Judith | East Tennessee


I want the same rights the Religious Right has to make my own decisions.
I was 19, in New York, and had just started my second year of college when I found out that I was pregnant. I wasn’t using any kind of birth control; I wasn’t planning on this. I went to a regular ob/gyn and he did give me some pills at that time, something to help abort, but nothing happened, so I wound up going to Planned Parenthood. This was in 1972, so abortions were legal in New York.
I found out what I needed to do and what it was going to cost, but I didn’t have the money, so I had to wait until my birthday to use my birthday money. Between that and my boyfriend and my best girlfriend, we came up with the money, but not enough for me to have any anesthesia during any of this. So I had to have the procedure without anesthesia.
I couldn’t tell my parents. My parents were staunch Catholics. They were the type that: of course you would never think of having sex or living with anyone. They didn’t want me to get my ears pierced because it wasn’t considered appropriate. Twenty years later when I got divorced, they didn’t want anybody to know about it, they wanted me to lie because they were embarrassed. So I knew that this was not something I could ever divulge to them.
I had the abortion but I don’t remember a lot about it. I remember squeezing the tech’s hand because it was so painful, and I remember being in the recovery room, and looking around and talking to some of the other girls. There was not one person from New York. There was somebody from Virginia, somebody from the mid-west, but not another soul from New York.
I never regretted it. I didn’t have any kind of depression. I was so adamant that abortion was my only option, and that it was the option I wanted. Over the years I might have thought, gee, I would have a 30-year-old child, but I never wanted children for multiple reasons. So it was a comfort to me, something I never looked back on, never second-guessed myself. I just remember going back to school and my daily life. It was a relief. I was counseled at Planned Parenthood and received my birth control pills and that was the end of it for me.
I remember also being amazed that it wasn’t legal nationwide at the time. But I never followed the issue, never was active. I never divulged it to any friends because it never came up. My husband knows about it. My closest friends know, but it was not something from the past that I felt needed to be shared. I do now. The repercussions are enormous. I look at Texas and everything that’s being done to make abortion difficult, especially for the people who can afford it the least. And what they are dong to physicians, making them read that horrible false statement about what can happen or the repercussions if you go through with this. They are infringing on my rights.I want the same rights the Religious Right has to make my own decisions. That’s the way I see it now. If we are a country with separation of church and state, then don’t put your religious beliefs on me. You do what you want; I’m going to do what I want. As long as it’s legal there should be no wall between what I decide to do or what my physician recommends. There’s no other medical procedure that requires this type of scrutiny. Nobody tells a man he can’t have vasectomy. Nothing else has the restrictions and the stigma that a legal abortion has. I just can’t imagine what I would have done without mine.

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