Last winter, I realized that my period was more than a few days late. Optimism prevailed for a while as my partner and I held out hope for a sluggish biological clock; by the end of a two month wait, however, all doubts were cast aside.
“Distraught” cannot begin to describe how we felt; after all, there were a number of factors stacked against our parental viability. We were college students without any substantial income or the emotional stability to handle a pregnancy, let alone a child. On top of that, I had never imagined I would be able to get pregnant. Birth control failure aside, my body was significantly underweight; was it, was I, in any state to support a healthy pregnancy?
I weighed my options and decided to have an abortion. My partner and I talked about payment, about whether either of us would regret this decision in the future. No, we agreed, having a child now would be the most regrettable thing. No sooner had I made the choice to abort than my head was filled with visions of irate picketers flashing graphic images and slogans at me as if I had not already considered this most important—and painful—of decisions. Feelings of shame, even anger—I wasn’t sure at whom—washed over me, but I was resolute.
Before scheduling an appointment, we bought a set of at-home pregnancy tests, just to be sure. The results left us stunned: “Not Pregnant.” Two words, in reality so impersonal and cold, felt warm as a human touch to one frightened young couple that Christmas week. Having been spared the hell of what could have been, we were free to experience the joy of the season with our loved ones.
Some people may disagree with my definition, but I believe in life. I believe in the quality of life that comes with being able to make choices about my body and my future. Does that make me both pro-choice and pro-life? I think so, but many others don’t. Our society has become so caught up in debate that it has lost sight of what we all truly care about: people. In this case, our concern for the welfare of others has manifested itself in conflicting ways, neither of which is right or wrong. I believe that my choice to abort was pro-life. Certainly my life would have been irrevocably altered by enduring a pregnancy at such a difficult time, as would the lives of the child and my partner. In choosing abortion, I chose health, happiness, and stability; more importantly, I chose self-empowerment.
In August, as I entered my new college’s campus for the first time, I realized that our imagined child would have been due by now. And even though I was lucky enough to not have to act on my decision all those months ago, I couldn’t help thinking: What a difference a choice makes.
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