Many years ago I had an abortion.
I sat in a waiting room with other young women waiting to terminate our unwanted pregnancies. Let me just, for a second, tell you what that feels like, sitting alone, waiting to be called, to be taken into a room where you’re surrounded by kind strangers, and filled with thoughts of great sadness, great guilt, and great shame.
It all begins with wanting someone to love you. That boy over there. The cute one. You want him to notice you, love you, pay attention. Good god, you’ll do anything for him. You want him to like you, to love you back. You drink, you smoke, you flirt, you tell him yes, yes, please, yes… and then maybe you end up in the back of a car, or in the basement, or in his room, or in the locker room in the gym.
You give yourself away. You think, “If I give him this, he’ll want me, love me, want more of me.” You don’t think protection, or safety or disease, or pregnancy. You only think, “I want you to love me.”
And then you don’t hear from him, he doesn’t call, ever. You sit and wait and he doesn’t call, and then you miss your period, and feel sick and think it’s the flu, or a cold, or a stomach virus, and then you feel really sick and start to gain a bit of weight, and he doesn’t notice you, he ignores you, and then you go to your doctor, or some doctor with a friend because you can’t tell your folks, and the doctor does a blood test and some urine test and tells you that your pregnant and you’re 15. Maybe 16.
And the guy that you liked, wanted – loved – doesn’t even care if you’re alive, and god knows he’s not going to want you more because you didn’t care enough about yourself to protect yourself, use a condom, tell him “NO,” and you find yourself sitting in a clinic with people who are kind and loving and brush your hair our of your eyes and say, “You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine,” and you want to believe them, and then someone holds your hand and says count backwards from 100 and the next thing you know that same someone is standing over you with a glass of orange juice, lifting your head ever so slightly, and saying, “Take a sip, a little sip.”
And then you get dressed and you feel shame and guilt and empty and lonely and you wish that you liked yourself enough to not have let that boy – the one who doesn’t even know you exist, who doesn’t even say hello to you in the hallways, who doesn’t even look at you out of the corner of his eyes – into your heart and soul and body. And you feel dirty, and empty and ugly.
And yes, those were my choices: both the bad boy that I wanted, who I loved madly who didn’t love me back, and the abortion. And that choice that I made, that one, that one saved my life, and that boy’s life.
My choice was a tragic one. It was tragic from the get go. Because I didn’t know at the age of 15 that I could love me, love myself and that would be okay. More than okay, more than enough. I didn’t know that.
Being pro-choice is being able to say no. Full on liberating. It’s about self-love and self-respect.
And then there is another choice, a different choice dotting the entire state of Pennsylvania with bulletins declaring, demanding PRO-LIFE as the only option.
playing the sympathy card. But that choice has far reaching, and horrific consequences. Horrific. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t kid yourself for one-second.
Getting pregnant at 15 or 16 and then at first hiding the pregnancy, then the first signs of a few extra pounds, a belly-roll, making the decision to have the baby, to raise the baby, to give up school, to lose friends, and then you find yourself a few months down the road, a year down the road, running on overwhelm fumes, over-burdened, under-nourished, freaking the fuck out because, no, this was not the life you wanted, hoped for, envisioned. Not one bit. You didn’t wanna be saddled with a kid, and by now, the high school guy more than likely high-tailed it outta there because he wants to play football or soccer, and your life is closing in, and your folks can’t take care of the baby because, well, they have jobs, and can barely make ends meet, and you find yourself on your knees, deep on your knees, swaying back & forth, asking for help, wisdom, some faith. Making one more choice, one more choice, gimme a sign, I need a sign…and then it comes with no sleep and some booze and a tongue taste of powder, – one more sickening ghastly choice when you decide – realize – that no, you don’t wanna have a kid – you don’t wanna be a mother, and then in a panic, in a sheer emotional panic, you do it, you kill your baby, choke it, beat it, suffocate it, maybe even toss it away in a trash can or in waste container, or leave it the back seat of your car, where she or he will freeze to death, and you hope that no one, not one soul will find the remains, because you’re only 15 or 16 or 17 and… your life is ruined. Completely. And how did it get here? How? All those choices piled up one after another – like a head on collision on the freeway, a 30 car pile up, and it’s absolutely unbearable.
That choice. That pro-life choice. Ruined many, many lives. There is no life in that choice. None.
And it all started with wanting one guy to love you. To see you. To notice you. To be with you. Let’s see how many visits he’ll made to jail? It doesn’t look to promising.
So, how about we start teaching our girls and our boys right now, today, about sex education, prevention, birth control, disease control, taking responsibility, how about we teach them to CHOOSE TO LOVE THEIR OWN LIVES because their lives are invaluable, their hopes and dreams are necessary, their contribution to this world is vital. How about we teach them to believe in the greatness of their own lives, to become girls and boys – women and men – of unlimited self-esteem. How about we teach them self-respect and self-love?
Amy Ferris is an author, editor, screenwriter and playwright. she dabbles in art and painting. Her memoir, marrying george clooney, was adapted into an off-broadway play in 2012. She is currenting editing an anthology on depression, suicide, and sadness, 30 Shades of Blue, for seal press (fall, 2015). She lives in Northeast PA with her husband. Her deepest passion is that all women awaken to their greatness.