By Kat (Texas)
I had my first abortion at 17, a few weeks before my state made it mandatory for minors to inform their parent/guardian. I was smarter than average, prettier than average, but with the shit self-esteem that comes from being a teen. I’d also borne witness to a lot of family dysfunction and domestic violence. So of course, I was ripe pickin’ for a smarter than average, popular, manipulative, denigrating, and violent boy. We were the same age but he’d been skipped a grade and was in college already. He first hit me after we’d been dating a few months. He apologized, swore it wouldn’t happen again, and I believed him. After all, being smarter than average didn’t negate my upbringing. He didn’t hit constantly, just often enough to remind me. We had unprotected sex on a few occasions, though generally it was protected. I got pregnant. When I told him about it, he locked me in his room in an otherwise empty dormitory (it was over the summer, and he was such a great guy he’d been given this position of running facets of freshmen orientation for the incoming students). While I was locked in there for two days he beat me worse than ever and added rape to his repertoire. When he slept I got the keys from him and got out, then walked a few miles on broken toes to a friend’s house (he was clever in his abuse, so he rarely hurt me in casually visible spots). I didn’t have money to entirely pay for the abortion myself, so I had to steal half of it from him. He didn’t react well. It led to some chase scenes through the streets as he was hunting me down. But I did successfully get away from him and get the abortion, and I was incredibly grateful for it. It didn’t hurt, and the staff was so kind. I recovered for a couple of days at my friend’s. The sister of my friend wound up telling people about seeing me battered and recovering, so eventually all of our mutual friends dropped him from our social circle once they learned of it.
While I did not magically develop self-respect overnight, it certainly paved the way. I was able to start college myself a few weeks later and I didn’t stop until I got my Master’s. I’m currently pursuing my Ph. D. part-time with a burgeoning career in a field I love. Most likely none of this would have happened had I not aborted. In fact, I would probably have stayed with him at least a few years more, worked menial jobs, and lived with the abuse, all while he received his degree from his ritzy college. And then our kid could have borne witness to the dysfunction and violence, no doubt experiencing plenty of the beatings first-hand. When the marriage was over I would be left as the sole care-taker of a small child, I would have no higher education, I would have little valuable job skills, and I would have no sense of self-worth. Of course, this would have made me ripe pickin’ for the next manipulative asshole who came along. Which would have completely replicated my mother’s experience as a teen mom.
Since then, I have had one miscarriage and one more abortion. I have been so thankful for all three stopped pregnancies (while not my incredible fertility). I’ve made the decision to not have kids, though I’m a very involved aunt and godmother. And although often it has been an awful, chaotic mess, I now love my life. I am exactly where I want to be.