Michigan and Georgia, 1998 and 2003
When girls I knew had abortions, I thought, I would never. But I did the thing I thought I’d never do. I was 19, at college in Michigan. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant—we’d used condoms—and I was disappointed in myself. I knew my mother would consider the pregnancy God’s will, so I didn’t tell her. I told a friend who’d just gotten one. When we got to the clinic, the waiting room was full, and I remember thinking, Wow, some of these girls are from school. I didn’t feel alone. I wasn’t the only one. I paid for it with my tax return, 300-and-something-dollars. I chose to stay awake during the procedure, even though I was afraid of the pain. The second time, I was 24, living in Atlanta, and into my career. It hit me more emotionally. I thought, I really do want this baby, because I want a family, but I couldn’t imagine that with my boyfriend. I’d just taken a friend to have an abortion, so she took me. There’s something about having someone with you who’s been through the same thing that’s comforting.
We had a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old and hadn’t envisioned having more. At first I thought, Well, I love my husband, and we have plenty of money. I had this naïve notion that access to abortion was easy for people like us. I called my doctor, who referred me to someone else because that practice didn’t perform abortions. I’d never thought of myself as someone who goes to a clinic. I called five doctors, each time having to explain how I’d gotten the number, as if I needed some secret code. Pittsburgh has world-class medical centers, but it took a couple of days to get an appointment. Pennsylvania is one of 26 states that require a waiting period between counseling and the procedure. We went back the next day. The staff was great. It felt a lot like a regular checkup but with painful cramping. My insurance covered the whole thing. In the waiting room, my husband said, “Where do you want to go on vacation?” We booked a trip to Spain.