A reader writes:
I’ve always been pro-choice but thought that I could personally never have an abortion. I always thought it was unfair to make a child pay for my mistake. But then I got pregnant at 19, by the first guy I ever had sex with.
My situation was complicated by the fact that I was due to leave in about a week for a semester abroad in Italy. I couldn’t have gotten an abortion at the time if I wanted one, as I was only about 5 weeks along. My mother and I decided that I would go to Italy so that I could get a full semester’s worth of classes, and then drop out of college until I had the baby and gave it up for adoption. I had absolutely no intention of keeping this baby, but felt that it was my responsibility to give it a chance before I got back to my life. It seemed like such a reasonable plan.
But I had no idea how hard it would be to live every day with a fetus growing inside of me that I didn’t want anything to do with. It felt like an invader. I felt so alone in Italy, although my friends there were wonderfully supportive. I fell into a deep depression, sleeping 12 hours a day, not eating, getting no prenatal care. When I started having fantasies about falling down the stairs to lose the baby, I knew I couldn’t do it. I flew home and prepared to get the procedure. At that point, I was about 18 weeks along.
I couldn’t get it done in my hometown, even though it’s a mid-sized city with a large medical community. My mother had to take me to a big city about 2 hours away. It was a two day procedure; they stopped the heartbeat the first day, and then I went back for the D&C under general anesthesia. All of this under secrecy without telling my father, who had a serious heart condition.
I know now I should have just faced the facts about myself and had the abortion earlier. I make no excuses for myself. But this is the thing about abortion: you never know what you’ll do until you get into the situation. This is why women need to make the decision, not the state. It would have been cruel to force an immature young woman to carry a baby to term because she tried to do the right think before realizing her emotional limits. My abortion may not have been the most moral choice, but I know it saved my life.
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