Krista | West Tennessee

“When my period still hadn’t come months later I thought – I can’t be pregnant I’m on the honor roll.”

Right now there is a war on women — their reproductive rights and the doctors who provide abortions. We’ve heard the rhetoric — we’ve heard the hate speech — we’ve seen lawmakers trying to use loopholes to make abortion illegal. But we will not give up the battle to keep abortion safe and legal.

I had an abortion when I was 15-years old. That was 32 years ago. But it was a decision that allows me to be who I am today.

Let me take you back to the time of leg warmers and big hair. It was 1986 — I was 15-years old and pregnant. My boyfriend and I had been using condoms – most of the time. When my period was late I thought it was just stress. When my period still hadn’t come months later I thought – I can’t be pregnant I’m on the honor roll. I waited so long to tell my parents – it was too late to have a first trimester abortion at a clinic less than an hour from my home. So my mother and I traveled across country to Wichita, Kansas – to the Women’s Health Care Services. It was one of the only clinics in the nation at the time performing late term abortions. The clinic was surrounded by a brick and iron fence. That is because this clinic had been firebombed before – and the medical director had been shot before but survived.

When I arrived, there were two protesters standing outside the gate, praying. Inside there were about a dozen of us – a cross section of ages, races and circumstances. Among our group was a 20-something who was so thin you couldn’t tell she was pregnant. There was an older couple who were making a desperate decision. The child she was carrying would suffer the same painful and deadly disease that took their other child’s life a few hours after birth. And a 12-year old girl who didn’t speak English and looked terrified.

The medical director was Doctor George Tiller. During my week long stay, Doctor Tiller and I spoke often. He told me I reminded him of his daughter. I told him I wanted to go to college.

It wasn’t until 2004 when I saw Doctor Tiller again. He was a speaker at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C. I was able to thank him. Thank him for giving me a choice.

In 2009 — Doctor George Tiller was murdered inside his church moments after serving as usher. His killer entered the foyer, put a gun to the doctor’s head and pulled the trigger. I mention this because the anti-choice movement is still dangerous and violent.

I would not be where I am today without Doctor Tiller and his services. I am not alone. Even though Doctor Tiller’s clinic closed with his death, other health centers have worked to help women in need BEFORE they need a late-term abortion.

Because of this dedication, and my own experience, I started volunteering as an escort. My job is simple. I am there to let them know they are not alone, they are supported and they are not judged.

I wouldn’t be here today without Roe v Wade – but it is continuously under attack. We must continue our fight to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Sara Weddington – the attorney who won the Roe v Wade case in front of the U-S Supreme Court said —
“It is time to renew the battle for reproductive rights. We have been outmaneuvered, outspent, outpostured, and outvoted by a group of single-issue activists. It has taken them nearly two decades to turn back the principles of Roe. Let’s make sure it takes us a shorter time to replace protection for reproductive choice.”

The Tennessee Stories Project is sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi. If you have a story to tell, see our Contact Us page.