On May 15th, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wrote in one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the history of the Western World. It makes providing an abortion a felony, punishable with up to 99 years in prison, with no exception but saving a mother’s life. It has no consideration for incest or rape.
There’s been a lot of talk about what this means for the future, and what this means for women. I wanted to know what women like me were actually saying about this law.
We cannot fall for the narrative that the news is continuing to spin. The focus is on the 25 white men who voted in favor of this law. But this law isn’t about them, it’s about us. We as women need to talk together about what this means for us and what we can do to fight laws that are affecting our livelihood and our futures.
I decided that I needed to speak to a woman who had gone through the experience of an abortion. I’ll be honest, I have been fortunate to have never had to decide whether to keep a baby or not. It has always been in the back of my mind, in the event that I did have to choose. I always assume that I, like many other women, would have the choice. The thought of that decision being taken away from me permanently, is horrific.
I interviewed a friend about her experience having an abortion during her freshman year of college.
What was your experience with abortion? What made you decide to get an abortion?
I was 18 years old and in my second semester of college when I got pregnant. I was dating a sophomore in college for about 4 months. I was taking a pill form of birth control at the time. When I missed my period I didn’t think anything of it because I knew I was on birth control and I knew I never let my boyfriend finish inside me. However, with each day that passed my period didn’t come. My best friend suggested that I go get a pregnancy test and I laughed because it never crossed my mind that I could possibly pregnant. I did not tell my boyfriend that I could possibly be pregnant because I didn’t think it was necessary for him to get worked up if I wasn’t positive. So my best friend and I went to the store and get a test. We went into our communal bathroom in the dorm and I took it. When the results showed that it was positive, I was in shock, I thought no way could this possibly be true. I immediately took a second one because I didn’t trust the results; however, the outcome was the same I was pregnant.
I called my boyfriend and told him over the phone and he rushed over to my room and held me as I hysterically cried. I couldn’t imagine having a baby at 18, I barely could take care of myself how was I going to be able to take care of someone else. My boyfriend tried to calm me down, but there was no calming down my fear.
My boyfriend without hesitation said let’s keep this baby, drop out of college and move into his mothers basement. He said we can do this. However, I knew I couldn’t do it. Becoming pregnant put my life into perspective and the life I would want for my future child. I didn’t want to bring a baby into this world while living in a basement. I had no job and no money to care for this child. In addition to not being able to provide the life I would want for this baby I took a hard look at my boyfriend and asked is this really someone I would want to have a child with? He smoked weed multiple times a day, he dabbled in drugs such as acid, shrooms, and coke. He chain smoked cigarettes and had a .92 GPA his last semester. All of a sudden a guy that I was infatuated with was no longer so appealing.
I told my boyfriend that I decided that I wasn’t going to go through with the pregnancy, he immediately told me he didn’t agree, and that he wanted me to change my mind, but my mind was made up. He then told me that if I went through with this abortion that he would never speak to me again. But I was willing to take that risk because I knew neither one of us were ready to be parents.
My sister took me to a women’s center to get a surgical abortion. When I arrived early in the morning to the building there were protesters outside with signs and they yelled things at me like “baby killer.” One lady handed me a pamphlet that was about finding Jesus and how I’m going to hell for doing what I’m doing. I was enraged, these people did not know my situation or me.
My sister and I pushed through and go into the building. Once in the building the environment changed. The staff was so kind and I no longer felt judged or attacked. The entire process took all day, I arrived at 7 and left at 4. I was put under and had no memory of the surgery. Once I woke up, my sister was there in the recovery room to take me back to my dorm.
On the drive home I immediately called my boyfriend to tell him that I was ok, but he didn’t answer. I texted him and I got no response. However, I was so exhausted and mentally drained that I just went to my room and fell asleep. My sister stayed with me that not to make sure I was ok. The next day I felt weak, but was happy with my decision. I tried to call my boyfriend repeatedly, but he never answered. Eventually, he texted me and said “you made your choice and I made mine, please don’t contact me again.”
I knew he had threaten to never talk to me again, but I didn’t believe he’d stay true to his word. But he did, my boyfriend never spoke to me again for the next 9 years.
9 years later we spoke for the first time. I was shocked to hear that he wanted to tell me he regretted how he handled our situation and now that he is older, he realizes that I made the best decision. That he wasn’t ready to be a father and he wouldn’t have been able to provide the proper life for that child. It was such a relief to hear that he felt the same way I felt even though it was 9 years later.
Looking back 12 years, I still believe that I made the best decision for myself and for my boyfriend of the time.
Why do you think choice is important?
I feel that everyone has the right to their own opinion; however, no one should force their opinion on others. Whether you think abortion is wrong or if you are ok with it, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have the choice for your own body. There are so many different situations that women go through that you can’t possible lump them all into the same category. It’s easy to judge from the outside looking in; however, when you are going through it, things are not as clear and easy. There are so many cases of rape, and miscarriages that need surgical removal, and teen pregnancy, that are not so black and white. These women have already been through enough, they should not be subjected to integrations from our government.
To me women are always going to seek out an abortion if that’s what they need, but now we are taking away a safe environment for them to go to.
Being pro choice doesn’t mean you are pro abortion, it means that you want to give them women the right to make decisions regarding their own body and their own health and safety.
How do you feel about the fact that the bill passed in Alabama was written into law by a white woman?
Some states now have stiffer penalties for pregnant incest and rape victims who seek abortion than they do for rapist and pedophiles. It just shows that we do not value the lives of women and girls.
I asked my homegirl who migrated from Russia years ago on the recent abortion law. I felt that she would offer a unique perspective, and she did not disappoint.
“I feel like yet again American white women showed there asses by siding with the white man. I’ve been working in court house for almost two years now and I see this shit go down all too often. The passive nature of siding with older white men and their bigoted ideas in order to come off as “one of the boys”, “easy going” and even “smart”. It’s tragic really but not shocking. When I moved to America I noticed it right away. White women in this country only want to be “equals” with the white man. They are as privilege hungry as the gay white men. This ban will negatively effect all women but women of color will be punished by this ban the most, just watch. And that I believe was the main point of passing some bullshit like this. The gag is that these white women have played the biggest con on themselves: white men will never accept them as “equals”.
And then I just feel anger, I feel betrayed still. I imagine what I would have said if some bullshit ban like this came across my desk, and I just feel disappointed in those women. Because no matter how much privilege they came from I still believe they know what it’s like to feel unsafe in our bodies and that shit blows me the most. Like how could you do this?!? But then I remember why: racism: white America’s only ‘cultural’ contribution.”
At this point, we as women collectively need to come together and get as involved in politics as we possibly can. We can not afford to allow government officials to dictate what happens with our bodies. Women should be at the table making decisions about women’s health The agenda has to come from a united front in order to start dismantling white patriarchy, and this cannot happen if ALL women cannot band together.
If you’re interested in fighting against abortion laws in your state, or want to know more about your rights, here are some helpful sites to get started: