No Mulligans With Abortion
While I totally support women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies, after just about 40 years, I'm still trying to deal with the emotional turmoil from having abortions when I was 18, 19 and 24.
My first abortion. And then I had another one year later. And yeah, it was the same guy who got me pregnant both times. At the time, I was on the road on a magazine sales crew, and there really wasn't much choice. He wasn't going to marry me, and I would've been saddled with the baby at 18 with no place to live. I probably would've had to go on welfare and raise the baby alone. So I made the choice that I thought was right for me.
Actually, I was steered into my decision by my managers of the magazine crew. They told me that my parents wouldn't accept me back pregnant, and you know I really didn't have much of a family at the time. I left home to sell magazines when my parents were freshly divorced, and I really just didn't have a place to be. The magazine crew was not only my job but it was my life back then. Where I lived, laughed and loved.
My managers told me that at 18, I had kind of fucked up my life. If I had a baby, unwed, where would I have gone? I just couldn't go back home when the main goal in my life throughout my teenage years was just getting through high school and getting out of the house, and getting away from all the hassles. After my mama left, the life I was leading at home just was not cool. And Rusty wasn't interested in getting off the crew and starting a life with me and a baby. He told me that there was just no way that he could support us. Nor did he want too. And there just wasn't any room on a magazine crew for a baby.
So I agreed, and the magazine crew jumped to Chicago where I had my abortion. I did it, and then went back to work and didn't think much of it. It was really the best choice for me at that time. Then a year later I was pregnant again-same guy, same results. They encouraged me to get an abortion. He told me he didn't want a baby. Again. In case you are wondering, I was on birth control. Both times.
Eventually, I did get off the magazine crew, after three years door-to-door sales. I joined the Army, because I didn't think I could plant my legs anywhere. I had the traveling bug so bad, but I figured if I joined the Army, the only way to get out of that is if I go AWOL. And if I went AWOL I would go to jail. So, I figured that was the best solution for me to get the traveling bug from the magazine crew out of my blood. It worked. But I failed at the Army too.
My job in the army was a 16 Delta. I was a hawk missile crewmen. I was one of the first three women ever put into that job. Out of the three of us, one got pregnant and discharged. I got caught sending a bit of hash to my brother. The other gal did just fine. I'm sure I wrote about this before somewhere…
Fast forward my life six months: I'm at home, honorably discharged, with a year of unemployment if I chose to take it. But I was on the search for a civilian career. My mom and stepdad took me in after I came home from the Army (thanks Mom and Don). Exactly one month later, I went to work at Dart Container as a parts packer, and there I met my future husband.
I hadn't planned on him being my husband, but somehow I ended up pregnant again after we had been seeing each other for about four months. It was a transitional time for him; he had just taken a job in Michigan that would help launch his career. The plan was for him to get settled, and me to move out there.
Then I started getting sick every day. I went to the doctor. Yep, pregnant. Scared. Already I was feeling the ache from the other two abortions weighing heavily on my heart and soul, I decided that no matter what, this baby was coming into the world.
I mustered up the courage to call him and break the news to him. He said, "What do you want to do?"
I said, "What do you want to do?"
He said, "Let's get married".
And we did.
This time, I didn't think of the cellular blob inside my body as a mistake that needed fixed. I was grappling with the emotions of the last two I had aborted, wondering often if they were boys or girls. I was second guessing myself all the time, knowing that if I had chosen differently, I would have been okay. The babies would have been okay. I hated myself for having those abortions. This time I felt different. This wasn't a bunch of cells, this was a baby. A living baby. With a heartbeat.
The other two weren't much older when I had them removed from my body. But this time we celebrated the life growing inside me. We planned. He found a job and moved back home. We found a nice little place to live with a large hallway that would double as a nursery for $175 a month. Our first child was born January 1980.
Married people don't have abortions, right? Especially after starting a family and making a life for a little one. So you get pregnant again five months later, and you're married -- so what? You have another baby, right? Wrong. In May 1980, I was pregnant again. He told me, "Make a choice, it's me or the baby. You can have this baby, but I'm leaving."
My parents advised, "You are struggling to feed one baby. Don't take away from him for two babies to have less". We didn't tell his parents. I went for my third abortion. I hated my husband.
I started noticing the pro-life campaign commercials when my son was about two. There was one commercial with a lady my age pushing an empty swing saying, "If you don't think abortion affects you later in life, you're wrong. My baby would be seven now". And I would cry. As soon as the music for the ad started, I'd run for the remote control and change the channel.
The third one is the abortion that I cannot justify in my mind. I had to be the consenting adult, and I had to be the one to climb on that table and have the procedure, but I didn't want it. But I didn't want to have two babies with no dad around either. So I did it.
There is a happy ending though, I did end up having a second baby who is the light of my life. I stayed married to my first husband for 20 years, but I never really forgave him for making me chose him over the pregnancy. He didn't know I didn't forgive him, because I am a shover of feelings. Bad things happen to me, and I toss them into a bag and throw it over my shoulder, where it sits quietly festering until the bag explodes, which it did finally.
The pain of this decision has never diminished. Even with the reassurances from others that I wouldn't have my daughter if I hadn't had that abortion when my son was five months old, I don't buy into it.
Three times I laid on that table for abortions. Three times I consciously made a decision to end a life that had begun inside me. Two of those times I was cornered, scared and hopeless. But the third time, I'll never forgive myself. Because I should have stood up for my right to carry that child to term and not let fear push me onto the table again.
Am I pro-life now? Yes and no. I no longer view a pregnancy at any state as a group of cells. I believe that is a baby. I believe women should have guidance, and perhaps even psychological help, in making the abortion decision.
I think you need to realize the lifelong ramifications of having an abortion. I think you need to know that no matter how scared you are right this minute, your regrets might be greater than your fears.
And you know what else? I'm glad there is better birth control now. Because no child should be conceived by accident.