I do not regret my choice because it served as a catalyst for growth, from the person I was into the person I am now: self-aware, accountable, confident and proud.
I WAS standing naked, studying the profile of my slightly protruding gut in the mirror then looking down to examine my rounded abdomen, as if seeing with my own eyes would contradict what my reflection was revealing to me.
I looked to my dresser, my empty birth-control pack glaring at me. I hadn’t refilled my prescription for months because of nothing more than plain negligence and sheer irresponsibility.
I had been working full-time as a methadone-maintenance substance-abuse counselor while working part-time at Gap, mechanically folding clothes in the evenings like a sleepwalking robot operating on low-battery. As a child of a dysfunctional household, I grew up learning to seek comfort by validating other people’s emotions, since my family could not validate mine. I had been genuinely excited for the opportunity to change lives as a methadone counselor, one individual at a time.
But I had wanted them to change me. Without initially realizing it, my caseload of patients offered the same merit as my first friendships: to make my existence feel purposeful. My intentions were benevolent, but in practice were flawed and self-serving. The same was true for my romantic relationships, and one in particular — a guy I might’ve forgotten about by now, had he not unknowingly contributed 23 chromosomes to my unborn’s existence.
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I kept preoccupied with work, friends and boys so I wouldn’t have the space for self-discovery because I wasn’t yet mature enough to face the dysfunction of my family that inadvertently echoed throughout my life. How could I possibly raise a baby when I couldn’t even take charge of my own life?
Though religiously ambiguous, morally I was not. The alternative to terminate my pregnancy was not simply black and white, right or wrong, considering potential psychological damage that could result from adoption.
Though the pregnancy was the consequence of my and his joint recklessness, choosing an abortion was not; deciding to terminate my pregnancy was the responsible resolution, instead of birthing a baby that would’ve been born from irresponsibility and unfairly burdened with my utter unpreparedness at motherhood. It was an act of selflessness as much as it was selfishness, knowing that I wasn’t yet financially, mentally and, especially, emotionally equipped to care for someone outside of myself.
At that time, all I would’ve had to offer my newborn was the cavity of my heart and the expectation of filling it, just as I had with everything else. I wanted to be able to cradle my baby out of pure love, rather than projecting my need to be loved in return. And I knew I wasn’t yet capable of loving honestly and wholly. If I ever wanted to have a family one day, the person I had to first nurture and love was the one that would provide the foundation for all other relationships to follow: me.
All these reasons guided my fingers to Google to type the well-thought-out keys of my future: “NYC abortion clinic.” That was more than four years ago.
What was my choice may not be the right choice for another, but it is not my place to impose my belief on anyone else. But therein lay the answer: choice — which is what the right wing is trying to denounce while undermining women’s rights through new bans and restrictions placed on abortion, as well as defaming Planned Parenthood.
Too often, we women are quickly judged and easily villainized for recognizing that we aren’t ready to be mothers and for exercising our right to decide that. Instead, we are shamed into silence while hearing political parties and organizations lobbying on legislation that affects our private bodies and lives.
The statistical probability is that you are acquainted with someone — a friend, family member or colleague — who has had an abortion, regardless of what political party or religion you belong to. That is why we as a nation need to practice understanding, not stigmatization.
In my mental calendar, I don’t have a circle around the day my 5-week-old fetus died, because I don’t recall. If I were to circle a date, I would instead circle my heart because that’s where I remember and that’s where the memory remains.
And though I will always remember, I do not regret my choice because it served as a catalyst for growth, from the person I was into the person I am now: self-aware, accountable, confident and proud.