Celebrating 40 Years of Roe v. Wade

At eighteen, I was just through with my first year of college, working and goofing off in the summer, living away from home for the first time.  I was clubbing, drinking, and getting value for every bit of my freedom.  And then the test came back positive.

“Oh, God, what am I going to say? What am I going to do?”

I had never baby-sat, never cooed over babies, never played with little kids at all.  I didn’t like children.  I didn’t WANT children.  And there I was, pregnant and eighteen.  And petrified.

“How could this happen?  WHY did this happen?”

I told one friend, at first.  I learned she had been through an abortion, and that she knew where and how I could get it done.  She offered to help me pay for it.  “It would make the entire problem go away.”

“But then what? Then what?  Could I do this?  Should I do this?”

I hesitated over that a long, long time; long enough to be nearly out of my first trimester.  I told a few other friends.  Their consensus seemed to be “Sucks to be you.”  I didn’t see much of them after a while.

“I can’t do this thing.  I can’t.  But I don’t know how I am going to get through this, either.”

I stayed pregnant.  I stayed reticent.  I still didn’t tell my parents for a while longer; we weren’t on very good terms, and I was certain they would kill me.

“How am I going to explain this?  What are they going to do?”

Necessity drove me to admit it, finally.  And my parents surprised me; they were disappointed, but they flew into action.  Doctor visits. Back massages.  Ultrasounds.  Maternity clothes.  Specialists visits 100 miles away when there seemed to be problems.

“That is a baby, I see it.  I see feet.  I see a head.  That’s… that’s an arm.”

I was anxious at the hospital when I arrived, but nothing prepared me for all the medical personnel assembled when I was in the throes of pushing.  Half the hospital seemed present, from NICU nurses to the anesthesiologist (God bless him) to interns and everyone in between.  And there was my mother, holding my hand, while my father paced the hall.

“I can’t do this!  I can’t!”

And then, my baby, my baby girl, was here; and then she was gone, whisked off to the Neonatal Unit until they could determine she was healthy.  She stayed in the hospital days longer than I did.  But she did come home, and nothing has ever been the same since.  That baby changed the life of my entire family, changed the trajectory of everything.  And she utterly transformed me.

All that to say: I absolutely understand the struggle of a woman who finds herself inconveniently pregnant.  There are so many reasons a woman might consider abortion in the midst of fear, or uncertainty, or doubt, or any of the other emotions that can come with an unplanned pregnancy.

But it’s nothing to celebrate.

And it does women who are struggling with that decision no favors to pretend abortion is a casual, slight medical procedure.  Or that the baby isn’t a baby, but a lump of cells, a mass of unviable tissue.

Or that the solutions are ever simple.