Molly | East Tennessee
It was funny because I’d just found out that I was pregnant and then had to go on stage in front of a huge room full of people and talk about the importance of abortion funds!
Two days after the 2016 election, I got an IUD at my local Planned Parenthood. I’d had the appointment scheduled before the election, so it wasn’t one of those “run-out-and-get-one-while-you-still-can” things, but I did feel secure knowing I had this usually very reliable form of birth control going into the administration of someone so openly hostile to reproductive rights.
My next period was awful, I had a light period after that, and then the next period didn’t come. I didn’t think I was pregnant. I just thought my cycle was just weird because of the IUD. But then, two hours before I was putting on this big presentation for an Abortion Fund benefit – ironically — I went to the school nurse and told her, something feels weird with my body. I took a pregnancy test, not expecting it to be positive. I remember, I was chatting with the nurse, and everything felt very normal, and then all the blood seemed to drain out of her face, and she said, you’re pregnant. She’d just been humoring me by giving me the pregnancy test because I had an IUD. She’d never seen anyone get pregnant on one before.
I knew immediately I wanted to have an abortion because I was just about to graduate from college, and I just couldn’t have a baby right then, for obvious reasons. I happen to work at my local Planned Parenthood and, because of that, I knew they were supposed to be doing abortions the next Saturday, but I also knew they were going to close the clinic that day because of increased protester activity. Something Mike Pence was doing in DC was inspiring increased coordinated protesting at clinics around the country. There had been some talk about counter protesting, so they ended up deciding not to do abortions that day because of fears about patient safety. That meant I would have had to wait another week to have the abortion. But I was already having some uncomfortable symptoms, and I was really freaked out, and I couldn’t stomach the thought of staying pregnant any longer than I had to.
A friend who worked at a clinic in my hometown happened to be in town for my Abortion Fund Benefit. It was funny because I’d just found out that I was pregnant and then had to go on stage in front of a huge room full of people and talk about the importance of abortion funds! I told my friend what was happening, and she helped schedule an appointment at her clinic a lot sooner, but it meant driving to another state on two different occasions, once at the beginning of the week for my first appointment and then back on Friday for the actual procedure. But I did it. I was 7 weeks and had the option to do the pills but I wanted an in-clinic abortion because I just wanted it to be over with. I wanted to go into the clinic and leave not pregnant.
My mom took me to the clinic for the procedure, and she was wonderful, but it was scary and lonely, and you’re not allowed to have your phone with you or have anyone else come back with you, and you’re just shuffled from room to room with all these other scared, lonely people, and so I was really anxious. When I was finally in the room and on the table, a male doctor happened to be there that day, and he came in. It was documented on my chart that I had all this anxiety and stuff, and I was obviously very anxious there on the table, and it was freezing cold. The doctor came in but didn’t talk to me at all. He just started getting everything ready and then started performing a manual exam on me without warning. I gasped, like a sharp inhale, because it was really surprising. He stopped and scoffed and looked around at everybody in the room, like am I doing anything wrong? Like, what’s the issue here? And then he said something along the lines of if she’s going to be uncooperative, then I’m not going to do it. He left the room without talking to me at all. I was understandably upset, and my friend tried to advocate for me, but he still wouldn’t do it. I even offered to be sedated. I just really, really didn’t want to leave that place pregnant. But he wouldn’t do it. They told me to come back tomorrow when another doctor would be there.
After that I went to the local Planned Parenthood and got my IUD out and the next day went back to the original clinic, but this time I got the pills and did it myself at home. It was a long, drawn out, painful process but it was still better than having to be in that place for any longer. I realize I was really lucky because I had a safe loving place to stay that night. But in that clinic I was talking to people who had come from Kentucky and Georgia and all over the place. Some of them weren’t taking the sedatives because they wanted to be able to drive themselves back to Kentucky that night. What if all this had happened to one of those people and not me? Would they have been totally out of luck?
I still have some very complicated feelings about speaking ill of an abortion provider in the South, but it was an awful experience, and it’s been weird having to sort out those feelings along with feelings around the fact that I was pregnant and now I’m not. I recognize that a lot of the conditions that made this experience so traumatic are because of abortion stigma. It fuels the restrictive laws that caused me to have to travel long distances, and it contributes to clinics being desperate for doctors no matter what the doctors are like.
I’ve gone through somewhat of a grieving process, but I definitely don’t regret having an abortion. It was a loving, life-affirming choice for myself. I’m so grateful that I still get to have my whole life in front of me on my own terms. I’m so grateful for my mom and my partner and my friends who were all really supportive of me. And I’m so grateful for the having access to the Tennessee Stories Project, because reading the stories on this website and listening to the Abortion Diary Podcast have been very helpful to me in processing my own feelings. These narratives are a stark and empowering reminder that I’m not alone.
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