When I was 17 years old in 1982, I became pregnant, literally the first time my boyfriend and I were intimate. My partner was not interested in taking any co-responsibility for the pregnancy and I …
When I was 17 years old in 1982, I became pregnant, literally the first time my boyfriend and I were intimate. My partner was not interested in taking any co-responsibility for the pregnancy and I also was aware that I would not receive assistance from my immediate family. I made the decision to have an abortion not because of the reasons stated above, but rather because becoming a teenaged parent was, for me personally, something I most definitively and deeply did not want.
For that first week after I missed my period back in 1982, I waited anxiously each day for it to come and when it did not, arranged to go to get a pregnancy test at a clinic that was, very thankfully, just a few towns away. By the time I got the appointment, I was already in my sixth week of pregnancy, which, under the new Texas law, would already be the cut-off point for having a legal abortion. In reality, it then took me several more weeks to get an appointment for the procedure and to figure out how I would cobble together the money I needed and also secure the necessary transportation.
Crazy as it seems, 39 years after I had the option to make the choice I did in 1982, women in Texas are now being forced to have pregnancies they do not want, even in the event of rape and incest. I do hope that those who support this new law also support paid parental leave, childcare credits and assistance, food assistance, early childhood education assistance, distribution of birth control and sex ed for teens. Otherwise it could be construed that these individuals are concerned only with the unborn and have no interest in ensuring the actual health and well-being of children post-birth or in preventing future unwanted pregnancies.
I am largely vegetarian now, drive slowly to avoid hitting wildlife and rescue bugs I find in the house by taking them outside and setting them free. Although it might seem a contradiction based on these points, if I were to go back in time and have a chance to re-choose my path, I would most definitively again choose the one I did in 1982. The main reason is because I got to live the life I chose. I went to university, lived and traveled overseas, had an extremely satisfying and meaningful career, got married and built a family via the way my husband and I wanted to, which was by adoption. The other reason I would make the same choice is because I fervently believe that it is my body and therefore my choice to make, not the government’s. Do you think this sounds selfish? If so, by analogy, do you believe the the government should legally be allowed to force you into a monumental event that would change the trajectory of your life, such as requiring you to donate a half a lung to someone on the grounds that they’d die without it? Or maybe forcing you to donate $233,610 (the estimated cost to raise one child according to the USDA, not including the cost of a college education) when you can’t or don’t want to? Are you selfish if you say “No, this is not OK”? I don’t believe you are. Similarly, I don’t think the government has the right to commandeer my womb for nine months and to determine my future.
All of the above does not mean that I believe deciding to have an abortion is something that should be just taken lightly. I do not. But a right to abortion is most necessary, and, at this point still thankfully, a women’s constitutional right.
I am profoundly grateful to have been able to make my choice and I am deeply fearful for my daughters and other women who, if a minority American contingent have their way, will have their wombs consigned to the state to make their most personal healthcare decision for them.
[Trish Lounsbury is a resident of Beach Lake, PA.]
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