Terri's Story
Love and abortion

In March of 1998, when I was 22, I became pregnant after 4 months in a relationship with the man who was to become my husband a year and a half down the road. It shook up my whole life. My breasts grew huge and tender, my moods went haywire and my body plumped up immediately. It was quite scary. I felt as if I were possessed, something was changing my body for its own purposes and I had no choice in the matter. It made me angry too.

I had previously been married for 3 years to a man who became a religious fanatic- a complete antiabortion, anti-contraception and who wanted to have children (no fornication without procreation!) and never a pregnancy. Here I was, out of that mess unscathed and without child and suddenly with my future husband this happens- the condom we used came off in the middle of the act. It was just too ironic that when I thought it was most possible to happen it didn't and at the worst time it did.

The only things I had heard about abortion had been my ex's rants on "evil child killers". I had personally never had a stance on the subject. I figured it should be legal but I had never known someone who had one and I certainly never thought I would be in the position to choose.

I knew I could not provide for this child, I had just quit my job at the local bar and was barely covering our living expenses with my other job at the pizza place. We were living in a college town and my boyfriend of 4 months had a string of debits and creditors. I just knew I could not support a child and yet I loved the thought of us united in the flesh of this child. I wanted to have an abortion but I was afraid of losing my lover- even then I knew he was the one I wanted as my lifemate. I was afraid that if I mentioned abortion he would be upset that I was disposing of something that was part him. I was also frightened of someone poking anything into my uterus, and scared that my Catholic family would somehow find out and make me raise it.

I had so many mixed feelings and the hormones didn't help. I feared that my boyfriend would think I was a terrible person for not wanting his child. It took him a while to convince me that he didn't want a child either, so many of the men I had dated were hungry for fatherhood I could hardly believe he wouldn't have the same desire. He was sincere and so tolerant of my mood swings and understanding of what I was going through.

He borrowed money off his mom for the operation, giving her some unspecified reason, helped me set up the appointment and held me while I cried. He took the day off to go with me to the clinic and was my support through the whole procedure. They performed an ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy. I asked to see it and the technician said no and gave me a strange look. I figure she must have thought it would upset me but by the time I had called to make the appointment I was already at peace with my decision. If this soul was meant to come into the world it would find another way. I was just stalling it, it would be born through someone else, someone who could give it a life of plenty.

I was taken to a room for a blood test and I passed out. I normally have low blood sugar and the direction not to eat before the surgery added to the pregnancy must have decreased it more. The nurses gave me glucose tablets and watched me, then conducted me to another room to await the actual abortion.

I was seated next to a very pretty African-American woman awaiting the same procedure. She and I chatted a bit, I a little more nervously than she. She already had two little boys and said she had planned on having her tubes tied so that this wouldn't have happened. However she couldn't find anywhere that would do it because she was 22 and wasn't married. It didn't count that she had been with her boyfriend for 4 years, or that she already had two children, they wouldn't perform the surgery on her. I was amazed- the medical society would not let her control her own reproductive system.

I was also astounded that she had children. Anti-abortionist love to make it sound like women who are pro-choice are bad mothers or that they must have no sensitivity or maternal feelings. This woman glowed when she showed me pictures of her two little beautiful boys. She had no denial that what she was doing today was removing the potential for a third smiling face, she also knew that she was not able to sustain the same life for herself or her current children if she had another. She was called to the operating room and I was left in the waiting room feeling more worthwhile than I had since this whole episode of my life started.

Soon, it was my turn. I went to the operating room and after a short wait for the doctor I had my abortion. It was shorter than I had expected. The doctor and the nurse were both female and were very kind warning me about the feeling of cramping and prodding and the nausea that comes after the anesthetic. I remember feeling miserable because I was nauseated and thinking I deserved it because anytime one makes an important decision there is always this bad side along with the good.

I felt relieved and a little bit of loss because I will probably never tell my family. There is a little part of me that is sad because I will never be what they think I am and the abortion sealed that because it changed my whole outlook on the subject. I was never against a woman's right to choose, I just had never been for it before. I do not regret my decision. I regret that others are not open-minded.

My boyfriend took me home and made sure I took my antibiotics, he set up my checkup appointment and generally took care of me the rest of the day. I went to work the next day. In October of 1999 I married that man who supported me in my choice. We both believe women should have the right to choose and those that are against it should cross their legs to prevent the chance that they may change their minds when they are suddenly placed in the position where they must take stock of all their options.

I also support research for alternative methods of birth control. After my conversation with the woman in the waiting room, I called around to local hospitals. From what I understand a woman cannot have her tubes tied before she has two or three children and is over 23 and must have her husband's consent. A man can have a vasectomy and any age or any time, regardless of his wife's veto. It is hard to believe that there is such obvious sexism in this regard. I hope maybe I misunderstood the description of the laws.

27 February 2000

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Abortion restrictions vary from state to state.  "NARAL's Who Decides" report explains each state's restrictions.

P.S. I was reading over Lizzy's story and I had similar feelings after the abortion. Sex was not enjoyable afterwards for a long time, I was so very tense, partly from the fear of becoming pregnant again (even though I was on the pill) and partly because I felt "violated" even though it was with my consent. I just had to have time to reclaim my body back as my own. I didn't want to be touched for a long time afterwards. I would say it took me at least a year to enjoy sex the way I used to. And I still have the same complete turn off when my husband accidentally hits my cervix. The abortion was a necessary invasion into my private self. Not only did I have to be prodded by complete strangers (very nice strangers who tried to be comforting, but still strangers) in my most private areas but I really had a great change in my beliefs. It was something I had never really thought about before. I remember feeling it was a violation or rape that I tolerated for my own benefit. I still do not regret my decision, but it was a very strange time of my life.

P.P.S. I just want to thank you for your wonderful site. I shared my story on your site and it means so much more to me now because my friend who is only 17 just went through an abortion. Until I found out she was pregnant, I had never told anyone about it. I opened up and told her about it and it is such a release to share our feelings on the experience, both the good and bad of it. I felt as if I had been through this for a reason and I was meant to help out someone with my story. The timing was just too close. I am moving in a couple weeks to go back to school and I would love any recommendations for becoming an active supporter of choice. If you happen to know any organizations or clinics I can volunteer at, please let me know. I would like to make certain that the choice is there for others like it was there for me. Thanks!