My Decision to Have an Abortion
Originally Published: August 13, 2015
Revised: August 13, 2015
Imagine you’re 15 years old. You go to the emergency room because you slammed your finger in a door, and you walk out with the biggest news of your life. Well, that 15-year-old was me.
A Simple Hospital Visit
I was a freshman in high school, and the week before, I had slammed my finger in a car door. At first it was just painful, red and swollen, but then a blood clot formed that wouldn’t go away. So my mother decided to take me to the hospital. Everything was normal at the beginning. I went through triage (getting my temperature taken, peeing in a cup, explaining what was wrong with my finger, etc.). Then I was put into a room where I waited with my mother to see a doctor. The doctor came in and explained that I needed a pregnancy test before I could get an x-ray to find out if my finger was broken. I didn’t think I was pregnant because I had gotten my period.
We waited a long time to have someone take me for an x-ray, and as my mother went out to ask for the doctor, the doctor came in. The look on the doctor’s face was one of pity, sympathy and a little disgust. She sat at the end of the bed, looked down and said, “Your test came back positive.” At first, I was confused because I hadn’t taken any test. She must have seen my face because she said, “Your pregnancy test.” My mom, looked at her and said, “No, that’s not right. That must be wrong.” The doctor looked at my mother and said, “I tested it three times.” After she said that, my mother got up and left. I felt so confused and scared. This had to be the worst moment of my life. My mom just left because I suppose she needed to process, and so did I.
Choosing what to do was so scary though, scarier than being 15 and pregnant because this decision would change how my life turned out.
It was only once, I said to myself. It was with a condom. All I kept thinking was, How is this happening to me? This can’t happen to me. I’m too smart for this. And I cried right there in room 63 of the hospital.
Finally after about 30 minutes, my mother came back looking so pale even for her dark complexion. The doctor walked in and explained that they couldn’t do an x-ray because I was pregnant. But they could get rid of the blood clot she explained. I was given a splint just in case I had a break. She referred me to a gynecologist to confirm that I was pregnant, and I was discharged.
On the way home, my mother tried to hold a conversation with me, but I couldn’t talk. I had too much going on in my head. I was feeling so lost, so unhinged, so scared. Even if I wanted to talk, I didn’t know what to say. The next day I went to the gynecologist, and it was confirmed that I was indeed six weeks pregnant.
Two days later my mother talked to me about my options. It was ironic that she told me it was my decision, but she said adoption wasn’t an option. So in some way she still had a say; the options I had were the ones she chose for me: become a mother or have an abortion. It angered me because she was dictating what I could do, even though she said it was my decision. Choosing what to do was so scary though, scarier than being 15 and pregnant because this decision would change how my life turned out. I was young, and the guy I had had sex with wouldn’t be around to be a father if I decided to continue this pregnancy.
I wavered back and forth. I knew that I didn’t want to raise a child alone, but I also wanted a baby. On the other hand, I was only 15, which meant a lot of the responsibility would be on my mother, and I wouldn’t have a life. I would be stigmatized and stereotyped. I didn’t want people to see me and think that young black girls are only good for lying on their backs and making babies. I didn’t want people to see me and think I was another dumb girl who couldn’t keep her legs closed. I didn’t want the whispers and sideways looks. I wanted a better life than the one I could give a baby. This was so hard for me.
Finally I made my decision. I decided to have an abortion. I cried and I cried because it was not what I wanted, but it was best for everyone. I couldn’t take care of a baby, and I couldn’t leave a baby to my parents to take care of. I told my mom. The next day she called and set up the appointment.
That week was the longest of my life, but finally the day was here. My mom and I got up early and drove to the clinic. Outside were people with signs about how abortion was wrong, and I remember one lady looked me straight in the eyes and yelled, “You’re going to hell for murder. You’re killing one of God’s children.” I nearly passed out, but I kept walking because she didn’t know me and my story. I had to be strong.
I sat with my mom and waited for my name to be called. I was so scared. So many times I thought of backing out and saying I wanted to go home, but I didn’t. Finally, I was called back to sit in a small crowded room full of women I didn’t know, but with whom I now shared something. When it was my time, I walked into the room with tears in my eyes. I was scared, angry and sad. I was scared because what if something happened, angry for putting myself in this position because it was my fault and sad because I feared this would haunt me. The last thing I remember was the doctor saying it would be over soon. And I woke up and it was over.
I don’t regret having an abortion for one second because it was a conscious decision that I made; I regret not being informed enough to know to check if the condom was put on right. That is my one regret.
It is quite easy to look from the outside and judge my decision without knowing the process or the struggle. I want people to not judge what they don’t know. I want girls out there to know that choosing to have an abortion may not be an easy decision to make. But if you are pregnant, there are other people going through what you’re going through. Be strong, march on because it’s not over yet. There is still more life to live. Don’t let people’s ideas about you and your decision—whatever it may be—define you because they are not you. You are you, and it’s your life so please live it.
*Elisa Owens is a pseudonym for an 18-year-old who lives in New Jersey.
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