problem, however, is not that women don’t enjoy sex as much as men. This is a pervasive belief that is normalized in all aspects of life. The problem, instead, is that people don’t expect women to feel a lot of desire or pleasure, so no wonder that it doesn’t happen.
What I’m proposing is, countering the assumption that women don’t/can’t enjoy sex counters the assumption that women are used, and somehow ruined, by sex.
If we believe, know, and manifest the reality that there is a lot in it for women during sex, that a woman would logically decide to have sex because she enjoys it, then her body is not simply a consumable object, but a subject with agency. This won’t solve all our problems, but cultivating a society’s belief, trust, and respect for women’s sexuality will change the “damaged goods” situation radically.
A: At the Sex Ed Conference, you touched on the Levels of Nervousness, the Comfort Zone, the Stretch Zone, and the Panic Zone. Can you elaborate on these and what is healthy vs unhealthy in a sexual relationship?
K: This is an excellent model I learned from an organization called Yes! World in California. They put on amazing gatherings (called “Jams”) for people invested in social change.
The model is 3 concentric circles: the innermost is the “Comfort Zone”, the next larger one the “Stretch Zone”, and the final, largest one the “Panic Zone”. The Comfort Zone is, obviously, a place of ease and rejuvenation. Both the Stretch Zone and the Panic Zone are uncomfortable places. The difference is that in Stretch, we are challenged but still engaged. We are wrestling with new information, shifting our points of view, making decisions. In Panic, however, we are beyond our limits and we shut down. Nothing is getting in, nothing is shifting, and we are just surviving.
Ideally, within a sexual (or any) relationship, we can be in the Comfort Zone most of the time, and venture into the Stretch Zone regularly. And both people would know themselves well enough that when they are in the Panic Zone, there is room to scale back into Stretch or Comfort. This can apply to sexual or any other kinds of experiences, or even the exchange of ideas. It’s also important for both people to care for themselves so that they can maintain (or develop) a good-sized Stretch Zone.
A: During your presentation you’d brought up the idea of being able to listen to your partner. Do you have any tips on how to communicate more effectively with your partner?
K: There are many ways to communicate well, and it depends to some degree on the people involved. A great model I like is Non-Violent Communication, which is also called Compassionate Communication. But I’d be a fan of any model that encourages empathy and listening.
A: Anything else you’d like to add?
K: Thanks for asking, AbortionChat! It was a joy to share space and ideas with you!

Karen B. K. Chan is a sex educator, facilitator, speaker and taiko drummer. She is based out of Ontario,Canada.

Recently she hosted a panel at the National Sex Ed Conference in New Jersey. You can find her on twitter: @karenbkchan, or at her website:fluidexchange.org

8 Things Not to Say to Someone After Abortion by Kassi Underwood

After I had an abortion, nobody knew what to say to me. Not even Larry, my therapist. Poor Larry. Looking back, I would not have known what to say to me, either. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Men, too, deserve to be heard. Yet we are not taught how to talk to people who have experienced abortion.

The first thing to know is that everyone experiences abortion differently. Many of my friends never looked back. Having an abortion just wasn’t a big deal for them. But I had a lot of feelings. Relief. Regret. Confusion. Doubt. Apathy. Curiosity. Confidence. Overconfidence. Contentment.

It takes a courageous, patient, and empathetic friend to listen to someone share about her or his experience with abortion. As researcher Dr. Brené Brown explains, “Empathy is feeling with people.” Thank you for coming over here and feeling with us.

1. But weren’t you unstable before the abortion?
We’re smart people. We are fully aware of the lives we’ve led. If our state of mind beforehand seems relevant, then we will discuss it in our own time. We came to you because we would like to talk about how we feel right now.

What to say: I’m glad you came to talk to me about this.

2. That was years ago, dollface. Isn’t it time to move on?
We know exactly how much time has elapsed. If we could have moved on already, we would have. Some people see their abortion as the loss of their identity, or their child, or their chance. While it is important to make no assumptions about why someone is having feelings around their abortion, you can tell us you know how normal we are for feeling the way we do. We are completely acceptable as-is.

What to say: I know this happened years ago, and it’s okay if you’re still really, really sad.

3. All this sadness makes you sound like you’re against abortion.
Our emotions may have nothing to do with our opinion about abortion. I know women who have marched on Washington for their right to choose while privately regretting their own decisions. I know women who believe very deeply that abortion is wrong while feeling that abortion was the right decision for them. Our personal stories do not always reflect our political beliefs. When we come to you, please do not match our emotions to a political narrative.

What to say: There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

4. You weren’t ready for a baby.
This tells us that we are inferior, irresponsible, and immature, which is simply not true. We made the most mature, responsible decisions we could at the time. Some of us feel proud of the independence we gained from all the footwork this decision required. If we tell you we didn’t have access to the resources we needed, feel with us. Remember a time when you didn’t have what you needed. Acknowledge that we are worthy of having everything we need. All of us.

What to say: Sounds like you know what’s best for you.

5. Well, I support your right to choose.
This one sounds like support, but it ends the conversation. What we need is space to connect with you. If we would like to know your political views, please trust us to ask you. If we don’t ask, then perhaps we don’t need to know.

What to say: Take your time — I’m listening.

6. I don’t support what you did, but I’m here to support you.
It can be difficult to feel unconditionally loved and supported by someone who condemns what you did. You don’t have to support what we did, but when you are supporting us, please leave your opinions and expectations at the door. Then come in, listen to what we are saying, and try to put yourself in our shoes.

What to say: I’m here to support you.

7. No — it was actually a baby/child/fetus/embryo/zygote/clump of cells.
Many of us have done the research. We know the terminology. Sometimes it takes nerve to use the word we like best. Please don’t correct us. Instead, use our terminology when you talk to us.

What to say: You’re allowed to call it a fetus or a baby —it was yours and you can call it whatever you want.

8. But are you really happy now?
Some of us really are very happy right after the procedure for reasons so vast and diverse that I could write about them for pages. Even if we’re not happy right afterward, many of us become happy in our own time. If we tell you that we’re happy, we may have done a lot of work to reach this extraordinary place. Please celebrate with us. Do a little dance. Hip-bump. Yay.

What to say: I’m glad you feel relieved and rejuvenated.

If you have experienced abortion, what would you add to this list? What would you change?

 * * *

An AWESOME resource for anyone who has experienced abortion — and for the people who love them — is exhaleprovoice.org. Check out the “Pro-Voice Counseling Guide” for more information about how to support someone after abortion.

I read an earlier version of this list at “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts: Can Choose!,” a variety show for the women of Texas, hosted by comedians Sarah Silverman and Lizz Winstead. This piece was first published on Medium.com and exhaleprovoice.org.

 * * *

Kassi Underwood is a Pro-Voice Fellow who writes and speaks about abortion all over the place, including The New York Times, The New York Daily News, New York Magazine, Exhale’s Pro-Voice Blog, and on UpWorthy.com and MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show,” among others venues. Follow her on Twitter: @kassiunderwood.

Granted Ability to Find Stories

The Abortion Conversation Project announced six successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Fall 2013 round of mini-grants. “All of the awards focus on amplifying the stories of abortion and the voices of those who have experienced abortion,” noted Peg Johnston of the Abortion Conversation Project Board.
The Abortion Conversation Project’s mission is “to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.”
Cindy Cooper of Words of Choice has proposed a walking tour of Reproductive Justice in New York Citywith their award. Another NYC based award went to Project Voice a website created by Maya Pindyck that would promote the site and also “talk back” to anti-abortion propaganda on the streets and subways. Another blog about abortion, AbortionChat will get funding to do outreach to writers to include the complexity of abortion in their writing.
Our Bodies, Our Bikes: Women’s Health and Wellness On and Off the Bicycle is an upcoming anthology and will include a chapter on abortion as a result of an honorarium funded by an ACP grant. Funding was also awarded to Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic in MissoulaMT to create local original theatre to tell women’s abortion stories. And in Atlanta, the Feminist HealthCenter’s Lifting Latina Voices Initiative will use their grant to train Promotoras to discuss abortion in the Latinacommunity.

 

The Abortion Conversation Project was founded in 2000 and spent its early years defining post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients themselves, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse prochoice audiences. After helping to launch the Abortion Care Network, ACP explored conflict transformation techniques and decided to offer small grants to engage many more people in its mission. The Abortion Conversation Project has a website at www.abortionconversation.com and a blog at http:// abortionconversationproject.wordpress.com/, as well as a Facebook page. Supporters can also receive an e-newsletter by clicking on the link on the home page of the website.

Effective Immediately

Just before the hearing

Last night Portland Maine’s City Council met at 7pm to discuss passing a 39 foot patient safety zone around Planned Parenthood. After weeks of hostile protests that seemed to only get more hostile with time, the city and its people had had enough.

During the first public hearing about a month ago, dozens of men and women took the podium to ask the partial council to move forward with the safety zone. There wasn’t one voice of opposition. The four members who were present decided to listen to their town.

Last night, however, there were voices of opposition. The people claimed that the protests were “ministry” and that they were “peaceful.” One voice stated that walking through the protesters is merely “inconvenient” or “a little uncomfortable.”

However, men and women in support of the buffer zone recounted times of being screamed at, of needing police officers present to feel safe. One woman shared a story of having such intense anxiety that she no longer utilizes Planned Parenthood and travels 20 miles out of her way to seek reproductive healthcare. I spoke of protesters in Virginia screaming at me when I sought my abortion. There, I didn’t have to face people standing close enough to touch me. I was still terrified.

Religious advocates, military, workers and volunteers from Planned Parenthood, and ordinary citizens spoke in support of the patient safety zone.

After nearly three and a half hours, the motion was unanimously passed with an amendment to go into effect immediately.

It’s a small step, but it’s one that allows women seeking reproductive freedom safety from harassment. Yes, the protesters will still exist, but now, at least they will be across the street.

Many states are under fire right now with access to reproductive healthcare under attack. This post is a small, “Don’t lose heart.” There are still people fighting for women’s rights.

Announcement: Abortion Stigma Busting Video Competition!

Really…?! Abortion Stigma Busting Video Competition
Push back against anti-abortion extremism with your video!


The Abortion Care Network is sponsoring the first-ever video competition to show the world how people feel about the current climate of extreme anti-abortion legislation and societal stigma against abortion. “We are looking for all kinds of videos, from personal stories to pro choice activism, from direct calling out of anti-choice legislators to flashmob actions, as long it busts current stigma against abortion,” according to Peg Johnston, coordinator of the event. “Video is an important tool in changing attitudes and giving voice to those who have been silenced.”



Videos must be no longer than 3 minutes but very short videos using applications such as Vines or Instagram area also eligible. There are three $200 Judge’s Choice awards and three Honorable Mentions. $100 of the award will go to the individual and $100 will go to the winner’s abortion fund of choice. Videos will be shown at Abortion Care Network’s conferences, embedded on related websites, and used for promotional purposes by ACN.


Stories that Stay

On our twitter feed today, someone posted this video. Because we love sharing stories, this is now our today’s post:

Irrational Fears Before Obtaining An Abortion

Walking into an abortion clinic is hard for most women. For many, it’s because of the unknown, the risks we’ve all read about, and the backlash from the anti-choice community. But outside of those factors, many women walk in with irrational fears that add to their stress level. So if you are considering having an abortion, here is a small list of things you SHOULD NOT be worrying about before your procedure:

*Pubic Hair
With the rise of the pornography industry, there has been a lot of stress on pubic hair and whether or not women should have it. This, by far, should be the LEAST of your worries. Going under the “It’s your body, it’s your choice” mentality, that does not just apply to an abortion, it applies to your hair, too. The people servicing you will be doctors. They will be men and/or women who have seen over a hundred vaginas in their day. Yours is your own. Feel comfortable (or as comfortable as you can) with it.

*Male Doctors
This is harder said than done. There are many wonderful woman doctors, and when I sought my abortion, I was hoping to have a female doctor. My heart nearly fell out of my mouth when a male walked in and asked how I was. But the reality is this: a doctor is a doctor. They are trained professionals.There are awesome female doctors, and there are awesome male doctors.

*Your Friends and Family
If you’re obtaining an abortion, chances are you’ve told at least one other person, and I hope they were supportive. Right now, support is the one thing you need. If you’re worried Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe will judge your decision, stop worrying. It’s your decision to make. You don’t ever have to tell them if you don’t want to. Right now, you need to focus on yourself and your body. Surround yourself with supportive people. Call the Pro-Voice hotline. Call anywhere that will make you feel better.

*Work
Work is work. While it’s nice to have a job, as previously stated, you need to focus on yourself and your body. If you need to take a personal day before/after the abortion, do so. Right now, getting through the day may be a priority. It’s okay to work, it’s okay to work the day after your abortion, and it’s okay to not work the day after your abortion. What do you want to do?

*Protesters
This one isn’t quite an irrational fear because protesters do exist, and they can be mean. The nice thing is that many times there are escorts for the clinics where protesters are just a little too close for comfort. Otherwise, it’s always recommended that you bring a friend, your significant other, whomever else with you. I had protesters yell at me as I walked in, but I also had a friend with me who put her arm around my shoulders and said not to listen. That made all the difference. I know it’s difficult, but try not to let them stress you out more than you already are.

*Crying
CRYING IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE.
I didn’t know this when I underwent my abortion. I didn’t realize this during my first appointment, and I didn’t realize it until I stumbled out and knocked over a box of tissues. It is okay to cry. It is also okay to not cry. It is okay for you to react however you want or need to react, but please, allow yourself to react. Allowing yourself to process things is the first step in taking care of yourself.

While this is only a small list, we welcome  your comments, questions, and even anything else you would like to add to the list.

Remember, priority one is to take care of yourself, be you ProChoice, AntiChoice, Religious, Cis, Trans, Boy, Girl or Atheist (or any variation in-between).

My Parents Should Have Had An Abortion

Somewhere in the history of the world, there is a videotape. On it is my mother, holding one of my

In high school, using a phone that a friend paid for

teddy bears, clutched to her chest and refusing to give it back to me. I’m three or younger in the video. I don’t recall this interaction, but I do remember watching the tape at some point and thinking that my mother did, in fact, love me at some point in my life.

The only question then, is when did she stop?

I get attacked on twitter by the antichoice movement asking, “What if your parents had an abortion?” My response is typically, “That probably would be for the best.”

I’m not saying that I want to die, or I would rather not exist. I think on some level, I would still have come into being, just that I would have had parents. A mother who read me bed time stories. A father who didn’t drink every time he had visitation rights.

Instead, if the antichoice movement gets their way, they’ll be placing countless more children like me at risk. They’ll be subjecting youngsters to watching their mother attempt suicide. To watching their siblings get beat. To some day being 25 years old and waking up screaming from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the recurring nightmares.

I hear rumor of child protective services stepping in. In my case, they didn’t. No matter how many times my sisters and I called the cops, there was never enough evidence. Even when we found my father’s stash of weed in his bedroom, we were told that we could have planted the drugs. When he was pulled over for drunk driving with me, not wearing my seat-belt, the cops let him off with a warning.

Years later, after a night of drunk driving hell and abandonment in the middle of nowhere, my father lost custody. Upon full visitation rights to my mother, things rapidly dwindled. I grew up in a house infested with fleas. In the backroom, maggots crawled across the floor. My mother left for weeks at a time, leaving my controlling sister in charge which directly resulted in my running away from home when I was thirteen.

I never wanted to return.

I moved out of my mother’s when I was still in high school. Because of her lack of parental guidance, a friend drove me from Michigan to Maine so I could look at the university I would later attend. He later made the same drive so that I could actually make the move. My mother barely said goodbye to me.

I do presentations to groups of people now: middle school students, adults, whoever will listen. I tell the younger generation that they can survive impossible circumstances. I share my backstory with them. I tell adult groups how to help kids who have grown up in my situation.

Me in college during an ice storm
blackout

The bottom line is that I know, beyond a doubt, tons of children are going through the same things I did. I know this because I’ve met them. I’ve held them as they’ve cried. I follow them on Twitter. They will not receive help. They’ll be lucky to graduate from high school. They’ll be even luckier if they go to college.

If the antichoice movement wins, according to them, thousands of lives will be saved. But what kind of life will they be forcing the children to live?

The lives that need to be saved are staring right in front of us. They’re quiet. They’re hurt. And at some point, we have to start stepping in to help them instead of forcing more people into those situations.

Abortion in High School, An Interview

I had an interview with high school student, “A”, today. Her friend obtained an abortion last summer. Here is “A”‘s side of the story:

Something to always keep in mind
Q: How old are you?
A: 17.
Q: How old was your friend when she sought an abortion?
A: At the time she was 16.
Q: Did she tell you she was pregnant, or that she had an abortion?
A: She didn’t tell me she was pregnant, she just told me through the summer that she was having a really rough time and she couldn’t wait to see me. When I finally saw her, she told me all about it.
Q: How did she tell you?
A: We were having a heart to heart, we were talking about summer. She got a little quiet, not really shy, but she said she had something to tell me. Then she told me not to judge her. Then she told me. It was shocking to me.
Q: What was your reaction?
A: I was shocked. I was kind of heartbroken for her because she told me she’d had a terrible summer, and I thought it couldn’t have been that bad. I was just like, really surprised that something like that could happen to one of my best friends in the whole wide world.
Q: How did she handle her abortion?
A: It happened in the summer, so she had a lot of time to think about it. She went to her mom’s and told her mom. She had a therapist for a little bit. She tried her best to contain her emotions, it was one of those decisions she didn’t make for herself. She was sad. Really, really, sad. I feel like she handled it like any other person would. She was generally upset about it. She was drugged by her significant other at the time, but she insisted it wasn’t rape, and then she got pregnant. She knew she had sex, but she didn’t remember it. She thought they used a condom, but they didn’t.
Q: Did she tell her parents?
A: She told her mom first, and then her dad. Her mom insisted abortion was the only option.
Q: Did she tell her significant other?
A: Yes, and he like too many males out there just kind of fled from it. They couldn’t press charges because she didn’t say it was rape. The age of consent is 16, I think he was either 19 or 20.
Q: Why did she decide to have an abortion?
A: Because she knew she was way too young to be a mother, she wasn’t ready, it was either this baby for the rest of her life, or she goes and tries to live a teenage life. She really just wanted to be a normal teenager. She knew if she had the baby it wouldn’t happen. She was scared, she knew the significant other wasn’t going to stick around. It was one of those “I’m going to hurt this child if I have it. If I have it, it won’t have a good life.”
Q: Do you feel like she was pressured into her decision?
A: No. Not at all. She was not going to have this kid. She wants to have kids when she’s old enough and ready, but at that time she just wasn’t.
Q: Do you support her decision?
A: I definitely support her decision because I know it’s the best for her right now, even if she gets sad about it. I know she thinks about it every day, but I think it’s best for her. If she’d gone through with having a child, she wouldn’t have been happy.
Q: Did any member of the school district know about her abortion? Do you think they should have?
A: Yes, a few of her teachers knew about it. I think her mom sent an email. Definitely her counselors knew about it. I think some people should have known in case she broke down in class so there was someone to go to. It’s not one of those easy quick fixes. It’s been over a year since her abortion, and we’ve had countless conversations about it. She just needs to be supported.
Q: What were the hardships surrounding your friend and her abortion?
A: Oh, man. Seeing little kids, and interacting with small children. She told me a story, one of her teachers
Photo Credit:
Allie Rosnato

has a kid with curly blond hair and blue eyes, and she thought her child could have looked like that and asked, “What kind of monster am I?” Her relationship with her mother was definitely tested. She really liked this guy, but she pushed him away because he was the cause of all this.

Q: What do you feel were the important aspects of supporting your friend?
A: Texting, that was an important thing. Communication, talking to her, asking her how she felt today. I think the most important thing was having her be able to talk about it. A lot of the time people try to sweep it under the rug, I think it’s something that needs to be talked about because it did happen. She told me she doesn’t talk about it with her mom, and I think I was that person she went to to talk about it and her feelings.
Q: Is she okay now?
A: Yes, I mean, there’s going to be that one little part that will always, always see a kid and feel that guilt, and that pain, and that sorrow, but I know for a fact she’s going to be okay. I know when she has kids someday and she’ll know she made the right decision because she’ll give that child the life it deserves.
Q: What is your sexual education curriculum like at your school?
A: Um…well…we have a freshmen year health course, but it’s not really that technical.
Q: Do you feel like this is sufficient?
A: Not at all. I mean, I honestly think we should have this course our junior or senior year. I feel like only 2% is sexually active freshmen year and as you get older it’s more relevant in your life. Freshmen year it’s kind of a joke, and you don’t really care about what’s going on. Freshmen are immature and you can’t take it seriously. When you’re older, it’ll matter to you.
Q: Do you know how to operate a condom?
A: Yes.
Q: Are you a virgin? If no, when did you lose your virginity?
A: No, and April 2013.
Q: What would you do if you were to get pregnant now?
A: Um, well, I’d probably do the same thing as my friend just because I have the same opinions as she does.
Q: Have you told your partner this?
A: Yes, and they agree.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I think that people need to be smarter. If you don’t want kids, do everything in your power to not. Use a condom. Get birth control. Use Plan B if you need to. It’s fun to have fun, but I can’t stress it enough: BE SAFE.
Also, Relationships take two people, and when it ends up one sided, things go wrong. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself in to.