Four years ago, I was a very typical 26-year old. I was newly married and just starting my career. I had been using hormonal birth control consistently for 10 years at that point, so my positive pregnancy test was shocking and disappointing. I was shocked for the obvious reasons, and I was disappointed because I was convinced that my boobs were just getting bigger on their own.
Boobs aside, I knew I needed to have an abortion. I could have justified my decision with a hundred reasons. All that really mattered was the fact that I didn’t want to be pregnant.
Unlike the majority of people in Ohio and around the country, I experienced an abortion with virtually no barriers. Because of my work in the reproductive rights field, I knew exactly what to do. I didn’t have to sift through pages and pages of deceptive Crisis Pregnancy Center anti-abortion ads to find a trustworthy abortion clinic. I was friends with Preterm on Facebook! I didn’t get frightened reading fake abortion rumors all over the internet; I knew where to find unbiased, medically-accurate information. I didn’t have to drive for hours and stay in a hotel; I lived less than 20 minutes away from one of the best abortion clinics in the country. The protesters ignored me when I pulled into the parking lot. I was a regular, and they recognized my car. I didn’t have to wait nervously in the waiting room, feeling embarrassed and ashamed and scared; I laughed and swapped cat pictures with a friend who was working there that day. I wasn’t worried about how much money I had in my checking account; my health insurance covered the entire cost of the procedure.
The procedure itself was quick and painless. The thing I remember most about that day is the fast food I ate on my way home: a cheeseburger and two orders of fries from Rally’s. My abortion was great, but I recognize that my experience was incredibly rare. And this is because of my immense geographic, financial, racial, social, and physical privilege.
Experiences like mine should be the rule – not the exception! Every single person on Earth deserves the same access to safe, legal, compassionate abortion services that I had. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Most people facing an unplanned pregnancy are met with a struggle that might feel like climbing a mountain. Alone. With a deadline. In the dark.
Last year, I quit my corporate job and joined the team at Preterm to work on issues related to abortion stigma full-time. I feel incredibly honored to help others end the silence to proudly raise their voices above the stigma and shame.