Maria | West Tennessee


I was sixteen and in love, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. I got pregnant and didn’t tell anyone, except a few close friends. I called my aunt and uncle, who I was very close to, and they gave me three days to tell my parents. By this time I was about four and half months pregnant. My parents called his parents, and there was a big sit-down meeting. We weren’t allowed to see each other, though.
I was very sick with Grave’s disease. I don’t know everything my parents went through, but I know they jumped through some hoops because I went to a special hospital. The decision to have an abortion was virtually made for me. I was going to die.
It was a two-day procedure, on my 17th birthday. The nurses sang happy birthday, and sometime during the two-day procedure, I found out it was a boy. I was told nothing about the procedure, how or when it would happen. It was the most awkward, embarrassing, frustrating, sad, emotionally devastating thing I’ve ever been through. I had no therapy or counseling. Three months later, I tried to kill myself and was institutionalized for a year. It was a kind and beautiful place that saved my life and helped me come to terms with my abortion.
Looking back, even if I wasn’t sick, I hope the same thing would have happened. My life would have been so different; I could not imagine having a child before the age of 35, when I had my daughter.
That was my first abortion.
I had thyroid surgery, and suddenly, I was down to a cute weight. I felt cute for the first time in my life. I got a cute boyfriend, and we got cutely knocked up. I was nineteen years old, which was not cute. He was cute, so I put up with a lot from him. However, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I thought, “I am NOT having this man’s baby.” I had no hesitation or doubt. I was going to get an abortion, and he was going to pay for it. That’s when I went to Planned Parenthood. They could not have been kinder or explained more to me, and it was very early in my pregnancy. It was the absolute opposite of my first abortion experience. I was back to normal the next day.
I don’t regret either of my abortions. I look at where I am now in my life, and I’m finally at a place in my life where I’m comfortable; I like my life. All of this was only possible because I lived in a state where abortion was legal and accessible. However, there is still so much stigma surrounding abortion, and I see that even more now that I live in Tennessee. I am absolutely livid about access to abortion in Tennessee, as well as things going on in Texas regarding fetal tissue disposal. I’m astonished that things are dialing backwards in this country. I don’t know what to do, but people doing this, telling their story, is a start. And it’s not easy to talk about.
I’m very open about my story. Before I decided I was an atheist, I took my daughter to church, and friends there knew I had had abortions. However, these are the people involved in anti-choice organizations that want you to have your baby, but don’t want to give you help after the baby is born.
I have a very close relationship with my daughter. As soon as she is old enough, I will make sure she has access to birth control. I would rather my daughter have an abortion than have the baby and keep it or have the baby and give it up for adoption. I want to protect my daughter’s future. I want to be able to call Planned Parenthood and say, “I need to schedule my daughter for an abortion.” I see how it used to be, just in the 1980s. In the north, if you wanted any kind of procedure on your reproductive organs, you had to go to the health department, sign a log, and anyone could come in the next two weeks and look at that log and object to it. I don’t want that for my daughter.

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