'Abortion Was a No-Brainer'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

That’s how a reader felt about hers:

I grew up in a very religious and strict household, but I’ve been pro-choice for as long as I could remember. I got pregnant for the first time at 19 by a man 12 years my senior. I wanted an abortion, but my parents found out and made me have (and keep) my son to teach me a lesson about being sexually active outside of marriage. They also said that African Americans didn’t get abortions or gave their children away.

Fast forward 10 years and my son and I are living far from my family. I had a college degree, a good paying but stressful job, and I was newly divorced. I had moved to a new city several states away and had taken up with my high school sweetheart (who, coincidentally was my first sexual experience) and we were having sex all of the time. Just like in high school.

So I wasn’t surprised when I found out I was pregnant. I used vaginal contraceptive film, but I might’ve put it in too soon or too late, I don’t know.

What I wasn’t expecting was for him to demand that I get an abortion. He sheepishly confessed that he was married and that his wife was pregnant too. While I knew that he had two other children with two different women, his being married was a shock to me.

I had no interest in being a single mom to two kids, so abortion was a no-brainer.

I called a local clinic and made an appointment. He gave me $1000 (an abortion in 2006 cost $350) and I went. There were protestors outside, and one white woman grabbed me and told me that I was going to hell. I told her to get the fuck out of my face and went inside. Of course my boyfriend didn’t want to be seen anywhere near the clinic, so I had a friend from work take me.

The waiting period had not been in effect yet, but they did make you look at a sonogram of your fetus. I felt nothing. I didn’t want to have another child that I didn’t want. I loved my son, but I didn’t want him when I was pregnant. We have a great relationship now, thanks to tons of therapy—something else that African Americans supposedly don’t do.

The entire appointment took an hour. The procedure itself took about 20 minutes. It didn’t hurt as much as I expected it to, maybe because I was high on the Xanax they gave me beforehand. My friend drove me home and put me to bed. He slept on my couch and checked on me. My son stayed with a friend from school.

I never spoke to or saw my high school sweetheart ever again. I hate him. I’m glad I got an abortion. I didn’t need him or that drama in my life. It was a decision that I made on my own, and to this day I don’t feel guilty about it.