I guess I am.
When I was 19 years old, I had an abortion.
This is 19-year-old me.
Let me set the stage.
When I was 18, I was engaged. I was also coming off of the most hellish experience of my life, having serious emotional issues, and I dropped out of college to move back home and try to win back my fiance after he dumped me. It did not work. I decided to go back to school (at ACU), and I was determined to have fun, to be normal, to not obsess over the relationship I had believed was "the one", and I packed up my car, drove to Abilene, and moved into my dorm room.
I was anorexic as ever, and I was on medication, as usual. And, the April before the '09-'10 school year started, I had my first alcoholic beverage at a party. It was a green apple Smirnoff Ice, and I legitimately got tipsy off of that one bottle. Following that, I continued to drink, and I was both scared and enthralled. By the time September rolled around, I was going to parties, seeing someone (sort of), and drinking on a regular basis. I made up for all the calories in alcohol by not eating. Because... yeah.
That fall, I had sex with someone I was casually seeing. I had NEVER done that before. The only sex I had had prior to that experience was with my fiance, whose virginity I took, and the rape that nearly destroyed me. I was also still reeling from the aftermath of the rape and my religious beliefs, and I was not really sure how I felt about all of it, but I knew I felt guilty deep down. The casual relationship ended, and I felt lost, but continued speaking to my ex and hoping he would love me again. Then, I met Spencer.
Spencer had NO relationship experience. He also had no clue how to even begin a relationship. I had to convince him that it was okay to not kiss me after several weeks, which ended with him kissing me, getting out of my car, and freaking out.
Spencer didn't want to be in a relationship for his own (hilarious and stupid) reason, but he changed his mind and we made it official, and I talked on the phone to his mom. We were cute kids. We were giddy and silly and unsure, but we were so happy. Then, someone from my past did a very fucked up thing.
A member of my previous church knew Spencer's dad and called him to let him know that, upon seeing that Spencer and I were in a relationship (which, how did you know that? Why were you stalking my facebook?), he felt it his duty to inform Spencer's parents that I was a crazy, horrible slut who had tried to ruin a boy's reputation two years earlier by "claiming he raped me".
He had, in fact, raped me, on multiple occasions. Nobody knew all the details, but word spreads fast in a church, and since I had basically disappeared (after being asked to leave to preserve everyone's dignity... long story. Later time), it was assumed that I had run off to continue having pre-marital sex like the whore I was, and that the boy I had accused of raping me was an innocent young man who had been brought down by my destructive ways.
Spencer's parents were concerned, and rightfully so, because they had no idea who I was or what had really happened. Things eventually settled, and we continued to date. We were giddy. He told me he loved me. I said it back. To this day, I maintain that I loved him because he was so unashamedly HIM, and he was a very sweet, funny, goofy, handsome young man. And, because we were together and my thoughts on sex had shifted, we began sleeping together.
Here is the part where I stand the fuck up for Spencer, who is a good person, treated me well, defended me on several occasions, and loved me to the best of his ability. NONE OF THIS was because Spencer didn't care about me, or because he was an asshole, or because he was somehow guilting me into something I didn't want to do.
Now that it's been established that I loved him and he loved me, let's just get to the point.
That Christmas, I flew out to Virginia to meet his family. I was having a blast. We played games and baked and I was so happy. Unfortunately, I was also still struggling with the aftermath of the rape, dealing poorly with my depression and yet to be diagnosed PTSD, and while there, all of us did copious amounts of drinking. At some point on that trip, Spencer and I had sex, and I got pregnant. I had no idea. Neither did he. Nobody knew, and I thought nothing of it, because we had been having sex for months and nothing had happened.
Then, later in December, I began feeling really weird. I was sick and couldn't get well. Remember, at this point, that I was severely anorexic, and getting sick was not out of the norm.
We got back to school, and the sickness continued. Not morning sickness, mind you. I felt like I had the flu. I was going to parties and drinking and going to class, but I was in my own personal hell. Slowly, I began to miss class and have physical symptoms of something wrong in my uterus and/or tubes, and I started to get scared. At one point, I realized I might have an ovarian cyst, and I made an appointment at the local women's center.
After a miserable up-the-shoot wanding to ultrasound my insides, the nurse said, "No, everything's fine, and your pregnancy seems to be coming along just fine".
In that moment, I felt like I was going to die, and I actively considered walking out of that room and swallowing every pill in my dorm room.
I asked the woman what to do, told her my family would disown me and my school would expel me, and she told me she had been in my situation. She said I would be okay. I begged her to tell me where I could "fix the problem", and she directed me to Planned Parenthood.
I walked out of that room, into the waiting room where Spencer was sitting anxiously. He had missed class to come to this appointment, because we feared this could be cancer. He loved me. He was trying to help. I couldn't say a word to him, so I dragged him down to my car and broke the news... sort of. I told him the baby was already dead and that I had to go get it removed. He was terrified. He was hurting. I dropped him off at his dorm and went back to my own, and I began planning my next steps.
I googled how and where to get an abortion. I noticed that my local PP did not offer abortion services. I planned to drive three hours to Arlington to get an abortion at one of the few clinics that offered D&Cs. Out of fear and with desperation, I scheduled an appointment. Then, just to be safe, I scheduled one at the local PP as well. When I got there, they did another ultrasound, and we discovered that I was 8 weeks along. I sobbed. I nearly threw up. The nurse looked at me, full of sympathy. She told me quietly that they offered a pill that I could take that would terminate the pregnancy, because I wasn't very far along and could avoid the entire D&C mess. She told me I had to wait three days. I told her I was sure, scheduled the appointment, and went home.
I don't remember much about the next few days. I told my best friend and Spencer what was going on. Then, I began to have morning sickness. I stopped going to class. I dropped half of my classes. On the third day, I walked into the clinic, stone-faced and empty. I took the pill, went back to my dorm, grabbed towels and paper towels, and turned on my TV. Over the next few days, I went through the most unspeakably awful thing I had ever experienced. I felt like I was dying. It happened slowly, then all at once, and I felt like it would never end. My body twisted and ripped and everything came out of me, and I bled and sobbed and thought about killing myself. I didn't talk to Spencer. I didn't talk to anyone. Finally, when it ended just before Valentine's Day, I went back to class and saw Spencer for the first time. I told him it was finished and he kissed my forehead. I didn't know what to think. I had been raised to believe that what I had just done was murder, but it didn't feel like murder. It just felt like hurt and anger and fear.
As much as I cared about Spence, that was effectively the end of our relationship as I knew it. We stayed together for another year, but it felt different. I was messed up. My mind couldn't comprehend what had happened. I finally told my mother, and she accused me of murdering her first grandchild. Again, I debated killing myself.
That summer I was roofied at a party. I got alcohol poisoning and nearly died on a friend's couch. It was at that point that my partying turned into legitimate alcoholism. It got worse and worse, and I stopped drinking in March of this year because I had effectively destroyed my life. That summer was the turning point. That was when it started to go downhill.
Because I had that abortion, I was able to continue school. I realized that I needed to change my major, I went to therapy, I changed my medication, and most importantly, I did not kill myself. I was struggling, but I still had a relationship with my family and Spencer. I got a job, I made money, I tried to get myself back into normalcy.
I have PTSD related to that entire winter, which was compounded with the previously diagnosed PTSD from the rape. My eating disorder capitalized on that hellish time period, and I dragged myself into the depths for what I had done. Spencer and I broke up. I dated someone else. I drank myself into oblivion and dropped out of school to go to treatment. Again, I became pregnant, and this time I miscarried at six months. Since my period had already disappeared due to my worsening anorexia and newfound bulimia, I had no idea until I woke up one morning in the guest room of my ex's mom, bleeding out. I went to the ER and was told I had lost my baby. I didn't even know that I had one, and when they estimated the gestation, I wanted to die. I nearly bled to death that day. I had gone into labor that morning and then miscarried. My body didn't know what to do. A few weeks later, I was admitted to Monte Nido, and nothing was ever the same.
I do not regret what I did. I do not regret how it played out. I do not, for one second, think I would be better off having kept it or given it up for adoption. I believe with all of my heart that I made the right decision.
It was the most painful decision of my life, and I will never fully recover from it. It wasn't fun. It wasn't a joyful murder spree. I didn't do it out of spite or hatred or a political agenda. I did it because I was a scared teenager with no options and suicidal ideations. I did it so that I wouldn't die at my own hand. I did it because it was the right thing to do.
You can disagree with me all you want.
You can hate me for it.
It happened, though. And it happened because I had access to healthcare and help, and as much as you might think it was wrong, it saved me, and I owe Planned Parenthood my life for that.
I had to get this off my chest, because there is currently a war being waged on women in this country. They want to take away our options, our choice, our rights. They are banning abortions at 6 weeks, meaning I would have killed myself and destroyed so many lives in the process. If the Ohio law that just passed had been in place in Texas in 2010, I would be dead.
Think about that next time you feel like advocating for the closure of Planned Parenthood. Was an 8-week-old pregnancy more important than the life of a 19 year old? Is your moral and biblical agenda more just than my existence? Did my family deserve to lose their daughter, grandaughter, sister, niece? Are you so heartless that you can't see, just for one second, why I made that choice?
Spencer, if you read this, I am so sorry that I didn't communicate with you more during that time. You were really trying, and I blamed you for not being there when in reality, I couldn't let you be there, because I felt like I had ruined your life. I will always love you and appreciate you and all you did for me those years. I am eternally grateful for your love and friendship during that time and after, and I hope you can forgive me for all that happened in those two years.
Mom, if you read this, please know that I don't hate you for what you said in anger, and I love you more than you could ever know.
Dad, if you read this, I'm sorry for breaking your heart. I hope you understand.
There is so much more that I could say, but I think this is enough, and now that it's been said, some piece of me feels like I can breathe again.
By the way? That clinic was shut down by Greg Abbott's bill.
This is why I advocate.
I am alive, and I have them to thank.