01 October 2015

I Had An Abortion and it Wasn't Through Planned Parenthood

When I was 18 years old I got pregnant.

It was my last year of high school and I was madly in love. I'd been in love with this boy for 3 years and was fully intending to be with him forever, just like any 18 year old who's in love. And also like many 18 year olds in love, we were sexually active. Very. Extremely.

But I wasn't completely irresponsible. At the time there was a Planned Parenthood  in the mall near my house and I'd been going there since I was 15 for screenings, advice, and free condoms. I actually spent a lot of time in there just talking to the counselors about things I didn't feel comfortable talking to my mother about. All the women were supportive and helpful and they let me just walk in and talk to someone. I had even taken several of my friends there, other girls who were sexually active and wanted to be safe but we're scared to talk to their parents. Twice I was allowed to be in the room with my friends, holding their hand while they got their first ever gynecological exam. 

But I was still a teenager and somewhere along the line my boyfriend and I weren't as careful as we should've been (and yes we could've just abstained from having sex, but we didn't so I'm not going to engage in that debate) and in the last semester of my last year in high school I found out I was pregnant.

The very first place I went to was Planned Parenthood, because, like much of America, I thought PP was the place to go to easily get an abortion. I took a pregnancy test, we calculated how far along I was, then we talked. And talked. And talked. They told me every conceivable option available to me and how they could help me with each, including helping me talk to my parents. I left there with stacks of papers, ideas, and a possible plan.

I did not leave Planned Parenthood with the completely legal abortion I was determined to have.

I went home and started making phone calls. I DID NOT want to have a baby. Yes, I was terrified of telling my parents, but I also had plans for my life that did not involve a child just then. Later, yes. I was in love and truly wanted to have children with my boyfriend later, when we were married. Not then. Not as teenagers. So I made phone calls and got an approximate cost for an abortion. 

That's where things went wrong. I had some money but not enough, so I started asking around to borrow money, and pleading with anyone I asked to keep my secret. In such a scenario, it only takes asking one wrong person for things to get out of control. I asked the wrong person, who then told an even more wrong person, who took it upon themselves, for their own religious reasons (this person is pro-life), to tell my parents. 

It was ugly. I won't get into the domino effect of ugliness that ensued, but it was not a good time in an already volatile relationship with my parents. However then end result was they agreed that it was not the time for me to have a child and they took me to a hospital where I had an abortion. Coincidentally it was the same hospital I was born in.

Actually, that's not the end result. Later that fall I went off to college and I was forced to leave the boy I was in love with. But we remained friends and kept in contact over the years. I harbored intense guilt over the abortion for many years and felt like I'd disappointed him but eventually we did talk about it and he assured me he had no ill will towards me.

Our first son!
Baby boy #2!
Fast forward 15 years, many other relationships, thousands of miles of travel, countless emails and MySpace messages (yes, I said MySpace!) and he and I realized we're still in love and decide to reunite. High school sweethearts back together. Less than a year later we become parents to a beautiful baby boy who we adore. Seven years later (exactly 5 months ago, to be precise) we have our second beautiful son.

This is the family we were meant to be. Our lives would've been drastically different if we'd been teen parents. Both of us have learned independence and self-sufficiency. We've traveled the world. We've come to know ourselves and we can teach these things to our sons. Because of the lives we've lived we are conscious, peaceful parents who homeschool and are super protective of our kids. We are better people so we can be better parents, I don't think that would've been the case with our teenage selves. We would've managed, like the millions of other teenage parents, and we probably would've worked things out, but we made our choice and looking at my wonderful, happy family today I'm content with our choice.

And I continued to go to Planned Parenthood for my health care over those 15 years, I even went there to find out I was pregnant with my 7 year old. They remained my source for advice, support, and contraception. Which is why I denounce all the false statistics, misogyny, and rhetoric and I strongly Stand with Planned Parenthood.

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