The following article was submitted anonymously:
This blog could use a shot of estrogen. So here I go, talking about Lady Issues.
There are some things that are hard to admit. Like sitting at home on a Friday night watching “The Ghost Whisperer” while drinking a vodka tonic made with clementine vodka and eating Carr’s cheese crackers. Like seeing the trailer for “Nights in Rodarthe” and planning on seeing it during its opening weekend. Like knowing way too much about Diane Lane and Josh Brolin’s varied marital disputes. Like having an abortion.
Ever had one? I’ve had two.
Flippant? Sure. But talk about abortion is generally confined to two manners of discourse: it is either above your pay grade or it is your exact area of moral expertise. When in reality, everyone should really just shut the fuck up. Especially John McCain and Sarah Palin.
No one ever actually talks about abortions because the people who talk about abortions don’t have them, and the people who have them don’t talk about abortions. Part of this is fear of social stigma and lunatics fire bombing their (my) homes. But I think it is largely because the choice to have an abortion is not a vote in an election, it is not a national policy referendum, it is an intensely personal decision that confirms and contradicts every single political cliche used to argue for or against it.
If I tell you my story, it is not meant to be representative. It is simply meant to be illustrative. And it is because I admire Sarah Palin’s decision to have a baby with Downs Syndrome, but I want her to stop shoving Trig’s face in mine. It isn’t my business, nor is the fact that I aborted two babies any of hers. My right to privacy is assaulted every day she denies that privacy to her own choices and family.
My first pregnancy resulted from a potent combination of two nineteen year olds, jungle juice, and raging college hormones. He was a certified Young Republican, I was not, and we were both very, very drunk. It was a night to forget, and then remember again and again. When I bought the pregnancy test from the local pharmacy, the woman at the checkout counter said, “Ohhh honey. You better tell me which way this turns out.” So I guess I’m doing that now. SPOILER ALERT: that shit was positive.
The morning of the surgery, I threw up twice and I cried on the subway. The clinic was terrifying, though the people who worked there were lovely in their absolute absence of judgement and thorough offering of support. The woman who performed the ultrasound was required by law to ask if I wanted to see the photographic evidence of my pregnancy [watch your euphemisms, boys and girls]. I declined, but when she left the room it required the whole of my self-control not to dig through the garbage and find it. I had an idea that I needed to see it, to know what I was doing, what I was taking. But the total truth is that I was too scared to look.
I went into a room. I took off my pants and underwear. I remember lying on the table and feeling the drugs slowly begin to take effect. The doctor had brown hair and seemed kind. And then nothing. I woke up in a recliner in a large and open room, covered to my waist in a hospital sheet. I woke up slow and hard, bleary-eyed and sad. I was in a room filled with women who had just undergone the same surgery. If you want to find a cross-section of the American female populace, look no further than the post-op room of an abortion clinic. They were all there – young, old, white, black, brown, rich, not-rich, poor.
After a period of time I cannot measure with any degree of certainty, I walked out into the waiting area. My best friends were there. The three of them had come with me, had endured those interminable hours and greeted me with a sympathy and grace and love for which I am still grateful. They put me into a cab, which I may have thrown up outside of. They took me home, put me into bed, and fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And they waited with me during those months after until I was, nominally, healed.
My second pregnancy was borne [puns, kids, watch me be flip!] out of a bevy of cliches on a Sunday at age twenty-one. It was a lazy morning and the light spilled in from the windows, a light I would remember as akin to a certain artist’s paintings, except I know jack about art. It was a mistake made with someone I loved and it was different in all respects. I would say that it was a mistake that happened to us, rather than one that we made, but that seems dishonest.
This time I took pills in my own apartment [which sounds more innocuous than it actually was], and the boy brought me ice cream and spoke quietly in between my horrifying trips to the bathroom where I expelled the remnants of our pregnancy. The doctors tell you not to be alarmed by blood clots – they are the currency of your dubious moral transaction. But once your body expels a blood clot the size of small closed fist, doubt about what you are doing and how it will affect you begin to creep in.
The rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement would tell you that that question, that doubt, are indicative of a larger pattern of regret and self-recrimination. They are and they aren’t. It is a simple and hard fact to face: I regret my decisions but I would make them again. They were easy decisions [choices] to make. I am a young woman with a brand-name education, raised in an upper-middle class home with anti-abortion parents, from a small town in Middle America. To have made different decisions was to choose a different life, one that I did not want. The penultimate choices I made were not ones that I ever took lightly; indeed [kudos repubs!], those choices linger and haunt and hurt. But they were mine to make, Sarah Palin. They were mine and they are not yours.
To describe my supposed qualifications for or “against” motherhood seem disingenuous even to me; but even if the reasons sucked, they were there. I had imagined a life that never would have included a baby [or babies] at graduation; moreover, no one else would have imagined it either, nor would they ultimately have wanted that reality. It is not simply the choice between one life or another; it is the choice between one kind of life and another. I chose the one that was easier, certainly, but it was the one I knew because it was the one I had always wanted.
What makes me crazy about the debate over abortion is that everyone is speaking for someone else, offering advice and warnings and moral dictums. But no one ever speaks for themselves, no one ever speaks about abortion itself. I am no different. I write this anonymously, and I hope to only ever speak of it with more than one clementine vodka tonic in my system. Because the truth of abortion is that it is terrifying. It hurts and it is unspeakably hard, and sometimes, it is the right choice.
The fact that is unspeakable is perhaps the point of this. But the larger issue is this: it is impossible to be everything that people want from us, particularly as women. What is demanded from women who have had abortions, young and old, is a justification for those decisions. I won’t willingly offer one, even if it seems that I already have, because it was my choice – it wasn’t yours. I am 25. I have had two abortions. I refuse to apologize for either. And fuck you John McCain and Sarah Palin and Anthony Kennedy for trying to make me give you one, or to pretend that you have one that is better and will protect me from myself. You may speak of an “extreme pro-abortion movement,” but you have no idea what it’s like to look into that mirror or to ignore that ultra-sound. It is an anonymous face, because it is never given one, even here. But I live with that and you do not. Fuck you. Vote Obama.