I Don't Regret My Abortion, and I'd Like to Talk About It Without Having to Reassure You
Over the years, my grandmother has gifted me a lot of her vintage jewelry. Whenever someone compliments a piece, which is often, I'll say, "Thanks! It was my grandma's," then watch as a concerned look washes over their face. I can see their brains crafting an image of a weak old woman whispering, "Please, Carolyn. Wear this necklace when I'm gone." I'll laugh inside to myself, knowing that there is no reason for their pity, as the jewelry was given to me by a healthy grandmother who simply enjoys giving me things.
I'm reminded of those unnecessarily concerned reactions every time I tell someone I've had an abortion. In both instances, people stand there with sad, wide My Little Pony eyes and wait to be told that it's okay, that I'm okay.
That’s why I don’t often bring up the topic of my abortion. Because it then becomes my job to reassure.
It becomes my job to explain my lack of regret. It becomes my job to make sure they know just how incredibly okay I am with my decision to not have a baby.
I don't want to deny that, for some women, having an abortion may be a heartbreaking, traumatic, or even confusing experience. But I also don't want to deny that, for me, it definitely was not a difficult decision. And I should feel comfortable talking about it in that way.
The human body is weird. It changes and responds faster than our intellects can keep up. I'm constantly amazed (and grossed out) by what I've seen my body do. Take the time I got shingles: My stomach morphed into a severe rash that disgusted me, yet I couldn't stop obsessively looking at it. "Is this really my body?!" I'd think to myself. Because of my body awareness, I knew that something was happening to me before I knew I was pregnant.
First, I noticed that more of my hair was falling out in the shower. Then I noticed during my commute that the 12 stairs from my train to the street drained me, rather than energized me. The unsweetened coffee I drank every day had been replaced by my serious cravings for sugary beverages—ones that real coffee drinkers like myself usually consider blasphemous. A Java Chip Frappuccino was suddenly the only thing that could settle my stomach. Well, that and the Cocoa Krispies. Oh my god, the Cocoa Krispies. I think I started eating them every day.
Once I'd glamorously confirmed that I was pregnant with a test in the bathroom of a Subway (eat fresh, not MTA), I immediately knew I was getting an abortion. But admittedly, there was a part of me that thought, "I kinda want to see this thing through!" No, I was not doubting my decision to terminate my pregnancy—but I was extremely curious to learn what else would happen to my body. Being pregnant was the ultimate way to learn more about my body's abilities—yet I could tell practically no one because I was supposed to feel scared and ashamed of the choice I'd be making.
When I find myself around a newly pregnant woman now, I'll nod along as she shares her experiences and the daily changes to her body. I'll remember what I also noticed during the two and half months I was pregnant, and catch myself wanting to say things like "Oh my god, yes! The same thing happened to me!" or "That's what my tits felt like, too!"
But because I didn’t see my pregnancy through, I’m not comfortable saying those things. More so, society has taught me I’m not allowed to say those things.
Yes, I aborted my pregnancy, but that doesn't mean I don't find my body's capabilities as amazing as the woman who went through with hers. If we haven't birthed other children, then we may not have C-section scars or know what contractions feel like, but we do share some experiences.
Don't I deserve the option to talk about something that happened to my body just as candidly, honestly, and humorously as someone who discusses their colonoscopy, their MRI, their embarrassing mole? Why is it so much easier to get people on your side about a decision to remove that thing on your back than a decision to remove some cells from your uterus?
The conversation I'm trying to have about my body and my abortion is one of many abortion stories that deserve to be heard, especially as we enter a Twilight Zone-reality of incessant abortion bans and the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade (which, unfortunately, happened in Texas). Those of us who've been in the clinic should have more conversations about our experiences so that others can stop maliciously speaking for us. Whether it's shouting your abortion or casually mentioning it to someone using your inside voice, the more we unashamedly discuss our health and our choices, the less stigmatized it all becomes. The less I have to convince people that I am happy with my choices and that the choice should exist for everyone.
A world where we can talk about our abortions and pregnancies—because women who've had abortions were pregnant once, too—as freely as we talk about the weather may feel even more like a never-before-seen episode of the Twilight Zone. And that's the world I want. My experience being pregnant certainly strengthened my relationship with Cocoa Krispies, but more so, it strengthened my relationship with my body. My body showed me what it could do, and I responded by doing what I needed to do for myself. I think that's really cool. I think that's worth a conversation.