The Choice I Wish I Didn’t Have: The Abortion Scar I’ll Always Carry With Me
When I was in college, I chose to have an abortion. I have regretted that decision ever since. Abortion should not be so accessible.
This Narrative Belongs To:
A woman has a right to decide. That’s the typical argument of a pro-choice person. This is also what I repeatedly told myself when I made that choice. A choice I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I felt relieved because thousands of women would no longer subject themselves to a traumatizing experience that I still regret to this day. Despite that relief, I felt alone, as most women in my community, including close friends and family members, rallied together to speak out against the Supreme Court’s decision. “My body, my choice” posts and hashtags were posted in feed after feed, and I couldn’t help but wonder if those individuals have had to make that choice themselves or understood the negative repercussions it could have.
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I Chose to Get an Abortion Out of Fear for My Future
I made that choice nine years ago. Although I try to bury it, the procedure is as clear to me as if it happened yesterday. As much as I wanted to have a child and start a family, at that time, I didn’t feel like I was ready for several reasons. I was 23 and in college, just a semester short of completing my undergrad. I was afraid that a child would hold me back and that others would judge me for it. Looking back now, trying to make sense of that decision, I realize that there was always a negative stigma built around children being such a burden to women; as I saw it then, women could not be successful if they had a child.
I made that decision mainly out of fear. I was raised in a traditional Filipino Catholic home with a strict mother. I thought that if I kept the baby, there would be pressure for the baby’s father and me to get married, and I feared that I’d have to give up on pursuing my undergrad. I questioned my future and the likelihood of disappointing my family. I’m a nonpracticing Catholic with a firm belief in science and logic. I believed in God, but that did not mean that life did not have gray areas. Because the abortion was a procedure legally available to me, and one that could be kept a secret, I ultimately carried through with it.
When I arrived at the clinic, I tried not to think about how I felt or what consequences I’d face. I focused on how I’d be in and out, back to living my everyday life soon as if nothing had happened. I repeatedly told myself this to keep from changing my mind because I was deeply conflicted. During the procedure, I wanted to find every reason to say that I didn’t want to go through with it, but I remained silent.
The doctor informed me that I’d be awake but groggy during this procedure and that the anesthesia would take several minutes to take effect. I heard the device switch on, which sounded like a vacuum with loud suction—a noise that reminded me of being terrified by a vacuum when I was a little girl, running away from my mother as she plowed through the carpeted floor. I always thought that the vacuum was a monster, ready to suck the life out of me. Ironically, as an adult, I was the monster allowing a vacuum to end the life of my unborn child.
The procedure began. I felt the pressure, and then I felt the suction. I held my breath as I felt the doctor maneuver the thin tube around my canal. I held the nurse’s hand throughout the procedure, my right hand tightly sandwiched between her two hands. I remember painfully looking up at her in tears.
It felt longer than I anticipated, and I wanted it to end. Then, the suction stopped, and the doctor swiftly removed the tube and the clamp simultaneously. I breathed in deeply, letting out a trembling exhale and whimpered. The nurse brought her head closer to mine while still holding my hand and said, “You are no longer pregnant.”
These words still painfully haunt me to this day.
Later, Becoming a Mother Made Me Realize I Didn’t Have to Give Anything Up
I will always live to regret what I did. This has been an unbearable emotional burden to carry, and now being a mother of two boys, I know there was no good reason to justify why I did it. My decision was out of convenience because of what I felt then.
Becoming a mother has shifted my perspective in many ways, notably in ways that could have shaped a different decision back then. My two boys are the best things that have happened to me, and the world did not stop for me because I chose to be a mother—because I did not let it.
The more research I’ve done on this controversial topic, the more I discover that, logically and scientifically, it doesn’t make sense to me to prioritize one life over the other. Although I understand that there are special circumstances that warrant getting an abortion, such as rape, incest and medical conditions that endanger both the mother and baby, I believe the narrative that terminating a pregnancy is a woman’s right regardless of her reasoning is hypocritical and needs to be challenged. There are other ways to support each other as women than to deprive lives.
Similarly, the narrative that an abortion is a common, everyday medical procedure is problematic. It sensationalizes ending the lives of unborn children, and I find it no different from sensationalizing murder and suicide. Supporting these narratives, in my opinion, perpetuates the idea that women don’t have any other choice and they must choose one over the other: a career over a family or their life over another’s.
Having a baby is scary. There are many uncertainties, fears and worries that stem from an undefined future. As much as we try to plan and prepare ourselves, we’ll never know what can happen. But having a baby is also filled with an overwhelming sense of love and hope that we can, in turn, instill in our children.
We hope that they grow up to save the world. We hope that they have better opportunities, better relationships, better chances and better lives than we did because there’s a possibility that things will get better. We choose to have faith that it will. Otherwise, why would we be living? Children give us that hope. They grow to question, wonder and dream—things that we adults have done and should give children the chance to do.
What I Know Now: Abortion Is Not the Only Option
As women, we should ask ourselves if we should let fear and uncertainty dictate denying a life. That very choice would be to deny the possibilities of a better life and a better world. A choice that will continue to perpetuate fear.
As the proverb reminds us, it takes a village to raise a child. As a community, we can all benefit from working together to be proactive rather than be remedial and resort to abortion as a solution. We can be proactive with better policies that support working mothers and fathers. We can choose love. We have the choice to support our community, build stronger foundations to help uplift the difficulties and burdens parents face and raise our children to think beyond themselves as individuals. We have the choice to rally together on this highly controversial subject and choose to prioritize educating our youth about prevention through contraception and the other choices that women have, such as adoption and safe haven laws in certain states.
Everyone has a different experience that shapes their opinion on abortion. Unfortunately, my experience is living with the reality that I chose my life over that of another. Although I don’t think it's right to shame any woman who has made this difficult choice, it’s one that I’m not proud of.