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On June 7, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed new abortion legislation that was set to go into effect on September 1, 2021. The new law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is well before many women even know they are pregnant. The law also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Both Lyft and Uber have stated that they will pay drivers' legal fees if their drivers are sued. Private citizens who bring these suits don't need to show any connection to those they are suing. The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.
This law is different from past laws because it does not require public officials to enforce the law, but rather allows individuals. Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000. And to prepare for that, Texas Right to Life has set up what it calls a "whistleblower" website where people can submit anonymous tips about anyone they believe to be violating the law. There is widespread anger surrounding this bill, and for good reason. Legislating women's bodies is a tale as old as time. It is intrusive, Orwellian, misogynistic, and a severe overreach of government, coming from the party that purports to want less government.
The real women who seek abortions have been lost in all of this. I wanted to know why some women might choose to abort their child and the circumstances surrounding their decisions. Each woman and pregnancy is unique, which makes regulating pregnancy an impossibility. Abortion is a women's health issue, not a political matter. I hope to shed some light on the importance of reproductive care for women everywhere. Thank you to everyone who shared their story. (Names have been withheld to protect identity).
#1. My 14-year-old daughter is mentally disabled. She snuck a boy (who is also mentally disabled) in our home in the hour between my husband leaving for work and me arriving. She is rarely unsupervised. When I got home, I caught them in bed, and sent the boy home. I tried to explain sex to my daughter, but she doesn't have the mental capacity to know our address by heart, much less understand sex. I brought her to the clinic for birth control as early as I could. I didn't know if my daughter had had penetrative sex so I hadn't bought plan B. Weeks later, she missed her cycle and we found out she was pregnant. I paid $450 for the abortion pill, and it was beyond a shadow of a doubt the best decision for my daughter, my family, and society as a whole.
#2. I'm 39 years old and have an 18 month old daughter. I recently terminated my second pregnancy because I'd had so many problems and health issues with my first. I was in labor with my daughter for 26 hours and lost a lot of blood. It was physically very difficult and traumatizing. I doubted I'd be able to get pregnant again. My partner is pretty distant and our relationship is strained, so I didn't want to bring another child into the mix. We're currently in marriage counseling, so hopefully that helps. Aside from my health issues, finances are tight, we don't have much familial support, and COVID has taken a toll on my mental health as well as the health of my husband. Another child would have been debilitating. I had to travel four hours each direction for my first appointment, then go back the following week for the procedure. Some of the closer clinics were booked a month out. It's insane that I had to travel so far. Nobody talks about the critical lack of access in some parts of the country. I'm lucky I was able to access care; I know others aren't as blessed. #3. I was 20 years old when it happened. I wasn't on birth control because I was convinced it was making me gain weight. I was relying on the pullout method for probably around a year, but it only takes one time. I found out I was pregnant at almost 6 weeks. I didn't know where to start so I made an appointment with a doctor at the clinic where I had previously received my birth control. They got me in the following week. They explained my options and then I was able to get an appointment a week later for the actual procedure at a different clinic about an hour away. I was 8 weeks at the time of the abortion. The tech who was giving me an ultrasound before my procedure explained that the small collection of cells looks nothing like a baby. I get so mad when pro life propaganda depicts an 8 week old fetus looking like a full grown baby.
It was not a fun experience by any means, and I don' t think people talk about that enough. Pro life people will talk about how terrible it is to deter people from getting them, but I think the pro choice side should talk about it too. Its a painful, invasive, unpleasant experience, but its still easier than raising a child when you have no resources. Pro choice doesn't mean we are saying abortions are the best and everyone should get them without thinking. Its a hard choice, but it was the right choice for me. Every once in a while I do the math and it feels weird to think about. I would have just celebrated my kid's 7th birthday, but I have no regrets. When I first took the pregnancy test, I did not even think about abortion. I didn't realize that abortion was something that could be accessible to me; I didn't even know if it was legal.
When I went for the consultation they gave me a sad looking tri fold pamphlet about abortion. On the back it had a list of clinics and doctors that offered abortions. The lady put a star next to one and said that it was very private, in a high rise building, and that there would be no protestors. I was a college student who could barely pay rent so I called all the clinics to ask how much an abortion cost. Yes, I shopped around for my abortion. The place the lady recommended was $700. Some other private places were between $550 and $600. Planned parenthood was $427. This was still going to be a lot for me to pay, even though my partner and I were going to split it. At the bottom of the pamphlet was a little blurb that said "For Financial Help Call: The Options Fund" and it gave the number. I didn't think it would actually work, but I called and they said they would give me $250 toward my abortion. I was so fucking grateful. I've always been meaning to donate to them and now I finally can.
#4. Besides being really disappointed in myself for being careless, getting an abortion was the best decision I've ever made. I'm really lucky that my family was supportive of my decision. My mom didn't even ask if I wanted to keep it. My boyfriend at the time was not very supportive, and we were both young. There was absolutely no way I could have raised a child. I don't regret it, but I do wish I had been smarter. My insurance paid for the procedure, and after it was done, I went outside and there were people protesting and holding signs. No woman wants to be put in that situation. I had to decide whether to keep it or terminate it pretty quickly; time isn't exactly on your side. I was six or seven weeks at the time of the abortion. My ex now has two kids.
P.S. The National Abortion Federation is the largest multi-lingual, toll-free hotline for abortion referrals and financial assistance in the U.S. and Canada. The National Network of Abortion Funds is a similar resource. Find free contraceptive care here, or read about a new male birth control pill here.