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Sharing Our Stories, cont'd.

Behind every abortion is a real woman’s life and her story. 

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I had my first abortion at the age of 18 ...

"I had my first abortion at the age of 18 and the last at the age of 36. According to some, I am a "serial" aborter, meaning I have had more than one. I've been thinking about this status recently for a lot of different reasons. It seems to me that when the abortion debate get heated, like it is currently with the anti-choice activity in the House, the narratives that are used in defense of abortion tend to circle around women who have been raped, or women whose health becomes endangered because of the pregnancy.

I feel there's a robust silence around women whose pregnancy happened because neither she nor her partner used birth control (that would be me.)

Before I go on, my abortion experiences were fine. I felt anger with myself, then acceptance, then wonder at the pyrotechnics that my body was capable of. I felt respect for the health of my body and its capacity. I was blessedly cared for, given pain meds, treated with respect, believed when I said abortion was what I wanted, and that I heard a voice of certainty speaking loudly and clearly to me. It was saying: abort. You don't want children. It and I consulted. And we had full consensus. And I have never had any reason to look back.

I only do so when theocrats start muttering amongst themselves about my decision and ways they might prohibit it. Ways they might punish me retroactively. Abortion is legal... now. If the republicans (and conservative democrats )have their way, I will become a criminal, retroactively.

William Saletan, the conservative columnist, suggested that one of the things the pro-choice movement could do in order to forge a "common ground" is to keep a registry of women who were "repeat offenders". Single out the politically indefensible ones, he was urging, so that the those of you who aren't 'like that' won't have to waste valuable political capital defending the weak links- the women who just couldn't get it together enough to use contraceptives. Single the repeat offenders out. Draw a bright line.

I worry that this is happening, unofficially, every time abortion is justified on the grounds of health exceptions or the high incidence and tragically common crime of rape. Against the tragedy of rape, or preeclampsia or the type of birth defect that is only revealed as gestational development progresses- against these stories, how is something as common and mundane as immaturity defended?

Because that was my problem. I was not mature. I probably suffered from episodic depression. I don't know why I did not embrace consequence. I don't know why I was so faithless, so unbelieving of the wonderful future, where I would exist, but better. I was not mature. And my reproductive system was. But they were not connected. I was not allied with myself in that wonderful way, and so the power I had to (apparently) reproduce easily, so easily...was just confusing to me.

Should there be a bright line between me and the women who must abort in her last trimester because things have gone so horribly wrong? Is she indeed tragic, and I just ...pitiable?

In the mosaic I see in my mind of all the circumstances in the world that compose women's reproductive stories- rape, immaturity, miscarriage, inattentiveness, preeclampsia, fetal death, impulsiveness- where does my tessarae get placed? Who do I stand next to? Am I allowed up? Am I defensible? Will you affirm my decision, no matter how stupid, hot-headed, orgasmic, depressed or self-doubting I was? Can I stand next to you?

Will you defend me?" –- Elizabeth Creely

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I was married, but my husband and I were not eager to have children ...

"I was married, but my husband and I were not eager to have children. At this point, we had been married for 16 years and our lives felt complete and were enjoyable just as they were. Neither of us had ever really entertained thoughts of children, nor were we "good" with children, both having essentially been only children ourselves. My doctor had temporarily taken me off oral contraceptives (a common practice at the time because of the high dosage) and I had some other issues with my weight. In short, I had no other form of contraception at the time. (Diaphragms and IUD's were hard for me to use). We tried the form of "rhythm" method and it failed (of course).

I became pregnant at age 39. My husband was quite upset about it and I was ambivalent at best. I knew I did not want to raise a child by myself with a disinterested father. Furthermore, family issues would have so complicated our relationship that we may very well have ended up divorced--not a pleasant thought for someone who already did not want to be left with a child to raise alone. Furthermore, our lifestyle was pleasant and we were unwilling to change. All of these factors would not bode well for us as parents.

I was glad that Preterm (and my health insurance) existed for me as a viable option. I was given extensive counseling before the procedure, and steps were taken to be sure it was truly my choice. I was also questioned as to what sort of contraception I would be using in the future so as not to repeat the experience again. Everyone was wonderful and understanding to both of us, the facilities were completely up to clinic standards and the aftercare was excellent. At no time was I ever coerced or influenced--and was given ample opportunity to change my mind if I so desired. I was very grateful that I was able to have a safe, legal abortion procedure--and that I had the choice available to me." -- anonymous

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ABORTION. ...Well what can I say? ...

"ABORTION. ...Well what can I say? I know exactly what to say... I am thankful for the opportunity to have had a choice! I know that sounds crazy, however, it could have been worst. Someone could be dictating what I should and should not do with my body. I had an abortion at the age of 16 years old and I remember being so scared and nervous. I was in high school making plans for college and now pregnancy! I went to Preterm and my worries were soon alleviated. I was welcomed by women letting me know it was okay for me to have a choice. Now 16 years later I am have a Bachelors Degree in Nursing and currently studying to be an Advanced Practice Nurse. This was my abortion....MY LIFE!" -- Angel

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I wanted to space my children at least several years apart ...

"I wanted to space my children at least several years apart so that I would have ample time to spend with each one in the first few years. I became pregnant while nursing my first child (I didn't realize that I could be nursing and take birth control) and decided that I really did not want another child at that time. I am so greatful that Preterm was there for me to obtain a safe abortion. I did choose to have a second child a few years later and it all worked out the way I planned. I have no regrets." -- Bonnie

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Well, I guess it would start years ago ...

"Well, I guess it would start years ago when I had my first child at 16 years old, and right after that I got knocked up again and I had to handle it, but I was late having the abortion. The older I got, I told myself I would never do that again. It haunted me. I promised God I wouldn't have another abortion. And from that promise I made, I birthed four more children to the world back to back. My last one, who is eight months old, took a lot out of me and I can't go through that again. I fell into a depression. I'm a single mother. I mean, their father is there, but I do everything-I even do his job. With each kid that has gotten harder and harder to do. This decision, to have an abortion again now, was hard, but it would be wrong to add another person into this situation. I can't take any more away from the children I have. I mean, everyone is eating just fine now, but to add another mouth ... who would be willing to share? And why should my decision become a part of their stress? I can't do that to them. We barely made it through the last time. I'm going to make sure we make it through this time. " -- Shawna

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In the 60s ...

"In the 60s when I was in high school, my best friend became pregnant. The only person she told was her mother, a woman with mental health problems and no money. All her mother could do was share some folk remedies and advise her to 'do heavy exercise and you'll lose the baby.'

Years later, my friend told me she followed her mother's advice. Moving furniture and turning mattresses was part of the therapy. As predicted, the following morning she began to bleed. She decided not to go the emergency room immediately because she wanted to be sure she would lose the baby. While, waiting, she went to the movies and sat through two shows with blood soaking into towels. When she was sure that enough time/blood passed, she went to the hospital. By the time she got there, my friend was so weak she had to be hospitalized.

I have had the privilege of volunteering and then working at Planned Parenthood. Every day I was grateful that there is safe and legal help for any young girl who might be in a situation similar to my friend's. Today I would like to thank Preterm for everything you do." -- anonymous

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I wasn't pro choice ...

"I wasn't pro choice. But having a baby by a boy that wasn't going to take care of it, made me realize. Bringing a child into this world IS a wonderful thing, but having one that wouldn't get the life or love it truly deserved, I couldn't follow threw. It was my choice. And Preterm was very understanding and just all around nice. I was confident and I know women that's had them years ago and still are blessed with children. I plan to have kids, but at 19, life's just started. Abortion is not a sin. It is a sacrifice that woman make, and comes with depression. but i never was depressed. Because the boy I loved has two kids and asked me for proof that I was when he went to the doctors with me. I knew dealing with someone that wasn't man enough to step up, wasn't worth it.

I now am pro-choice because it's your life, and everybody has a story. I was in a relationship for 4 years and he cheated and got a girl pregnant twice then me and i knew he didn't take care of hers and he said he wasn't taking care of mines. It's a harsh world as it is, and having a baby would of trapped me with him and made me go crazy because this boy played me and wasted so much of my time. So I never regret what I do and everything I do in life, is my choice. And my lesson's learned." -- anonymous

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I had an abortion in 1975 ...

"I had an abortion in 1975 and was fortunate that it was legal and available. I knew as soon as I got pregnant that I would have an abortion. I was in college and working at a great job that I hoped would become my career. I hear abortion described as tragic and a decision that women will regret. That's not my experience. In fact, I was proud of my decision. It made me feel strong and confident. Sometimes I regret that I never had any children, but I never regretted having an abortion at a time in my life when I was unprepared and unwilling to raise a child." -- Linda

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