Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
Two years ago, Jenn found out she was pregnant in the bathroom of a grocery store. Today she feels fortunate she had the opportunity to make the decision. This is her story.
It can be incredibly easy for people to discuss women’s bodies without considering women’s lives, to debate hypothetical scenarios without putting a name or face to on their debate. I am not an abstraction. This is my story.
A week after I got accepted into grad school, I found out I was pregnant alone in a grocery store bathroom. The first step was remembering who I was, and that I had to get out of the bathroom. That took about an hour. The next step was walking out of the store without showing the world the total haze I was in.
The only thing that could make the situation feel real was by telling people, but I had no idea what I was in for. The responses I got for the next 48 hours included:
“Take a deep breath. You can do this. It’s scary right now, but you’re going to be a great mom.” “You have a life inside of you now.” “You’re going to have the baby right? Because you know that I’m against abortion.” “Did you know that I’m against abortion?” “What are you going to do?” “Who’s the father?” What does he want to do?”
The man that impregnated me called me in five minute intervals to make sure that I was going through with the abortion. He left money in my mailbox when I wasn’t home. I never saw him again. He got to walk away a free man.
Not everyone I talked to was against abortion in general, but they sure did not like the idea of me getting one. Abortion was a dark cloud as far as everyone was concerned. Abortion was Voldemort. Just saying the word made me feel like I was summoning the Dark Lord himself. I don’t think that was the intention of my peers, but when society does not openly talk about abortion as a viable option, how were they supposed to think an abortion was a viable option for me?
I am the type of person that needs reassurance. It’s like medicine. But for this decision in particular, I had a horrible gut feeling about what everyone was saying to me, and I knew I had to stop listening to everyone. I needed to clear my head and figure out what I wanted.
I took the Simon and Garfunkel CD out of my car that I had been sulking to all week and put in Genesis. I drove to a Planned Parenthood to get more information from a gynecologist, and it was the most amazing experience. I’m not kidding. This doctor was calm, rational, and non-judgmental. She was the first person to assure me how legitimate of an option that abortion was. I have anxiety and previous trauma, so I really needed to know what the best option was for me mentally and physically. After discussing the options, I realized an abortion would be difficult, but would be the least amount of impact on my body and my life.
At the clinic I decided to terminate the pregnancy with medication. The doctors give you one pill at the clinic which stops the growth, and another that you take at home which releases it from your system. It’s very similar to having a heavy period, but it’s the period from hell.
I listened to all of the instructions the doctor was giving me, and suddenly I totally panicked. I had never heard of anyone going through this before. I felt so alone, I felt so dirty, I felt so scared. I kept thinking, what will happen to me after I do this? I left the clinic in a panic without taking the medication. I was so upset with myself for leaving, I definitely didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy, but I was so scared of going through this alone. I decided to reach out to a family friend who has always been incredibly wise in my life, and little did I know, she had an abortion at my age. I’ll never forget what she told me, “I definitely wasn’t ready for a child, and I knew what I had to do. It was hard, but I don’t regret it. By the end of the year I was just fine, and you’re going to be just fine too.”
That was it. That was what I needed to hear.
The next day I went to the clinic by myself, and I took the pill. What came after involved a lot of pain, and a lot of grief. But one thing that did not come after, was regret. If I had to go back in time, I would make the same decision all over again. When you do look back, you need to remember that it was the right decision for you at the time you made it. In the present, the most important time in your life.
I want everyone to know, that it is okay to let yourself grieve and feel emotions for this process. There is honestly no easy option when you find out you’re pregnant. It’s going to be a big bag of feelings no matter which path you choose, you just have to find the path that you’re willing to feel for. This spring will be two years since I had it done, and I can tell you that I’ve made some incredible friends that have had abortions, accepted mine, and were even happy to hear about mine.
I’ve had several women tell me that they’re so relieved to hear me openly talk about my abortion, because it gives them hope that they could get over something like that too. I think the majority of women think in their heads “I fully support women having the choice to get an abortion, I’m just not sure that I could make that choice for myself.” Of course we think this! Even though we praise women having the right to choose, how often do we talk about the actual choice of having an abortion? Do we all know the different choices of abortions? Do we know the symptoms and how they compare to giving birth?
There’s something that I want to emphasize the most here: overall, being pregnant was a traumatizing process. It’s obviously something emotional enough that I felt I needed to write about it for you all to read. BUT, it’s not for the reasons you might think. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I did not want to go through with the pregnancy. The trauma comes from the isolation and wrong-doing that came with getting an abortion.
I realize that two years ago I had an incredibly difficult decision to make, but honestly, I just feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to make a decision. To women out there that have had to make any choice or faced any outcome from a pregnancy, you’re not alone, and you’re strong as hell, because you’re facing a battle that’s much bigger than yourself. Let’s keep reminding women and girls everywhere that they deserve to have options too.
Jenn Montooth is a writer and history graduate student living in Washington, DC. Her heart stays full by discussing gender politics with her friends over delicious food and strumming her handsome banjo, Nimroy. Feel free to discuss anything from Black Power history to the ending to Harold and Maude with her on Twitter at @mennjontooth.