Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
The following story appeared on October 20, 2016 in #ShoutYourAbortion, “a decentralized network of individuals talking about abortion on our own terms.”
Joyelle Johnson got pregnant on the handicap bathroom, on an Amtrak train. The tone of her story tells us she doesn’t care about other people’s judgment, and doesn’t regret her decision to have an abortion when she was a junior in college.
I got pregnant the classy way. On the floor of a handicap bathroom, on an Amtrak train. And I propose this, if you’re having sex on the floor of a handicap bathroom on an Amtrak train …maybe you aren’t ready to be a mother. Not judging anyone but myself and my college boyfriend, if you like to get it in on floors, in bathrooms or on trains more power to you. As soon as we were finished I had a strange feeling. Something was different. Instantly I knew I was pregnant and my suspicions were confirmed weeks later.
At the time I was a junior in college and had been seeing my boyfriend for a year, which was going great. My family, on the other hand, was a hot mess. Folks were dying and getting sick in what seemed like droves. As a matter of fact, I was on the Pregnancy Express headed to a funeral for one of my closest cousins who died suddenly the day before his 19th birthday (with an inconclusive autopsy).
And, to add more fuel to the fuckery fire: 9/11 (which is the day before my birthday) happened the month before and I’m from a town in NJ right across the Hudson River. Needless to say that whole year sucked a huge D for me (and the country), analogous to how 2016 has been sucking for all of mankind (Prince and Bowie RIP). We didn’t use a condom and I blame my recklessness on a traumatic state of mind: I had zero fucks to give about anything. The sky was falling. I was Chicken Little.
Obviously, when I found out I was pregnant I became substantially more overwhelmed. I was a junior at Boston College, a jesuit institution which doesn’t give access to birth control on campus but did allow Cardinal Law to give commencement speeches (I love my alma mater but man…). Also, I had to tell my mother. My boyfriend was too scared to tell his, but my mother was a labor and delivery nurse who’d met my “father” (I put that in quotes because he wasn’t much of a father to me) at UMDNJ hospital in Newark, NJ. He was an OBGYN (yes my deadbeat dad was a successful doctor) who’s specialty was…wait for it…abortions. So, I knew when it came time to tell her she wouldn’t be mad. Especially considering she’s the most peaceful person I’ve ever met in my life, like if Mother Teresa was born in the projects of Brooklyn. Still, I was teary eyed when I made the phone call. “Mommy I’m pregnant.” Her response, “Well…what do you want to do?”
Choice. It was as simple as that. She had my back. One of the choices she offered was for me to have the baby in the summer and finish school while she raised her grandchild for the first year. Her level of altruism is unparalleled. But I knew I couldn’t do that to my mother, my child or myself. The guilt alone would’ve overcome me. So I chose to have an abortion. Guilt free.
A little background on my parents. Not one but both of them have expressed to me that I was an accident. My “father” callously blurted once “I told your mother to have an abortion, what do you want from me?” And my mother fleetingly mentioned she was on her way to abort me but decided not to go through with it on a whim (albeit altruistic she’s not always the most tactful). So here I am, and I went through with it. Mommy had an old family friend do the procedure, and thankfully he put me to sleep. Translation: I had a fancy rich lady abortion. I was alone that day though. My mom happened to be out of town and my “man” didn’t come because like I said he was “scared” to tell his mommy. In his defense she had the temperament of a Disney villain so I kind of understood but man up ya pussy you’re not the one on the table! Ugh, men have that convenience of not having to deal with this issue, which is why you shouldn’t have a damn say in what I do with my body!
My cousin dropped me off. When I was about to go under I was sobbing uncontrollably and the Dr. stopped and asked “Do you want to do this?” I answered in between heaves yes. And then I woke up (alone)…to zero regrets. I’m a better person for removing that microscopic clump of cells before it became a human life. I even think about the child sporadically, he or she would be 14 now. That thought doesn’t make me sad though. I definitely want to have a baby or two, when the time is right. And I’m happy to live in a country where I had that choice