I am 34 years old and 20 weeks pregnant. I can feel my little fetus moving around inside me, and am filled with wonder and joy. I am so excited and ready to be a parent, and have been planning for and dreaming of this baby since before it was conceived. If all goes well, this will be my first child. However, this is my third pregnancy. The second ended with a miscarriage earlier this year; I was heartbroken. The first was an abortion when I was 24 years old.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was not in a good place to be a parent. I was uncertain of the future of my relationship with the father. I had some health problems and was trying to finish school. I had little money and only a part time job. I felt overwhelmed by my life as it was, and couldn't imagine adding a baby to the mix without having a complete meltdown. I had total clarity that an abortion was the right thing to do. I believed then and believe now that abortion is the killing of a potential person, but I didn't and don't believe that my embryo had consciousness or an independent will to live. The choice about whether to have it was really up to me. Although I was sad about the loss of the embryo's potential, the clarity I had about the right thing to do was also a great gift to me. At a time when I was struggling to assert my own worth and figure out what I wanted, this was one time when I knew what I needed to be healthy and whole.
On the day of my abortion, I was accompanied by my good friend and also felt a sense of kinship with the other women at the clinic. I was treated with kindness and respect by the counselors, doctors, and nurses. As I lay in recovery, I felt great gratitude for all the people who have fought for the right to a safe, legal abortion. Afterwards, my friend and I went and sat at a public park watching a family with many kids playing after a picnic. I thought about the little one I'd chosen not to have with sadness, but also with a sense of peace and readiness to return to building my own life. I watched the children, admiring their vitality and joyfulness, and hoped that someday--at the right time--I would be a mother.
Now, a decade later and feeling my fetus wriggling inside me like a little fish as I write, I still feel full of peace about my abortion and am grateful that I was able to have one. I am now training as an obstetrician/gynecologist. I am committed to providing abortions as well as other types of care (such as providing contraception and delivering babies) for my patients, in the service of helping each one make the right choices for herself.
2 August 2009
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