Like most women whose stories I've read,
I never expected to be writing one of my own. Although I have always been pro-choice,
I never knew how I would act if I ever had to face an unwanted pregnancy. For
that reason, I was always extremely careful.
I used birth
control the very first time I had sex and then within a week, made my first
trip to Planned Parenthood. There
I obtained a diaphragm, which I used
successfully for the next 20 years. In those years, I did conceive and bear my
two planned and dearly wanted children. When my marriage ended, abstinence became
my primary method of birth control, until I met a man that I cared about and began
a brief, but meaningful affair. While we were careful about testing for AIDS,
birth control was not an issue; he had gotten a vasectomy
11 years ago. For the first time in my life, I didn't have to be the responsible
one - and yet I could rely on the most effective means of birth control available.
But, of course, no method is 100% effective.
I was always so regular
- so when I missed my period I was worried. I didn't think about pregnancy - I
thought about menopause. I did have a vague
discomfort in my recognition of the familiar symptoms: tender breasts, lower back
ache, fatigue, etc. At my best friend's urging, I finally took a pregnancy test
and it immediately showed a positive result. I was stunned. How could this happen?
Had he lied to me? I called by Doctor who agreed that it was unusual, but told
me that she had a patient now who was pregnant after a tubal
ligation. She hesitantly suggested that a tumor could also cause a hormonal
shift that would give a false positive. I flippantly said that I'd prefer a tumor
and she assured me that no, I really would not want that.
I was no longer
in contact with the man I had been seeing and began wondering how much of what
I knew about him was actually true. If he could lie about something like this,
what kind of person was he? Could he be a threat to me and my children? And so,
with some reluctance I called the one person who could answer my questions: his
former wife. The conversation began as awkwardly as expected. Although they had
been apart for over three years, they were close in many ways and she was taken
aback by my questions about him. As I explained my situation, her attitude changed
and we continued to talk for over three hours. In that conversation, she assured
me that everything I had believed about him was true. He was a person of great
integrity who would never lie about anything so important. Shortly after the birth
of their second child, he did indeed have a vasectomy.
The next day
I finally talked to him and we agreed that he should be tested to see if it was
possible for him to have fathered a child. This was on a Friday, which meant that
I had two long days in which to think about other possibilities. As I began doing
research about the failure rate of vasectomies, the chances that I could actually
be pregnant began to seem very remote: only one in a 1,000 vasectomies "fail".
But what else could be the problem? Then I remembered my doctor's comment about
tumors and began researching ovarian cancer. I found that many of the symptoms
were the same as pregnancy and that one in 70 women develop ovarian cancer, noting
that fewer than 50% survive five years beyond the diagnosis. Was I one in 70 or
one in 1,000? I quickly wrote a note explaining my findings and asking him to
call with his results as soon as possible. He called right away, saying that he
hadn't realized how frightening this must be for me and told me that he should
have the results by that afternoon. Within hours he called again to tell me the
"good news" - I was indeed pregnant. (We later learned that in cases
like his, the results can be inconsistent and he could just as easily have had
a negative result that day!)
It took a while for me to recover from
my relief and realize (again) my original panic. My marriage to the father of
my first two children had ended when my daughter was four and my son just 15 months.
His involvement in their lives has been minimal and I have learned what it means
to raise children alone; without emotional, physical, and sometimes even financial
help. My children are now nine and six and I am 40. I have always considered myself
to be very strong - but I honestly don't believe I am capable of starting over
and doing it again. While I believe that the father of this unborn child would
be there for the child, I realize how unrealistic it is for me to expect that
he would be there for me, too.
I have considered this from so many angles
I no longer know what shape it is. I do recognize that I am carrying a human life
- but I can't say that I value that life enough to sacrifice other lives for it.
If it were viable - capable of thought or feeling - I might feel differently.
But at this early stage, it is little more than a mass of tissue with the POTENTIAL
for full human life. That isn't to say that I don't feel regret or that I don't
value that potential. I already mourn this child and what it might have become.
It would be due on the day of my son's seventh birthday. In some ways I am glad
for that coincidence because I want to remember this child - to show respect for
the mark - however small - that he or she made on the world. But I cannot fool
myself about the reality of my life and how little I could offer and how much
this child would deplete the already limited resources now available to my two
whole children. I also know that this embryo is not yet capable of comprehending
what he/she is or what he/she might have been and that the loss is really my own.
I have an abortion scheduled in 10 days. As each day passes, I feel more
certain that this is the best decision for everyone involved (including the unborn
child). I have found a great deal of information about abortion on the web - but
nothing has been as helpful as the stories told on this site. In reading these
stories, I have understood the many different paths to the same juncture and I
have drawn my own strength from the strength of others who have been courageous
enough to share their experiences.
I hope that in sharing mine, I am now
offering at least one person some small modicum of the strength and support needed
to face the difficult dilemma of abortion. While I have no pride in having an
abortion, I do have pride in being a woman - a woman who like many of you has
had to look deep within myself to understand my choices and to make the one I
believe to be the best. Lynne
19 June 1999
more stories -- share your story
decision to end a pregnancy has the potential to raise all sorts of personal ethical
and moral questions about what the woman believes. Questions such as, "Who
matters more, me or my baby? When does the soul enter the body? Is there life
after death? or before? What about re-incarnation?"