Mapping Out Abortion: An Elegy
I remember reading articles when I was younger, probably in Seventeen Magazine, about young women who had gone through abortions. These articles painted portraits of broken young women, in perpetual mourning for their dead babies. One article described how a girl would write letters to her aborted baby every day. While I do not deny the validity of these experiences, the narrative of the young woman broken by her abortion was not one that I experienced or one that I see happening to people who have abortions. The abortion was the easiest part. I had a medication abortion. It was physically painful, but I didn’t give the act of getting an abortion a second thought. Getting to chose abortion was an act of autonomy, of choosing myself, of reclamation. My abortion was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. But it was hard. I lost a best friend. My relationship with men and society irrevocably changed. My body and my heart took a toll. It happened more than a year ago, and I’m only just now finding that I can start to process and reflect on my experience. I have a supportive family and an intensely nourishing and uplifting group of friends. My insurance didn’t cover my abortion, but my mom helped me pay out of pocket for it. Scheduling the abortion in San Diego was the easiest thing. I’ve never felt more privileged to have what felt like nearly unrestrained access to abortion as healthcare. Pregnancy was traumatic. Not knowing what was happening to my body, and feeling alien to myself for so long was jarring. The person who got me pregnant, one of my best friends and confidants, dipped out of my life after my abortion. He was seeing someone new, and couldn’t deal with the shame, or the inconvenience that I presented to his life. He never offered to help—financially, emotionally, or otherwise. I bled for ten weeks straight. My hormones were so out of whack, it felt like every day was a crisis. I didn’t know how to function anymore. I felt like I was falling. But I also felt love. My friends and I had a party when my boobs shrunk down to their normal size. I had people in my camp to love me and support me when I needed it the most: my beautiful and strange friends who accept me at my lowest and loudest and everything in between. So now, more than a year later, I’m writing to you. It took time and space, and a lot of floundering and not knowing, but I feel that I can finally look back on who I was and see how that person and what she went through fits into where I am going. We need stories about abortion, we need to create space for people to share their stories. Abortion is not just policy, it is tangible. It is a story told through our voices, our words, phone calls, texts, late-night conversations with loved ones, crying alone, crying with someone, laughing, feeling lost, feeling powerful, and so much more. I put my story down the way I experienced it: through records of notes, phone calls, jokes, music, photos. It is not by any means polished, linear, or clear. It’s just how it was, and how it is sometimes. You can take a look at my project here: https://eden-bhalla.squarespace.com/config/?frameUrl=%2Fnew-page-1. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in mapping out your, or their, experience with abortion in a similar way, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for listening. Thank you for being here.