On Sept. 29, 2015, The Stony Brook Independent chose to publish an opinions piece titled “A Counter Perspective To The Pro-Planned Parenthood Argument.” On Sept. 30, 2015, the piece was brought to my attention, and I lost all respect for The Independent and its ability to make sound and ethically-based journalistic judgments.
I have been Copy Chief of The Statesman for nearly a year and a half. I like to think that I have–by virtue of spending nearly every waking moment in that basement office with journalistically-inclined peers as day turns to night (and most of the time, back into day again)–gained for myself a solid sense of what ethical journalism is, and certainly what it is not.
I initially planned to systematically dismantle every claim made in the piece. I planned to rip apart its use of sources that were anything but objective and the wild leaps of logic that somehow equated Nazi Germany to a veritable haven for women when it comes to convenient and affordable health care. I was particularly mortified by The Independent’s choice to publish a piece that includes “facts” and “statistics” that, with less than a minute of research, one could easily discredit. I wanted to use this article to deliver the clinical truth.
But I am much bigger than that. I offer a perspective on this issue—a raw, emotional truth—that the author never made any effort to include. And I have a voice that refuses to be silenced by shame any longer.
I am a woman who is standing up and saying “I had an abortion, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
I found out I was pregnant in November of 2010, and I can’t even say that that was my lowest moment. That was the year that my parents announced to their three wide-eyed daughters that they would be divorcing. That was the year that we lost the home that my mother herself had grown up in and had to find a new one. That was the year that I was still so broken on the inside that I dealt with my issues by hurting myself on the outside.
I’ll be the first to admit that at 16, I was a complete and utter mess, disenchanted with the world around me and realizing that I was not as invincible as I thought I was.
And then there was the universe seemingly punishing me again for one stupid mistake.
To make matters worse, my partner and I were anything but stable. Middle-to-high school sweethearts, we were the couple that everyone joked would one day get married. When we failed to meet those expectations, we grew to resent one another so deeply that every day was like walking on eggshells.
So when I sat down at my kitchen table with my mother and my partner to discuss my options, I felt like I was in control for the first time when I said “I think I want to keep it.”
Like I said, 16-year-old me wasn’t exactly the most logical.
I was fortunate enough to have had (and still have) a family that supports damn near everything I do, but one that would call me out if the decisions I had made were not the best. And though I’ll never admit it to her face, my mother is the smartest woman I have ever met, and her opinion has never steered me wrong. When she questioned my resignation to carry this baby and keep it, I couldn’t lie; as sick as it was, my 16-year-old self viewed this baby as my ticket to the security I craved. This baby would be the glue that bonded my partner and I together, and there was no way we would end up like my parents.
At 21, I realize how utterly wrong this mindset was. At 16, I was a ball of myopic emotion.
In December of 2010, I walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic and had a surgical abortion. I’d be lying if I said that that day has ever left me; when you are forced to see what was ultimately the product of you and the person you thought you were going to be with forever coming together on a grainy black and white sonogram picture, the decision to depart with that creation growing inside you is made infinitely more difficult.
But I’d also be lying if I said I would change anything about my experience. Nearly five years after my abortion, I am happier than I have ever been. I conquered my depression and my self-harming tendencies. I graduated high school in the top 10 percent of my class, got into Stony Brook as a University Scholar and discovered what I am meant to do with my life. And, none of that would have ever been possible if I had followed my selfish and desperate teenage desires. My baby would have been born to parents that were far from ready to raise it and that were held together only by shared biological obligation.
I can think of nothing more selfish than forcing my baby to endure that.
I write this article with a multitude of expectations. I expect to receive a lot of criticism for admitting that I had an abortion, and even more for admitting that I regret absolutely nothing about what I chose to do. I expect that I may lose friends. I’m sure that I will walk around campus for the next few weeks with a sense of apprehension, wondering if anyone knows what was, up until this point, my biggest secret. But above all that, I have one hope: that someone out there reads this article and is able to find comfort in it. By the age of 20, one in 10 women will have had an abortion. It’s about damn time we started talking about it.