Draw the Line

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Topics: Abortion, Access and Affordability
Area of Life Affected: Dignity, Other Children


Two Pink Lines

As I watched the two pink lines appear in my pregnancy test, several emotions passed through me; joy, fear, and despair. Joy because I am first and foremost a Mama, and fear because I could not at the time have another baby.

“All these women had to drive a long way for a five-minute class just to make an appointment.”

How would I afford it? How did this happen? My boyfriend and I had been so careful. And then I felt despair because the timing was so off, and I knew my boyfriend would be extraordinarily unhappy with the turn of events.

It took a week of tears, the thought of losing a man I loved, and anxiety over how I would take care of a third child, for me to conclude that the most grown-up decision for myself and my two daughters was to abort the fetus inside of me. I have a history of miscarriages; I prayed and hoped that my body would not be compatible with this pregnancy.

I suffered through hormone surges, morning sickness, breast tenderness, and the knowledge that, after all this time, I was finally carrying a viable pregnancy. I did not want to be a single mom again, and I knew my boy did not want the baby and could not handle the thought of having a child. I swayed between saying, “Fuck you! This is MY baby!” and “I can’t do this right now, I can’t handle doing this alone again, I need it over with.” My mind raced with all the possibilities as I waited for Friday, February 10, when I would have three days to deal with what was about to happen.

I talked to the fetus, I told it I loved it but couldn’t keep it. I spoke to my Goddess, and I prayed for guidance, feeling torn between this being a punishment or just horrible luck.

The abortion process in Utah is ridiculous. There are only two clinics that perform the procedure, and women come from miles around to obtain their services. When I went in for the “informed consent class” (a class that tells you what will happen and what your options are), I was pissed. I was a grown woman, almost 29, and I knew what was happening. Thankfully, the woman who did the class was an older nurse, and she sped through it.

What was disturbing was that there were women there from Ogden, two hours away, and Wyoming, two to three hours away. All these women had to drive a long way for a five-minute class just to make an appointment. And after the informed consent class, there is a 24-hour waiting period before they can legally do the abortion. (In May 2012 this law changed from 24 hours to 72 hours!) In 2009 there were 3,665 abortions reported in Utah; the regulations are illogical, especially with how many women seek abortion services. In southern Utah, there are no clinics at all.

I made the appointment to have the abortion. I was firm in my resolve. This was the right decision for me.

He held my hand tightly as we parked in the underground lot that Friday morning. I had a moment to be pissed off that I had to go in a back way just in case there were people protesting. This was my body, my right, my choice, no matter how sick I felt about it. I have always been pro-choice and doing this made me even more so.

My boyfriend was quiet as we checked in, and I have to say the price for the abortion made me feel violated: 425 dollars? How do victims or underage girls pay for such a thing?

I had to have an ultrasound first and could only be grateful they did not make me look at it, then blood tests. I was shaking, I was so nervous. A nice older woman, the doctor who would be performing the abortion, tried to calm me down. It worked. She seemed so confidant and secure in what was about to happen, I felt some of the tension leave me.

I went into the little room and undressed from the waist down and got on the table. My boyfriend held my hand the entire time; they sat him in a chair that faced me and the wall so he could not see what was going on. I remember my legs were freezing and shaking, held in place by cold plastic stirrups. They gave me laughing gas, but no pain killers; there was no option for anesthesia.

The doctor told me it would be three minutes and only hurt as bad as my worse menstrual cramps. I could feel my heart racing; my menstrual cramps, without birth control, are terrible. I had a suspicion this was going to really hurt.

I tried to breathe normally as they started. There are almost no words for what I went through, it hurt worse than I could imagine, like three minutes of condensed labor pains without a break. I could not breathe as tears leaked down my face. I remember glancing over at my boyfriend for a second and taking some comfort in the fact that his eyes were red rimmed. Afterwards I sat curled in a reclining chair, feeling nauseous, with a heating pad on my abdomen. Tears were still streaming down my face as I rocked, thinking to myself, “I am so sorry,” over and over again.

Thirty minutes later they asked me to check my bleeding, and it was a lot, way more than I should have been. They had to redo the process. They told me it would not hurt as much because the tube they were going to use was smaller, but it did. I went to a place far away in my mind, like this could not be happening to me, this had to be some other woman writhing in pain, not getting enough oxygen, and sobbing.

The second time everything went fine. I was released 45 minutes later. I never want to have to go through that again.

Was this painful and horrible? Yes. Do I regret it: NEVER. This was right for me and it was my choice. I will defend the right for anyone to have an abortion.

The experience is different for every woman. Just because you feel sadness or grief about a decision doesn’t mean it is wrong. Sadness does not equal guilt or signs of wrong doing. Just because you feel relief or you don’t feel anything at all doesn’t mean you are heartless or evil. We need to lose the stigma surrounding abortion. Women everywhere need access to safe and legal reproductive health care.

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