Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days. The following excerpt is from a story by Dana Davenport, which originally appeared on SELF.com. In a military family, Dana was living abroad at the time of her abortion. She speaks of navigating the anti-black misogyny and judgment she experienced around her decision, and how she was able to shed this sense of shame years later.
“My name is Dana Davenport. I had an abortion. I had sex, became pregnant, and decided to have an abortion. My name is Dana Davenport and I had an abortion at age 14.
I haven’t said these words so publicly until now. For the past eight years I was convinced that I needed to bury my abortion experience with shame and secrecy. I am now taking ownership of my abortion and looking it in the face. I had an abortion and my only regret is having felt ashamed for it.
My two biggest fears as a teenager were pregnancy and STDs (both of which I have now experienced and lived to tell the story). Those were markings of irresponsible sex, an idea that was planted in my head early on. Whenever something bad happened I would sarcastically mutter, “at least I’m not pregnant” as if that was the worst thing that could possibly happen to me at that age. From the way the media spun the teen pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears, to the manufactured drama of the popular reality TV show 16 and Pregnant, I recognized that sex-related “scandals” were the juiciest to gossip about and most shameful for the victim. We learn to blame the woman. We’re told that it’s her screw-up and our responsibility to shame her. We’re told that she’s going to be a terrible mother. We’re told she’s a murderer if she chooses an abortion. Most despicably, we’re told that her reproductive choices are our business.
I attended a small high school on an army base. A black-looking, English-only-speaking, African-American-and-Korean girl living in Seoul, South Korea. I was among the first out of my friend group to lose their virginity. Sex was a big deal at that age but I felt OK about it, I felt like I was becoming a woman and that somehow there was greater knowledge and maturity that came with sexual experience. This was a part of my narrative in becoming a woman. It was also part of an unjust narrative in Korean society’s view of black girls and women as second-class citizens—promiscuous, dirty, and dumb. These anti-black notions and stereotypes are overwhelmingly prevalent in Korean society. As a black woman, or girl at the time, I was convinced I should feel ashamed of my blackness and then ashamed for making a decision that concerned my own body, on top of that…”
Photo courtesy: Henri Meilhac