The recent posts on reproductive rights and abortion hit close to home for me so I have some pretty strong feelings about it.
Last year when it looked like the ACA might be repealed I decided to share my story on facebook. I thought I would share that here too. Maybe it will provide some with a perspective they haven't considered before...
There is a lot of talk right now about a female's reproductive rights and more specifically, her right to have a safe, legal abortion. It seems like everyone has an opinion, but few of us have actually had an abortion. Certainly no male has and only a small percentage of women have and that's a good thing. I can't claim to be one of those that have needed an abortion either, but I came very close to having one...and I remember being in that place; the fear, the uncertainty, the guilt, the sadness. In that respect I think I can relate to what many women across the world experience.
My husband and I spent over three years and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. A week after undergoing our very last fertility procedure I found out I was pregnant by taking an at home pregnancy test. At my two week follow up appointment we discovered I was carrying twins. At twelve weeks we found out that I was in danger of miscarrying and after a surgery, put on strict bedrest. At 16 weeks I was hospitalized with a dangerous medical condition that put both my life and the babies lives in jeopardy. At that time we were told that if at any point my health became in immediate danger prior to 23 weeks gestation (which at the time was the earliest viability for an infant) the pregnancy would have to be terminated; which is to say that the fetuses would have to be aborted...but we don't like to use that term because women who have an abortion are what...Careless? Irresponsible? Coldhearted monsters? Murderers even?...Except that a lot of us aren't. We are the ones that have serious medical complications. We are the 1 in 5 women who will be raped in our lifetime. We are the ones who for many, many reasons have to make the very hard, very sad, very personal decision to terminate our pregnancies.
We were lucky to have our babies make it past the 23 week gestation mark and avoid an abortion, but not by much. And it has been a long, hard road, but today they are happy, healthy, sort of normal (what exactly is normal and are any of them really, actually normal?? ) thirteen (now fourteen) year olds.
There are a couple reasons I chose to tell this story at this time. One is the political situation that is unfolding in front of our eyes in a very real and terrifying way. The other reasons are more personal.
After delivering my children I was warned that there is a very real possibility that should I become pregnant again, I may not survive that pregnancy. I made the responsible decision to choose an IUD as a contraception method, which is 99% effective for 5+ years. I am fortunate that my insurance covers this option because I'm unable to take birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptive options, and condoms only have an 82% efficacy rate and pose too high of a risk of pregnancy for someone like me. Without ACA insurance covering contraceptives, I would not be able to afford an IUD and would potentially be in a very dangerous and risky situation. I suppose abstinence is an option but I'm not sure preaching it is any more effective to married thirty year olds than it is for teenagers, which is to say that it isn't realistic and doesn't really work. If you disagree consider that our public school systems teach abstinence and look at our teen pregnancy statistics.
The other reason for writing this story was prompted by some recent diagnostic tests. During those tests we discovered that my IUD was missing. Poof, vanished, closed up shop, skipped town...which is rare to have happen, but I can testify that it can and indeed does happen. To break this down, it means that sometime between June of 2015 and January of 2017, I somehow expelled my IUD without knowing. I have been without contraception for up to eighteen months. Eighteen months!!! What if I had gotten pregnant during that time??? Well...if I had gotten pregnant I would have had to choose between attempting to carry a baby that would very likely be born very premature, if it survived at all, while risking my life, and potentially leaving two twelve year old children without a mother...or I would have had to choose that very hard, very sad, very personal choice to have an abortion which would make me what?...Careless? Irresponsible? A coldhearted monster? A murderer even? Nah, because I have a legitimate reason, right? I had a legitimate reason, right? It's easier to justify when you know my history....but it's the same choice thousands of women have had to make and it's that choice many judge them on without knowing their history and reasons. And frankly, it isn't any our business unless they choose to share those details as I have. Furthermore, who are any of us to judge?
I never thought I would have or need an abortion. I'm quite certain the vast majority of women who find themselves pregnant and have terminated their pregnancies, either by choice or necessity, never thought they would be in that position either. No woman ever wants to experience that kind of physical and emotional pain, but I'm grateful we live in a country where women have access to safe medical care for those services...and while I will not likely be one of the women who will have the need for an abortion, l will never take that right away from the women that do...at least not until I have lived their life and walked a thousand miles in their shoes.
I will warn you in advance, this is a deeply personal post and I will not tolerate any negative or inappropriate comments on this post.
I call the insane incompetent religious criminal theocrats who would force you to stay pregnant TAMPON TERRORISTS. ...IOWA law just made 6 WEEK ABORTIONS illegal. ....of course our lawyers are filing lawsuits against the criminal female Governor who is betraying all women's rights. ....I block all who interfere with women's rights protecting my 2 daughters thereby 43&24
I got unintentionally pregnant at 23. I intended to give the baby up for adoption, since my best friend's older sister was looking for a baby.
At 4 months gestation, I started bleeding, so I went to the nearest hospital. They put in an IV, and that's it. I waited, and cried, and waited more. Finally, a compassionate nurse told me that since it was a Catholic hospital, they wouldn't treat me until the fetus showed no sign of life... and the bleeding was just getting worse. She gave me the address for Planned Parenthood, and I'm quite sure she must have called to tell them I was on my way.
I snuck out of the hospital, wrapped up as much as possible because I was bleeding through everything, caught a taxi and went to Planned Parenthood. Once there, I had to get through the protesters, while wrapped in blood-stained sheets, while they called me unspeakable things and screamed at me not to kill my (dying or dead) baby.
The front desk took my ID, said they'd talk about everything else later, and got me in to the doctor immediately. I barely remember the actual procedure, but afterwards, they set up a reasonable payment program, set up an appointment for a further checkup, and one of the nurses claimed she lived near the university and dropped me off close by the dorm. Oh, and they WASHED MY CLOTHES. Damp is immensely better than bloody.
I paid them off slowly. The bill from the hospital was simply ignored, other than my phone call telling them to fuck off for nearly letting me die.
I had 2 more miscarriages, earlier in pregnancy, when I tried with my (now ex) husband. Neither required medical treatment, since they were first trimester. I just have too much autoimmunity, and my body rejects the fetus.
I don't tolerate hormonal birth control, I can't get IUDs because they are contraindicated for people with Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders. Doctors have ignored and insurance rejected my repeated attempts to get medically sterilized. So I use barrier methods and spermicide, and hope... Fortunately, at 44, I'm in perimenopause and highly unlikely to get pregnant again. I've already told my boyfriend that if I do, he'll be playing chauffeur for a day at Planned Parenthood, and he has agreed, and is horrified by the way I've been treated by paternalistic US medical care.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
I think it's pretty telling that the punitive laws people come up with against abortion only apply to women and never to the men who got them pregnant, sometimes against the woman's will, and that these people shoot down legislation that would decrease abortions (like better access to health care and/or birth control), and that they have little to no regard for quality of life after birth.
Most of my family would consider me a murderer if I got an abortion, even though it's likely I'd die if I didn't. But they see my (and any woman's) role in life as primarily being a wife and mother, everything else is just to keep busy until you've achieved those two things. Abortion is an abdication of those things, and I think that'd almost be more upsetting to them than the fact that I ended the life of a fetus. I'd have become unwomanly in their eyes.
I don't appreciate people valuing their belief system over my own life.
Thank you so much for sharing this about your self. It's a brave thing in this day and age of anger and shooting off of mouths.
Sometimes I wonder how it is we got to this place on that larger social scale that other people's lives and health needs are up to the scrutiny of society at large. What's worse is so many make those snap judgment without really paying much attention to details and circumstances. It's a sad thing but good to open up dialog between those who make such snap assumptions and those who have to make those difficult and devastating decisions.
Again, thank you.
Personally, for myself I am against abortion but I strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose. I’m more upset and distressed at the anti-abortion bully’s than I am at women who choose to have them. The world would be a much better place if people took care of their own business and left others alone to do the same.
Great post and points, BTW.
Thank you for sharing that. Your thinking all makes perfect sense to me.
The whole debate would be easier if the pro-lifers actually showed respect for all forms of life - the young embryos of animals that are virtually identical to the human embryo, the gestating child (by wanting top-line pre-natal care for the mother), the infant (by protective social security measures), the matured child (by being anti-death penalty, pro-gun control etc.). The majority of them take the very opposite views and that leads me to conclude that their 'respect' for life is nothing more than a sham and that their real motive is to punish the woman.
The very presence and vocality of these hypocrites has poisoned the debate and makes it hard to take a dispassionate view of the rights or otherwise of the unborn.
[Edit] hanging parenthesis!
When I met my late ex wife she was 4 weeks pregnant. i offered to support the child too but she opted for a abortion, ( back street those days ). I supported her in that decision too. we were married 22 years and had 2 kids of our own. and never once regreted her decision.
Wow! As others have said, thank you for sharing this very personal part of yourself here. Clearly, you made great efforts and took great risk to exercise your right TO have children and I'm glad it worked out and you have happy (mostly normal), healthy teenagers now. I have an adult "child" and a teenager.
My perception of the abortion "issue" is that it is over a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body. She should be able to make that choice REGARDLESS of her reason. Maybe, like you, she has potentially life-threatening risk associated with the pregnancy, or maybe she simply feels she's not ready to be a mother. Maybe she just flat doesn't want a child. Maybe it's financial. Whatever the reason, it is HER body, HER choice. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume we are talking about a nonviable fetus. I don't want to have that debate. My point is simply that it's the woman's right to choose, period. Thanks again for sharing.
It always amazes me to see how insidious patriarchy is in our society, how religious dogma interjects itself into everyone's life, even the non-religious. Women should never allow anyone to dictate what they can or cannot do with their own body, any more than a man would but because of patriarchal religious morality that is exactly what happens.
An unwanted pregnancy can and should be terminated by a woman for whatever reason she deems acceptable, just as any other elective medical procedure should be her choice and hers alone. Having to factor in medical costs for contraception is uncivilized but because of religious pressures that is exactly the world we live in, when we give up freedom over our own bodies then we are giving up one of our most basic freedoms. We need as a society to stop stigmatizing abortion because all we are doing is giving into religious control over our lives. Choosing to have a child or not is a personal choice that has far reaching consequences and is no business of religion or the state.
I know a few women who have been faced with the biologoical fact that nature is not perfect and sometimes it can be downright cruel.
Thank you for telling your story and I am glad you have your children! I am a little surprised the doctor didn't advise a tubal ligation.
This couldn't have been easy to write, let alone share. I appreciate your willingness to do so, if it even influences one person...As for teenagers, they are great when you have no internet available, because they do know just about everything. Good luck to you and your family.
It makes me angry when people are denied sterilisation procedures because religious zealots have somehow influenced government policy.
Sterilisation, the snip, or whatever you want to call it seems the most effective method for preventing unwanted pregnancies for those who've decided against having children.
Our culture ignores those who've decided not to have children and overrides them.
Sorry about all that worry you must have had. I totally agree with you about abortion. No women take it lightly and most have take some form of contraception. How someone who is not in that situation can say anything at all about it is beyond me. It is nobody else business.
Thanks for sharing you story, As a man and having a son and daughter I can say that I'm pro-life.But I am also very pro choice. Both myself and the mother ( my first wife) feel the same. The choice is the womans. There no debate to it. It is what you said, If you don't walk in that persons shoes, then stay out of it. I'm also pro life because when a baby is born I want it to be taken care of, And use my tax dollars for it I don't care. It's a damn sure better use of taxes than fucking war. Thanks again you have all my respect.
You have explained the good, the bad and the ugly about abortion, and expressed your love of life, people, and family, too. It is a great post. I'm sorry for your troubles and happy things turned out OK.
PS Forgot to say, I agree that abortion should be available to every woman without difficulty.
Yes - thanks so much for sharing this. It does speak, not only for you, but gives a voice to the many other women you mention who also have had to make that deeply personal and difficult decision and don't feel comfortable or able to provide explanation of the circumstances.