I remember it clearly; it was 10th-grade civil history class and we were just starting our spring semester. I was front row and fire red with anger. The topic of the day?
I was angry at the majority of the class, mostly boys, for being pro-choice. I remember turning around in a rage of fire that we, as a country, would allow such a despicable act — killing an unborn child. “Those women were irresponsible and should pay the price,” I said.
Ten months later, I found myself sitting in the waiting area of an abortion clinic — eating crow.
I have always defined myself as a conservative. I am religious; I believe in God, believe in the Bible, and one day I believe that we will go on to heaven or hell. I’m from the Bible Belt and we are — generally speaking — raised to be conservative from birth. Going against the grain is not seen as a viable option, lest we catch the strong, harsh judgement of our elders.
But over the summer, as I watched the DNC, my eyes were opened. I’ve followed the conventions. I’ve watched the consistent smear campaigns on both sides, trying to pick out the facts as they pertained to me, and my life.
Hillary made history, no doubt. But it is funny that her speech, as historic as it was, did not stand out in my mind.
Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America — her speech stood out. It left me, well, speechless.
Like Hogue, I dreamed of having a family as a child, but at 16 the timing was definitely not right. I was due to deliver a month before beginning my senior year and was not in a situation where I could support or provide a stable life to a child. He wasn’t ready to support or raise a child either. I wanted to graduate high school, go to college, and figure out what I wanted out of life.
I knew having a child at 17 was not only a burden on me, but also my entire family, and his family too. We would suddenly be relying on them for assistance both emotionally and financially, not to mention childcare. Many girls have given birth at 17 (and younger) and have managed to accomplish all of their goals while parenting their child, but it was not the life for me.
In hindsight, I should have asked my mom for birth control. I know that now. She had asked me many times before, but I denied that it was needed — out of embarrassment. My mom never would have shamed me, but I still denied it.
Our school did not provide assistance to planned parenthood. I was too ashamed to ask my mother for birth control to prevent my unintended pregnancy, but I am forever thankful she was there, open-minded and supportive, when I needed her help. She held my hand throughout the day because, in the end, I was still her baby and I needed her.
Hogue gave me hope. She empowered me. Women do not have to stand alone, or in silence, as they make a very hard, oftentimes emotional, decision because society sees fit to shame them if they are open about it. One in three women have an abortion before 45, but we’re not allowed to talk about it? Having an abortion these days is the equivalent to having a scarlet “A” outlined on our clothing.
December 2 comes every year, and every year I think back to my abortion. I think how different my life — and my ex-boyfriend’s life — would have been and I’m satisfied with my choice. I would not have my son. I probably would not have had the opportunity to be a surrogate. I am happy with the life I have now. I don’t know that I could say the same if I had a 10-year-old in tow.
Can you imagine what would happen if abortions were banned in our country? Women of all ages would be left with no other option than to deliver, and either keep their child or place them for adoption. Nobody should be forced to birth a child, and adoption is certainly not pushing the “easy” button by any stretch.
Did you know that a child enters the foster care system every two minutes? Every two minutes. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) reported that in the end of fiscal year 2014, there were 107,918 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, not to mention the 415,129 in foster care, in general. Of those children who were in foster care in 2014, only 50,644 were actually adopted. Of course, throughout the year, some children are released back to their families or they age out of the system, but kids moving in while others move out is a constant. Can you fathom these numbers if people were forced to give birth?
Even worse, mothers would be forced to deliver their child who has a terminally fatal prognosis, instead of having a choice to end that child’s pain and suffering. Medically inducing death or watching your child suffer the short time they have on earth — both are heartbreaking options. Thank God that as of right now, those families can choose what is best for them.
And don’t even get me started on the number of women who would become ill with infections, and possibly die, if they were forced to resort to those back alley abortions that we’ve all heard about.
I am tired of hiding what I went through because I am a Christian. I am tired of hiding what I did because I am a Republican. I am tired of hiding, period. My political views have been changed this week — from a 4 minute and 8 second speech in a non-prime time spot at the DNC. For the first time, I am not ashamed.
Hillary being nominated is just the first glass ceiling to be broken. With Hillary’s support, Hogue can help shatter more glass. We have the right to decide what we do, or do not, carry in our uterus. I do not want anyone to carry around what I have been holding onto for the last 11 years:
Fear. Shame. Embarrassment. Resentment. Depression. Failure.
But more than that — this is bigger than just me — I do not ever want to see these options taken away from girls in situations like mine or the women I mentioned above.