Cristine's Story

I was raised Catholic. This is typically a recipe for disaster for teenage girls, but somehow I managed to avoid many of the stereotypes that come with twelve years of Catholic school. I was a straight A student throughout high school and into my first year at a prestigious private college. My boyfriend and I had been together for two years and planned to get married when I graduated college. But when I was nineteen, a wrench was thrown into my potential-filled life. I missed one day of birth control pills but, unfortunately, this is all it takes to get pregnant.

My boyfriend held my hand as I took four pregnancy tests, insisting that they must be wrong. They weren't. I was terrified. My parents had recently cut off all financial and emotional support due to a conflict over what college I would be attending my sophomore year. I knew that if I told them I would be permanently cut out of their lives and could not count on any support. In fact, it was more likely that they would only make the situation worse. The only thing that was solid in my life was my relationship with my boyfriend and my best friend. I convinced myself that this was enough. My friend could babysit for us if we decided to keep the child, or we could get a grant from a hospital to pay for the pregnancy and then give our baby up for adoption.

While I had been adamantly pro-choice my entire life, it was somehow different when I was the one who was pregnant, when it was my potential child in question. My boyfriend and I spent many sleepless nights crying, agonizing over our decision, knowing that there really was no right choice in our situation. How could two people who planned to have children together one day give up their potential first child? But then again, what right did we have to bring a child into the world for whom we were not ready? We could not take care of this child. I could hardly take care of myself.

One night over dinner the decision was finally made. After research into a fetus's level of awareness (it has none), ability to feel pain, and brain functioning (Again, none on both counts), we realized that an abortion was the ONLY moral decision in our situation. I called a clinic and signed up for an abortion. I was convinced, after hearing abortion horror stories throughout high school from the nuns who were my teachers, that I would die on the operating table or suffer horrible complications.

I entered the clinic in a complete panic, but the counselors quickly calmed me down. They ensured me that I was very safe, that I would be ok, and I would go on to have a happy life. I cannot express the debt I owe to them for the emotional help they gave me. After several hours of waiting in the clinic, my name was called. I laid on the exam table, terrified, as the doctor began performing the procedure. I was not prepared for the pain. It hurt a lot, but only lasted a few minutes and I was fine afterward. I realized that the brief pain of an abortion was worth avoiding a lifetime of pain and regret over having a child I could not take care of.

I had little emotional reaction to the procedure, probably because I had done my grieving beforehand. I find myself getting very angry at those who wish to take away a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. I really feel that they have no right to have an opinion if they have not been in my situation. I knew what was best for my body, my life, and for me, and each individual woman is capable of making that decision for herself. Abortion may not be best for everyone, but it was what was right for me.

To all woman: Do not allow yourselves to feel guilty over becoming pregnant. You are the only one who can decide what is best for you, and you have a right to have a happy and wonderful life, with or without a child.

3 April 2003

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"A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space."
- Gloria Steinem