Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Story

In light of recent events – specifically Dr. Tiller’s murder, federal marshals being removed from the aide of Dr. Carhart, and the ongoing violence focused on reproductive health clinics – I’ve decided to tell my own story. I believe that it is extremely important for women (and men) to come out and talk about how their reproductive health clinics have helped them and why they are a positive necessity in our society. We should all tell our own stories.

My story isn’t a pretty packaged story about how I was a victim of incest or rape. Not that these stories are ever pretty, but they are the ones that so often come to view when we are talking about women who need to be able to have abortions. The stories of innocence lost. The women who “deserve” to have a pregnancy terminated. What about the rest of us? We all need control over our own bodies.

I expect that a lot of people won’t agree with my decisions. And I also expect that there may be some backlash because of it. But I refuse to hide when the people who are trying to help women are being murdered.

I tell this story from a sex positive viewpoint; the idea that there is nothing inherently evil about sex. In fact there is a lot of good in it, but there are risks as well.

When I was 18 I was a typical teenager. I thought I was invincible. I thought that nothing bad could happen. And so, even though I knew full well what the consequences were, I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend. I was not a victim of abstinence-only education, I had comprehensive sex ed starting in 5th grade. I was also raised in a sex positive household where information about sex and condoms were always available. I did know better. But I was in love and the sex was fantastic.

What I didn’t know was that I was with a young man who was also extremely fertile, as many 18 year olds are. He hadn’t told me that he had gotten two other women pregnant before me. And he definitely should have known better. But we’re both to blame for what happened. A couple of months before my 19th birthday I got pregnant.

I had always thought that if I got pregnant before I was ready that I would have an abortion. It would be an easy decision. When it actually happened I was struck by how difficult the decision actually was. After all, this life had been created out of love.

After thinking about it for a few weeks though I knew that it was the right decision. I had not been planning on bringing a baby into the world and was smoking at the time. Not a great way to start a pregnancy. My mom, a very supportive woman in general, refused to support me emotionally or financially if I chose to have the child. My boyfriend whom I loved dearly, all of a sudden disappeared when I became pregnant. I had my whole life ahead of me. And even dedicating 9 months to pregnancy was a burden my body could not handle. The first couple months that I did go through were awful and I knew it would only get worse. My body has always had issues with health and pain.

I did not know how to go about seeking an abortion. I am so incredibly lucky that it all turned out as well as it did considering I was doing my research via the yellow pages and, being a broke teenager, cost was my main concern. Had I lived in the Bible Belt instead of a suburb of Chicago I’m sure I would have ended up talking to a crisis center that would’ve misinformed me about pregnancy and abortion. And in my relatively fragile state, that would have been very difficult to deal with.

Ten days after my 19th birthday my best friend took me to a women’s reproductive health clinic. There were lots of women with boyfriends in the waiting room. I was the only one with my best friend.

I don’t really remember much of that day except for having a difficult time peeing in the cup, accidentally stepping on a button on the floor in the operating room that made a loud noise, waking up in another room with my underwear back on, and my best friend taking care of me that evening (mmm Blue’s Clues macaroni and cheese). But it all went pretty well.

As the years went on I became pretty loyal to Planned Parenthood. I really wish I had gotten the procedure there, but I’m happy that it went well. Planned Parenthood has been there for me through thick and thin. They’ve helped me through condom breakage, STI testing, genital warts, pap smears, putting me on the pill to prevent pregnancy, and then keeping me on it to prevent ovarian cysts. They’ve been there when I’ve cried, they’ve laughed at my jokes, and they’ve been non-judgmental of my lifestyle choices. They’ve been like a really good friend to me. And as a good friend I’ve tried my best to give back as well. I’ve donated time and money to them. I ran the local college campus chapter of VOX (Planned Parenthood’s student outreach) and I’ve worked as an escort keeping myself between women entering and leaving the clinic and those who did not agree with why they thought those women were there. I will always support Planned Parenthood and I hope that they are always able to support me.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.