Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
This July, I lost my health insurance. I am a fairly healthy person, so my biggest concern was being unable pay for my birth control. I went straight to my local Planned Parenthood (where I volunteer weekly as a clinic escort) and enrolled in their Family Planning Benefit program so that I could finally get the kind of birth control I had always wanted but couldn’t afford—a copper IUD called ParaGuard. Non-hormonal, 99.4% effective, and good for twelve years, the copper IUD was the answer to all my birth control problems, but at around $700 it had previously been beyond my reach. The secret blessing of losing my health insurance was the ability to get a copper IUD at no cost to me. The clinician I met with scheduled an appointment for me during my period (when it is easier to insert IUDs) and I waited, anxious to finally have worry-free birth control.
The day of my appointment arrived but my period still hadn’t. After two days, I knew what had happened. Used to having back-up birth control, my partner and I had not been as careful as we should have with condoms. I spent a week grasping at the reality of the situation by drinking too much and mentally abusing myself before I took a test that confirmed what I already knew. I went to Planned Parenthood the next day, where I went through counseling, another pregnancy test, two blood tests, and a transvaginal ultrasound. I saw the tiny life growing in my uterus on the grainy ultrasound image: at around 5 weeks and 4 days, it was 0.3 centimeters long, and looked like a fuzzy smudge. I cried before the ultrasound—not because I felt anything for the fetus, but because I felt I had let myself down. My parents were the same age I am now when I was born, and I always swore I would not repeat their mistakes. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t tell anyone but my partner—not my sister, not my friends, not my grandmother—because I was afraid of what they would think of me.
I didn’t like the situation that I had found myself in, but I never had any doubts that I would have an abortion. I chose to terminate the pregnancy with the abortion pill rather than a surgical abortion for a few reasons. The abortion pill is a two-step process. First you take Mifepristone at the clinic, which blocks progesterone in the body, causes the placenta to detach from the endometrium, and encourages the cervix to soften. At home twenty-four hours later, you take a pill called Misoprostol, which encourages uterine contractions, emptying the contents of the uterus. I liked the idea of completing the process at home, where I would be comfortable. I wanted to experience the whole abortion, not be drugged through the procedure. I wanted to be able to see the products of conception so that I would be able to better conceptualize what my abortion really meant to me. And I didn’t want to have to walk through the doors of Planned Parenthood on surgical abortion day, when a line of religious anti-abortion protesters regularly harass women entering the clinic…