Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Abortion is more common than folks realize. In a time where reproductive rights are being challenged and stripped across the country, we must do all we can to destroy the stigma against this common health procedure.
In an October 2017 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, researchers showed that despite its decline in procedures, that one in every four women will have an abortion in their lifetime. And as of 4:45 this past Tuesday afternoon, I'm now a one in the "1 in 4".
How I got here is pretty mundane: I had an unprotected sexual encounter with a recent sexual acquaintance, I underestimated the length of my "fertility window", and after four days of menstrual symptoms but no menstrual period, I went to a Planned Parenthood center the next day for a pregnancy test. After getting my suspicions confirmed via a positive urine test, I made an appointment to come back and facilitate a medication abortion via the pill.
Finding out I was pregnant was a surreal experience, to be sure. I can't speak on how it's been or how it is for other folks who can get pregnant, but I was neither ecstatic nor devastated. More so, I was basically feeling, "Holy shit, I was right…."
I CAN say I'm actually pretty chill with my current circumstances than I know I'd be if this happened when I was in my 20s. I was far from the feminist I am today back then, and I know that had this happened to me back then, I'd be a wreck of sex-negativity: blaming and shaming myself for getting pregnant, for failing to live up to being a "semi-good girl" and not practicing "safe sex", and driving myself nuts at the litany of potential consequentialist judgments from family, friends, and society. Now, as a 38-yr-old sex-positive feminist who sees such judgments for what they are, I have practically zero negative baggage on my shoulders about my current situation, and I'm able to navigate things much clearer.
This doesn't mean I didn't have concerns or fears; this is a significant "first" in my life, naturally, I was nervous about undergoing the procedure. I also suffer from anxiety, so my mind was rife with what-if-things-go-wrong scenarios days leading up to my appointment, scaring myself to the point of tears at one point thinking about the worst that could happen. And on the day of, my sonogram and subsequent blood and urine tests did little to quell my nervousness. Apparently, the embryo couldn't be found because there was no gestational sac. The nurse practitioner said it's more than likely because the pregnancy was found very early, and the other tests still confirmed I was pregnant, so that was reassuring. I took the first medicine, Mifepristone, in the practitioner's presence. Mifepristone blocks the flow of progesterone to the fertilized embryo, terminating the pregnancy. The nurse gave me the other medicine, Misoprostol, to take at home later that night. Misoprostol is taken orally or vaginally about 6 hours after taking Mifepristone to induce uterine cramps to empty the uterus.
After taking both medications, I spent most of Wednesday in bed, only getting up to use the bathroom to make sure I was emptying at a normal pace, and drink fluids; had I been bleeding too much in too short a time, I might've had to go to a hospital. Pain meds definitely helped halve the cramping pain, though there were some that were....not so fun, to say the least. What was also not so fun was, uhm, seeing some of the "contents" coming out of me, though thankfully, it wasn't the size of a lemon or an orange, or I would've definitely let out more than the slight "WTF" I yelped.
I think what surprised me the most about this experience was the amount of vulnerability I felt. I had no guilty feeling for choosing abortion and I still don't; abortion is part of reproductive healthcare, and thankfully I live in a city and state where that's recognized. Rather, I felt utterly alone while going through this at home, mainly because I had asked an aforementioned acquaintance to come by and sit with me, check on me and ensure I was okay, and they never showed up. I had just wanted a presence, a source of empathy during a trying time, only to have been dismissed and left to feel everything I was feeling alone. It makes me sad and angry how there are many men out there unable to show a drop of compassion to women as a human being without strings, without selfishness, just because. But fortunately, I was accompanied to the PPNYC clinic by a great friend of mine; she asked me if I'd need someone to go to the appointment with me, I didn't have to ask, and I didn't know how much I needed that until the day of.
I share my own experience in an effort to normalize abortion as a procedure that's part of reproductive healthcare. A grave mistake establishment Democrats have made for decades is advocating for abortion under being "safe, legal, and rare" in the face of evidence showing how common abortion procedures actually are. We cannot continue to tiptoe around abortion and ceding ground to the false argument of abortion being murder from anti-abortion activists, organizations, and politicians. We must normalize abortion, as well as the teaching of factual sex education, to continue shifting our culture away from sex-negativity for the intellectual, physical, and emotional health of all.