“If I always remember, then I’ll never forget and make the same mistake twice.”
Elise*, 22, paused for a moment, staring at nothing and no one in particular as she recalled the moment she was having an abortion performed. While visiting family in New Jersey, she was introduced to a guy through her cousin. The two hung out a lot, resulting in them sleeping together. She left New Jersey to return home to Maryland, before starting college in Miami, only to find that she was pregnant at 18 years old.
“I knew what I had to do. It wasn’t one of those things you think about more than once,” she says, with a heavy sigh. “I was scared, but there was no turning back, you just do it. I was squirming at first, and the doctor told me, ‘If you squirm again I can’t take this out.’ I laid still and just beared with the pain as he sucked it out. When he was done, I watched him pour it down the drain.”
She opted to stay awake during the operation, in order to teach herself a lesson.
Elise’s story is not unfamiliar to many young women. According to Abortion.org, 50% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25: women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions; teenagers obtain 17% and girls under 15 account for 1.2%.
Women’s rights has taken center stage in the current presidential election. And, with that, the controversial issue of abortion has become an incessant point of conversation.
While President Barack Obama fully supports a woman’s right to choose, his opponent does not. Softening his initial, aggressive stance, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would back laws in support of protecting life. Earlier in the presidential race, he said he wanted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint judges to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
When Elise had made her decision, she went to Planned Parenthood to have her abortion performed. The procedure cost around $300. Elise says Planned Parenthood is a good resource for those who need it, and even believes the abortion numbers would be higher if taken away.
“It’s not your decision,” says Elise, referring to the constant debate between politicians over a woman’s right to an abortion. “If I had kept my child, I would not have been able to go to school, to better myself, and provide a life— and then I would have been a statistic. My parents would not have helped me, and then I would have been looking around—mad at the world, when it was my fault.
“They’re not the ones who are quick to be a statistic,” said Elise, about the Republican party’s stance on the issue.
According to The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the most common reasons women receive abortions are due to interference with school, work, not wanting to be a single parent and not being able to afford a child.
Though this happened years ago, there are times when Elise is reminded of her decision.
“Every now and then I get a baby killer text message or phone call,” she says in reference to the guy who impregnated her. He wanted her to keep the child, but offered no assistance in wanting to help raise their child.
She now takes birth control pills and whenever she is in a relationship, she always uses protection. As of now, she’s undecided about whether she wants children someday.
Elise resides in Maryland and is finishing her last year of college. She hopes to own her own event planning business in the future.
*Name has been changed.