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Category Archives: Telling Family

An Interview with Emily Robinson

 A little over a week ago, I got to sit down with 15 year old, Emily Robinson, who may have a small addiction to whip cream, cinnamon, and music. Emily will be a sophomore in high school in the Fall, and never misses an opportunity to go on an adventure. Dressed in a To Write Love On Her Arms tank top, a Warped Tour hat, and skinny jeans, Emily sat down to answer some questions from AbortionChat.

How do you identify (ProChoice, ProLife, ProVoice, etc)? Why?

I’m ProChoice because I believe that women should have control over their own bodies and have the option to have an abortion. The option should be available to those that need/want it.

Are your friends sexually active? How do you feel about this?

Yes, my friends are sexually active. I’m okay with it I guess, but I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant (or, in the case that it’s one of my male friends, if they get a girl pregnant.)

You said, “I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant” have you ever had these types of conversations with them? Would you be willing to?

I have (kinda?) had these conversations with my friends. Really, only with one. But he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. One time, he told me that he didn’t use a condom and that he had pulled out. After asking him what he would have done if the girl got pregnant, he brushed the conversation off and refused to believe that she could have gotten pregnant. Which, thankfully, she didn’t.
But I’m willing to have these conversations. My friends, however, seem to be hesitant and are not entirely willing.

Do you know what consent is (how to convey it, how to ask for it, etc)?

Yes. Well…I like to think that I do. The easiest way to ask for consent is to just throw the question out there, “Do you want it?”

Do you feel like there is a correlation to unhealthy relationships, body image, and mental health? If so, can you explain?

Yes. Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is. A few years ago (and even in the present day) I wasn’t exactly in the best place. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally stable. I was far from it, actually. My body image was bad and my mental health was even worse. I had no self esteem. As one of those got worse, every one slowly did the same thing. At the same time, when things started getting better, they all got better at the same time; and they still are.

If you were to find out you were pregnant today, what would your reaction be?

Surprised. If anything, afraid. I’m not sexually active, but in the case that I was and got pregnant, I would feel trapped. What would my friends think? Not that it matters, but what would my other peers and teachers think? What about my mother? Sister? Friends parents? Other people in my life? What would they say?
I’ve heard people my age talk about girls that get pregnant. The things they say are terrible. In high school, (not necessarily my high school, thank God), if a girl is pregnant she’s ridiculed and called a whore, slut, etc. and everyone talks about how she’s stupid for not practicing safe sex. Even if she did and something went wrong, people still ridicule her.
So, if I was pregnant, I would be afraid. I would go to an abortion clinic as soon as possible. If it started to show, I would stay home. Everyone is so judgmental, it’s sickening.

What do you think your family’s reaction would be?

My family would disown me and I would be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts.

What would you do if the state of Maine implemented a parental consent law? Would this affect your decision?

If Maine had a parental consent law, it wouldn’t affect my decision. My mother would make me go to a clinic, and I would probably choose to go to a clinic, too.

You said “I’d be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts,” but also eluded to the fact you’d willingly go. Do you think pressure would cause you to seek out an abortion? Would you consider carrying out the pregnancy at all? (Basically I’m curious to see if this is YOUR decision or how much influence those around you would have on this decision.)

I think I would seek an abortion either way. There is no way I could carry out a pregnancy. Mostly because I couldn’t afford a child and because I am unfit to be a mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world if it’s not going to have a good life with a good mother that’s fit to be one. Carrying out a pregnancy is not a possibility.

What about if you found out your best friend was pregnant?

I would be afraid for her. If my male best friend got a girl pregnant, I would be afraid for him, too. Neither of their parents would let a newborn into the house. Either way, I would be surprised and afraid but I would be there to support them no matter what.How would you support them?
To support my pregnant friend, I would be there emotionally and I would give them everything I could. And I would try to help them through every decision they made.

What is the sexual education program like at your school? How do you feel it could be improved?

I haven’t taken health at my high school yet, but my sister has. In the elementary and middle schools it wasn’t very good. It was vague and repetitive. For the four years I took the class (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade), it brushed over the same things: male arousal, condoms/preventative methods (only covered condoms), menstrual cycles, puberty, abstinence, and in 8th grade a very brief lesson on STDs. That’s it.
I found that most of the time the people teaching this stuff couldn’t answer my questions, so everything I know about this stuff I learned online. These classes never covered female arousal, pregnancy (and what happens), birth control, and other things. The world of sex is so much more than what they’re teaching.
But I hear the class is much better in high school. They apparently cover that stuff more; maybe because people are sexually active in high school. Who knows? But I hear you have to watch a birthing video?

Do you feel comfortable coming to your family with questions about sexuality? Why or why not?

No. Not with my mom, at least. She blows everything out of proportion and doesn’t take me seriously, anyway. My sister, however, is a different story. I can talk about sex and stuff with her…to a certain extent.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the buffer zone in Massachusetts?

I’m pretty pissed. Yes, it helps the picketers get their point across, but what about the women trying to enter the clinic? The people standing there yelling and holding up those awful signs make the decision that much harder.
Plus, there’s not enough room on the sidewalks to get in (as Lynne said about Portland) and to be completely honest I feel like it’s not safe.
Are they even thinking about both sides of the situation?

Do you have twitter? What was your response to the #YesAllWomen hashtag?

Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of women got their point across. It helped raise awareness. Along with that, it put the spotlight on people that were abusing the tag.
On Instagram @basically_juno posted a picture of her in jeans and a thick strapped tank top that said, “A woman’s place is in the house and the senate.” Under that, a 14 year old boy commented, “Maybe if you didn’t wear slutty clothes u wouldn’t get raped, dumb, fat feminist, #malemasterrace.” It’s disgusting. She’d never met this boy in her life. The #YesAllWomen hashtag exposes that kind of stuff. I love it.
Other tweets:
“@TrapHouseCj: ur upset bc u got raped??? people’s children get kidnapped & murdered everyday and ur crying bc u had sex???k”
“Funny, the thing men fear most about going to jail is the thing women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen” ~No credit, a lot of people tweeted that.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share?

A boy that had a crush on me for two years ran by and slapped my butt when I was reaching for something in my backpack one day during lunch. Apparently he thought he deserved it because he waited for so long. After that, he continued to hit on me for about two months. I’m pretty sure he hit on a few girls after that, too.

At another point in time, I was standing with my friend and a guy came up to us. He said, “You guys have tits buy yourself lunch,” and threw money at us and walked away.

Another time, at a concert I went to, a guy slowly creeped his hands around my waist. At the time, I went along with it. I craved affection. He started saying that he wanted to kiss me (after not even an hour). I had feelings for him for a little while after that. Looking back, it was actually creepy. He was a mutual friend of a girl I knew for four years, but until that day I had no idea he existed.
He just recently stopped flirting with me (on Wednesday), when I told him I wasn’t interested.At work, an older guy (like 40/50/60, he had gray hair) was reported for saying sexual things to girls and being creepy.

Once, I was standing in the back room and I was checking off a checklist of stuff I had to do. I was in his way, so I apologized and moved. His response? “You can stand in my way any time.” That is NOT okay. My coordinator took me off my register once this week to talk to me about it and she was horrified. She’s like a mother to me and she’s being so protective about this.

And then earlier in the school year, a kid (he’s gonna be a senior this year) started talking to me after jazz band rehearsal one day. He talked to me for awhile and at one point he said that he had had sex with another girl and the entire time he was picturing me. He asked me to hang out once or twice…And he also asked me if I masturbated. After awhile we stopped talking. Now, he pretends I don’t exist.

What is your reaction to the word(s), “slut” “whore” etc?

They make my stomach churn. They ALWAYS refer to a woman. If a female decides to engage in a lot of sexual activity with multiple partners, she is labeled as a slut, whereas if a man does that, he is congratulated and put on a pedestal for everyone to look up to. He’s seen as being “more of a man.” It’s sickening. Most derogatory terms like that, “slut, whore, pussy, cunt,” are all FEMALE BASED.
The male side of things, for the most part, is on the “better side of things.” Once again, females are the “weaker sex” and males are the “better” one. Which is why I love the “Like a Girl” campaign.

Any last minute thoughts/things you’d like to share?

a while ago a kid started messaging one of my friends. He started pressuring him and tried forcing him to masturbate over Skype and eventually it escalated to the point that the kid freaked out. He told me that he thought he had an anxiety attack, but I’m not sure. The kid had never talked to my friend before, but he tried using the “no one has to know” line.
I just thought that it was sick and disgusting. It’s probably not relevant though?

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.

Choosing Life by Rachel Troumbly

The first 16 years of my life were something out of a Lifetime Channel movie; alcoholic, misogynist, abusive stepfather, enabling and psychologically damaged mother, and a spoiled, bratty, but obedient younger sister. 

We were upper middle class, well educated, Catholic, and lived in a predominately white rural area right outside of a large city. We were the picket fence kind of people, hiding our secrets behind a nicely manicured lawn, shiny cars, and family portraits with exaggerated smiles. 

I reference all of this in effort to illustrate the fact that I was by no means what the far right would consider the “typical” abortion seeker. I wasn’t poor, uneducated, or a delinquent. I may have had a broken home, but I was smart and motivated. Though my family was quietly prochoice, it wasn’t an issue that I ever considered for myself. 

I moved out at seventeen with two-hundred dollars in cash, a full tank of gas, and only one goal: to be better than the home I came from. Granted, my road to self discovery wasn’t without pit falls. I found the bottom of a bottle, various lovers, and some debt along the way, but I was determined to get where I was going. 

I hear a lot of people talk about the “convenience” of abortion. I want to note here that I’ve had two children, one before and one after my abortion, and neither child came at a convenient time in my life, but neither were aborted. This is because my convenience wasn’t a factor in my decision to abort. What factored into my decision was directly tied to the complications and ensuing health problems that were brought to light in my first pregnancy. 

I was 19 when I found out I was going to be a mother. It came at a time when I was still trying to find my way. I had a new car, a steady job, and a home with my boyfriend. I didn’t want a child, and I considered adoption, but never abortion. 

Not because I was against it, but because I had no reason, in my mind, to do it. The nightmare of my pregnancy prompted me to decide against adoption, as I was too scared to go through pregnancy again and I didn’t want to miss out on having children. 

I suffered a rare complication while pregnant called hypermesis gravidarum that caused me to vomit violently at all hours of the day, for the entire pregnancy. I couldn’t hold down water, let alone food, and I often passed out from dehydration. Since most women experience vomiting in their pregnancy, my doctor thought I was exaggerating the circumstances, so I wasn’t diagnosed until the 7th month. All in all, I lost 12 lbs, and only ended up 7 lbs heavier at the end of my pregnancy than I was before it. 

I wish I could say that my sickness was the worst of my pregnancy problems, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Like most women, I was prepared for the long process of labor and vaginal birth; the idea of a Caesarian never crossed my mind. I didn’t want the epidural either, but after a couple of hours of back labor, I was screaming for the euphoric release of a spinal tap. I had little time to relax before the real nightmare began. After six hours of labor, my doctor informed me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping and that I hadn’t dilated past 2 centimeters. After two shots of pitocin and no improvement, I was prepped for an emergency c-section. 

I was terrified. 

All I could think of was the life of my child. When they finally pulled my little boy out, I held my breath waiting for a sign that he was ok. One, two, three, four… Silence. I heard someone say that his cord was around his neck and I saw his blue face. Tears fell down my cheeks as I lay there, strapped to a table and unable to help him. Then, finally, I heard him scream. It was the greatest sound I’d ever heard. My baby was ok, and after a few days, we headed home to live happily ever after….

     …. For three days. 

Six days after my son was born, my left leg had swollen 3 times its normal size. It had turned red and purple and I sobbed with every step I took. My mother rushed me to the hospital emergency room. After one look, doctors swarmed around me, sticking me with needles, checking my blood pressure, and poking at my feet. I was informed that I had a clot in my femoral artery and my lower calf and they had progressed to a point of imminent danger. 

The doctors said with the size of my leg and the amount of elapsed time, I was a ticking time bomb and could release the clot with the slightest movement. No one knew exactly why I had developed a clot, and from what I learned, a femoral clot was rare. After having it, my chances of future clots increases, since the old clot leaves the major artery corroded and scared. 

I spent seven days in the hospital, with blood draws every six hours, heparin every twelve, and a strict order of bed rest with absolutely no exceptions. Those seven days were torture. Since I’d already left the maternity ward, I wasn’t allowed to keep my son with me. My mother and husband worked, so I saw my baby for a couple hours a day. Outside of that, I was all alone. 

Turns out, I had an undiagnosed blood disorder that causes my blood to clot easily. I was advised to abstain from having more children, as my disorder (known as Factor V Leiden) coupled with the femoral clot, made pregnancy an extremely dangerous endeavor. Unfortunately, the Catholic run hospital wouldn’t preform a tubal until I’d had a second child,  and I couldn’t take any birth control that released hormones without risking further clots. I chose to use condoms as a means of preventing pregnancy from there on out.

My second pregnancy
After my scare, I went on to go to college and I worked full time to raise my son. My husband at the time wasn’t very reliable and rarely held a job, so I took on all of the responsibility. We split up when my son was two. When my son was three, I dated a guy who was very controlling. I wanted out of the relationship and started making plans to leave, but I was keeping the relationship going until I could get my ducks in a row. 

Apparently he knew I wanted to leave, because soon after I found out I was pregnant by him, he revealed to me that he had poked holes in the condoms as a means to get me pregnant so that I would stay. 

I was terrified. Given the situation I was in, my medical condition, and the brush with death from my first pregnancy, I wasn’t prepared to risk another one. I moved in with my family, three hours away, only two days after discovering that I was pregnant. We discussed my options. I knew that the father wouldn’t help with the child, just as my ex husband didn’t help with my son. I had only one year of college under my belt, and couldn’t afford another child. 

At only six weeks pregnant, I was already vomiting day and night, and feared being able to care for myself and my three year old. My aunt told me that she would adopt my child if I wanted, but I was only concerned with the prospect of dying. I didn’t want to leave behind the child that I paid for in blood, sweat and tears. I lived for him. What good was I to him if I died? 

After days of consideration, I chose to have an abortion. My great grandmother, who was Catholic and extremely pro life, stood behind me the whole way. 

The day after my 24th birthday, she and my grandmother drove me to the clinic, three hours away. As we pulled in, I looked out the window to see the pro life protesters lined up on the walk way. 

They yelled at me, begging me to choose a different option, throwing fliers at me. 

I felt the tears running down my face. They don’t know me, I thought. They don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve been through. If they knew, would they still ask me to risk my life for this baby? I couldn’t force my legs to move. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I couldn’t endure the spotlight that they were shining on what was the hardest and most private moment of my life. 

I looked up, with tears staining my eyes, to see my 85 year old great grams. She pulled me to my feet, wrapped her arm around my shoulders, and told me to ignore them. She sat right next to me in that clinic, holding my hand while I filled out my papers. 

I was escorted back for a checkup before receiving an ultrasound. The technician asked if I wanted a copy of the ultrasound, and I said yes. In the back of my mind, I felt like it was my penance to pay, my scarlet letter, a reminder of my sin. After the ultrasound, I was escorted to a psychiatrists office. She asked me why I chose to have an abortion, whether I was forced and the process of the procedure, including diagrams of d&c and the possible side effects. 

The woman gave me phone numbers, literature, and a variety of alternative choices like adoption and raising my child, before sending me back out to the waiting room for a required four hours, encouraging me to consider all given routes before they would continue the procedure. 

When the time came, the nurse came to get me. She explained again the procedure, and the medication options and side effects. I received my dosage and was escorted to the procedure room. It looked like any other room in a hospital. The walls were white, the floor was cold, and there was the unmistakable smell of rubbing alcohol and cleaner. 

I laid down, closed my eyes, and waited. It was over in minutes; quick and painless, a fact that, for a long time, plagued my conscience. I knew the implications of my choice, and the social stigma that it carried with it. I was, and still am, at peace with my choice, but that doesn’t mean that I am without reverence for it. After time in the recovery room, I walked out to my car, with my great grams wrapping her arm around me, drowning out the angry voices of the protesters with her fearlessness. 

She died a month later, not long after telling me how proud she was of my strength and my courage. 

I’m 27 now. 

Last month marked three years since my abortion. Since then, I’ve gotten married to a wonderful man, and we’ve had a child of our own. You might wonder why I could argue my health as a means for abortion, yet risk it in another instance. 

It’s because this time I didn’t have to worry about leaving my child alone in the world. This time, he had a steady, reliable father to love him and raise him. When I chose my abortion, I didn’t disregard life, I simply weighed the life of the 8 week old fetus against not only my own life, but the life of the child that I was already charged with protecting. I weighed how his life would be affected by my death or impacted health, against the life that hadn’t even begun, and couldn’t miss what it didn’t know. 

I know that I made the right choice. I know that it is because of that choice that I can hold my children at night and love them and kiss them. I know that it’s because of my choice that I can give my children two loving parents and a home where they are protected. I know that it’s because of my choice that I can finally reach my goal. My home is better than the one I came from. I love my family and I will continue to put them first until my dying day. 

When it comes down to it, convenience never played a part in my abortion. It would have been most convenient to have one at 19, when I had the world at my fingertips. It would have been convenient to have one at 25, when I was newly married and my child was going to school, leaving me the chance to pursue a degree. 

No, convenience wasn’t a factor, life was. My child’s life, the child with memories and warm hugs and sparkling blue eyes, the one I bled for… His life mattered. This is why I can confidently proclaim that I am pro LIFE; because I chose to protect the lives that I was already responsible for. 
     I am only one of thousands of stories, each unique to the individual. Our voices have been silenced by those who refuse to listen, but I refuse to remain quiet. I refuse to return to the shackles of slavery, where my body is synonymous with an incubator. I’ve heard that its easy for me to fight for abortion, because I got to be born. I think this is inaccurate. I think it’s easy for people to argue for life, because they are, in fact, living. 

Life isn’t biology. 

It’s not a heartbeat, or the air in your lungs. When a person is only kept alive by machines, they aren’t living, because there is no life to live. There are no memories for that person, no laughter, no warmth. They survive only at the mercy of the tubes that tie them to the living world. They know nothing beyond the dark abyss behind their closed eyes. 

It is only the person who’s mind is aware of what would be missed, that can argue for it. 

If they had never lived, they’d never know it. 



Rachel Troumbly is a 27 year old psychology major living in the frozen tundra of Northern Michigan. When she’s not nose deep in her studies or chasing after her two boys, she can typically be found rummaging through thrift stores (pack-ratting), mastering her culinary skills (hello hot pockets) and attempting to blur the lines of societal expectations by the glowing light of her keyboard. If all goes well, Rachel hopes to one day open up a shelter for abused women that will help them to start a new life. 

Similar Experiences, but Never the Same by Renee Bracey Sherman

A post originally posted at Exhale and Abortion Gang, cross-posted with permission of the author.
Indifferent. As I rode home from the abortion clinic and the days after the procedure, I felt indifferent. I had been told to expect overwhelming feelings of sadness and physical pain, yet I felt none. I felt fine. Not better than normal, but also not worse than normal. Indifferent. It was not at all what I was told to expect, by the doctors, the nurses, or what I had heard from friends.
I grew up in what many would call a ‘liberal’ family. We were middle class; my parents are both nurses, college educated, we lived in the suburbs of a major city, and we were a very open family. My parents are both ‘pro-choice’ and would have supported my decision when I was 19 years old to have an abortion, yet, why did it take me six years to tell them about it?
My experience wasn’t unlike other women’s; I had a steady boyfriend, I was on birth control, but I missed a few weeks of pills and became pregnant. At sixteen, when I told my mom about a friend’s abortion decision, she told me that it was a personal choice and one she supported. So, I should have been able to go to my parents when I needed support, right?
It just wasn’t that easy for me. Many of my cousins had children in their teens and were unable to finish high school and college, yet I was on track to do both. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother, I felt that if I told her that I was pregnant, I would let her down, make her mad. I felt that she and my father would be disappointed, even though they would have supported my decision.
Even until recently, I was afraid to tell anyone, for fear of the reaction that I would get, or the way they would view me. I felt that if I told my story, I would be wearing the scarlet ‘A’ forever. I felt that I would be one of the vicious women that senators and representatives talk about who ‘abort their babies to fit into a prom dress’. That kind of rhetoric hurts me because that wasn’t what happened. How could I make others understand without having to share the whole story of the abuse I had endured during that relationship, how to say that it was my choice and it was a way to get out of a really bad situation. It’s hard to justify your actions without giving away a huge part of yourself every time.
Even though some people may see me differently after knowing I had an abortion,  I’ve chosen to share my story to let others in the community know that abortion shouldn’t be a taboo subject. We can comfort one another and change the conversation. We can shape what people hear about our lives and our stories.
After talking to many of my friends, family members and co-workers, I found out that almost everyone has an experience with abortion; whether they themselves had one, a partner, a parent or a sibling, it is not uncommon. It is an experience that crosses all racial lines, the gender spectrum, class backgrounds and sexual orientations; yet, we don’t talk about it. I understand that there are many reasons some folks won’t want to share about their experience. Even if I don’t hear their story, I want them to know they are not alone. We’ve been through a similar experience and there is love and support available to you.
I recently told my mother about my abortion experience and she cried, not because she was mad, but because she was proud of me for having the strength to make a tough decision on my own. She wished she could have been there to support me. When I asked her if she was disappointed in me, she said, “No honey, I am proud of who you have become. You made a decision for you.”
Abortion is different for everyone. Each abortion is like stripes on a zebra; while on the surface they may seem similar, no two experiences are exactly the same. I hope that in the future, the abortion debate moves from above the heads of the people it affects, down to a conversational level, where women and family members who have experienced abortion can talk about how to best support each other. Our voices matter. Let’s listen.
Renee is from Chicago, Illinois where she graduated from Northeastern Illinois University, studying economics and sociology. Renee found a passion in working to break down barriers of multiple oppressions that women/people of color/LGBT/low income/immigrant folks face each day by sharing stories. Renee currently lives in San Francisco and volunteers with the Bay Area Doula ProjectExhale and ACCESS. Renee hopes that by sharing her personal abortion experience, she can help move the conversation past partisan lines and to a compassionate level.