My abortion saved my life
Content Warning: This article deals with thoughts of suicide and sexual assault.
When my period didn’t come, I knew. I just knew. In the bathroom at Walmart where I bought the $ 10 pregnancy test, I sat on the toilet and cried. Not just because I had been raped, and not just because of the shock of the test, but because I had been lied to all my life. My education focused solely on abstinence led me to believe that you cannot get pregnant as a result of rape. Yes, I was terrified of STDs (and later found out that I had contracted chlamydia from my nightmare), but everyone knew that your body couldn’t get pregnant if it was forced.
“Don’t have sex before you get married.”
“You can’t get pregnant from rape because your body can’t get pregnant during trauma. “
These were the main reasons given by my small conservative community as to why abortion could and should be illegal, as only girls who have sex outside of marriage would need an abortion. I vividly remember a Bible teacher telling me, “It just doesn’t happen. God will not allow it. It is a dangerous belief that is still widely held.
I had never had sex before being assaulted, and certainly not since. I thought I should have been safe, but here are two bright blue lines telling me I wasn’t.
Whether it was alcohol, weed, or a reaction to trauma, my memory of the night of my rape is patchy. Much of it is blurry, but there are also glimpses that I remember with perfect recall, sharp enough to cut me off when I least expect them.
I remember having a great time at the bonfire party I had with my roommates. I had just moved into an old farmhouse not far from my parents’ place in rural Ohio, feeling so independent at 19. The night started off like any other late spring barbecue, with cups overflowing with fruity alcohol-based punch and an absolute ton of weed. At one point, I probably had the time of my life. I remember saying goodnight to a lovely guitarist I had met, making my way through the crowd to the house.
I know that somewhere between the back door and my room in the attic, they grabbed me. I remember being groped by rough hands by a rope. If you know a cowboy, you know this feeling.
“She’s so trashed, but look at her breasts!” I remember one of them saying. Another smelled of sour cream and onion chips. His laughter echoed in the small space. I remember when I hit back I was rewarded with a punch to the side of the face that left my eye, cheek and temple black for over a week.
But that wasn’t the only farewell gift I received for my torture.
When I took a trusted friend, whom I knew she had experienced such horrors, she confirmed my worst fear: probably there was all I could do. Of course, I could point it out, and if I hadn’t been completely in denial and unable to make decisions afterwards, I would have, but I had no idea who my rapists were.
Still a teenager, I said to myself: “What are they going to do, do a DNA test on the 60 guys who were at the party?” Maybe they would limit the pool to men with rope calluses, or those who have eaten foul smelling chips. I knew for sure two things: one: I would be asked how much I had drunk and I was afraid the authorities would blame me for it; and two: my parents would find out. A shameful part of me worried about this more than anything. A shameful part of me still does.
At that point, I seriously considered killing myself. I reviewed shot after shot in my head. How could I do it, what I would write in my letter – but I couldn’t, because then my parents would know that I got pregnant, right? Some post-mortem blood tests or an autopsy would miss this fact.
The longest, loneliest two weeks of my life.
Even though my education was lacking, I knew that abortions were legal and not difficult to obtain in Ohio in 2003. It became my light at the end of the tunnel. One way I could live. So I opened my phone book, and right there under “Abortion” was the name and number of a clinic about 30 kilometers from my house. I called them from my work phone, irrationally worried that someone would see the number on my phone or my phone bill and know what I was doing.
In Ohio at the time, you had to do a urine test, which I did the next day, then come back for an ultrasound before you had an abortion. The test and ultrasound were free. The abortion was $ 425. Fortunately, I had just received my tax refund that week and had the money. The ultrasound revealed I was about seven weeks old. My period has always been very irregular, so I didn’t even know for a few weeks that I was pregnant. I scheduled my abortion for their first available appointment, two weeks later. The longest, loneliest two weeks of my life.
My best friend and her boyfriend drove me to my date and used their bodies to block me as they led me past the pit viper protesters yelling at me from the sidewalk. “Murderer”, “baby killer”, “fucking fucking”. I kept my head down. I was so scared that one of the protesters was someone who knew my parents that my blood pressure was almost too high to do the procedure.
The whole thing only took a few minutes, and after that I was sore and still traumatized, but a huge weight had been lifted. I would never be the same again, but I might find a way forward.
And I did. I went to college, got married, had kids, started a career, and had opportunity after opportunity to stand up for others like me. But I have never told my story before now. Not until we spent all night earlier this month sobbing for the people of Texas who might find themselves in situations similar to mine and have absolutely no choice but to stay pregnant and carry this out. term child. Rape, forced pregnancy, forced birth, forced decision to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Trauma after trauma.
I am worried about their mental health. I’m afraid more people will take the road I almost took. I’m afraid some will try to fail and then be sued for $ 10,000 because their incomplete suicide resulted in miscarriage. There is no language in SB 8, Texas’ ban and bounty law, that protects against this.
But it is of course not only rape victims who need and should have access to abortion. This medical procedure should be safe and accessible to all pregnant women who want it, for whatever reason. Yet this latest abomination of a Texas law is just the latest attack on our right to choose, and it won’t be the last.
Although my story is tragic, not all of them are, and it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter. Abortion is health care – period. One in 3 people at risk of getting pregnant will have an abortion before the age of 45, and those who are already parents have more abortions than any other group.
The Strawman’s biggest argument against abortion is, “What could become of these fetuses?” But I ask, “What could these women accomplish if they don’t have to keep a pregnancy they don’t want?”
Anti-choice people never care whether ending a pregnancy saves someone’s sanity or even prevents suicide. In my case, he did. I expect in many cases it will. I’m afraid we’re about to find out.
Being brutally raped almost 20 years ago was the end of my story. But now I’m a mom. I finished college, fell in love, traveled, had a few dogs and cats, and had two amazing, smart, and wonderful children. I have a career that I love in a city that I love and a family that I support and that supports me. My story continues, because an abortion was part of it.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also contact Trans Lifeline at 877-565- 8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or at your local suicidal crisis center.