Brandi | East Tennessee

My name is Brandi, I come from a small little town in Virginia. I was raised like so many other small town girls not really knowing much about sex, other than the actual act of course, we didn’t really discuss birth control and the word abortion was as dirty as the coal dirt that covered everything. I had been told the possibility of children wasn’t likely due to a medical issue when I was younger so I never took birth control seriously or on a regular basis. So many of us grow up in different circumstances and belief systems it’s hard to fathom someone being so ignorant, but I was and so are many others. See, even though it wasn’t discussed at the dinner table or during late night talks so many of us have now with our children, we are curious creatures so as little children we played Dr or the famous truth or dare game, and that was our sex ed. I was a victim of molestation most of my life, since the age before I could even start making memories and I learned to be promiscuous in hopes of finding love one day. I had sex with so many partners by the time I was 15 I lost count. By 16 I was pregnant and I honestly didn’t know who the father was, but I had a boyfriend who was, what I thought, the love of my life and being the ignorant child I was I thought “hey this is perfect I’ll have him forever” so when my own mother asked about my choice I was livid. “I’m a grown woman” I said “I made my bed I’ll lie in it” and I meant every word, at that moment. I don’t regret my choice that day, I love my son who is 20 today but it wasn’t an easy road. I had been honest with my future husband about him not likely being the father but he gave him his name and has always been his father but, that wasn’t the issue. We would fight physically with one another, we was horrible parents to say the least my son has suffered deeply because of the mistakes we’ve made, we turned into alcoholics and would do any drug we could get our hands on. We would split up and get back together, all the rotten things horrible parents do. That baby boy didn’t deserve to have us as his parents but, thankfully we both had decent parents that stepped in and basically raised him for many years. During this time of course I was sleeping around, not being a responsible human being not to mention parent so when I discovered I was once again pregnant and didn’t have a clue who the father was, I had to face that choice again. I would hold my son and think about how screwed up his life was already, I knew I was weak and even though I wanted to change I still knew I wouldn’t. I was deep in the world of drugs, I didn’t love myself, I thought I didn’t love my first son enough to change so I would likely put another child through the same hell. Was I being selfish? Hell yes I was that’s what an addict is best at being. So I told my parents, who were extremely disappointed in me, again, they swore they wouldn’t raise another, I couldn’t blame them because they was getting older and this was my responsibility. My mom was my support though, she understood my decision and helped me through it all. I was 7 weeks pregnant when I made the 9 hour journey to Charlottesville, VA. My mom has anxiety so my dad and uncle drove me, it was the longest and quietest drive of my life. We reached the clinic, my dad slipped me the $500 and left me to walk around the block to the actual center alone, I was 19. I walked past protesters screaming “baby killer” all the propaganda they love to scream but I knew I didn’t want another child to be born only to live like my other son had so I held my head down and walked the walk alone, like so many others. The staff saw my broken soul and welcomed me in with open arms and shoulders to cry on. They gave us all 1 valium to calm ourselves after they explained what was going to happen and gave us all a chance to change our minds. I walked into the room and 2 nurses held my hand and talked me through the procedure, keeping me calm and making me feel like I wasn’t such a piece of trash. My dad picks me up and I sleep the whole way back again it’s very quiet in the car, neither asked how I was they just looked broken hearted at me and I guess they just didn’t know what to say or how to and that’s ok. I arrived home late and laid down for the evening, I tried telling myself I would feel better tomorrow and I did. I knew I made the right choice for my situation, putting another child into that mess was more cruel than ending the pregnancy in my opinion. I needed a follow up appt to make sure everything was ok but I wasn’t able to get that appt because in the small town I was living no Dr. would do follow up abortion care, it was against their policy or whatever excuse they made and I wasn’t able to afford another long trip so I had to cross my fingers and hope I was ok and I was. You see, mine isn’t the only story like this and I’m not special by any meaning of the word but I can say this, drugs hit my small town like so many others and because abortion is so stigmatized in that town many don’t see it as an option. There’s so many children living with grandparents, wondering why their mom or dad doesn’t love them, wondering if they are even alive and many more children whose parents are dead from overdose. Hundreds get thrown into abusive foster homes or sent to live with other relatives who get left to pick up the pieces. My story isn’t only about abortion but the effects of the opioid epidemic as well. Babies are being born with horrific deformities because of addiction and the stigma of abortion. Communities are left with the responsibility of caring for these children and they don’t want these children, they only want you not to abort. We have generations of children that are continuing the cycle, it will never end all because someone wants to tell us that our choices aren’t choices anymore or make it so difficult you have no real choice. They care so much about that child while it’s inside of you, but wash their hands after it’s born and it’s wrong! They aren’t trying to save babies they are trying to keep us in this cycle and control our bodies. I know this is long but if you made it this far just know that no matter what the reason is it’s still your decision. It’s our bodies, we have a right to decide what we do or don’t do with it.

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