I had an abortion at 19. I was in college, with a bright future, and I was dating a much older man. Neither of us was ready to have a baby. So we didn’t. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the single most life-changing event of my life.
I grew up in an affluent suburb of Albany, NY. The community was well off. We felt entitled. Our parents worked hard and made decent money. We didn’t get into much trouble, beyond that of smoking a little and an occasional party. We felt superior. Back in high school, it was an easy thing to judge a book by it’s cover. We did it almost automatically. If we saw a pregnant teen, she was clearly promiscuous. If we saw a homeless person, it was their fault.
I was also, ironically I realize now, a practicing Catholic, and thought that sex should be saved for marriage. I’m not sure at what point during my freshman year of college that I changed my mind, but I did. I met an amazing guy. He was 6 years older than me, but I was mature for my age, so we had a lot to talk about. We went out on a date, and I remember it as being this incredible evening. We became a couple, and like many couples do in college, we spent every night sleeping next to each other. At that point, I thought we were going to get married. Anyway, despite the birth control that I was on, I ended up pregnant.
Suddenly I was the person that I had been judging and I knew full well that people were judging me. I hated every second it. I hated realizing that I was a hypocrite. I hated having to become a responsible adult and make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. Someone told me that it was my fault. A doctor at my college’s health clinic told me that I couldn’t possibly have been taking my pills correctly, and she thought that I should suffer the consequences. Guess what? Being pregnant is a huge consequence. Having an abortion is a huge consequence. That decision has been with me every single day of my life.
But, instead of making it about me and my pain, I decided that I would never be a hypocrite again. I would help those in need regardless of their situation, without judgment. This is something that being a Catholic should have taught me, but it didn’t. Oh sure, I had done service work when I was younger, but it never mattered so much to me. It took having an abortion to make me see that life isn’t simple. Black and white don’t exist in situations. People struggle to survive each and every day, and who am I to make their lives harder by applying my judgment to them?
Having an abortion made me compassionate. It made me more caring. It made me patient and kind. I gave me motivation to help others in a meaningful way. It will make me a better parent, when I eventually do become one. And, while it’s easy to wish that it had never happened, I wouldn’t trade who I am today for anything.