It was 1996 when I had an abortion. I was married, with two children under the age of 8. A life that had started with such hope and promise turned dark and ugly with a series of job losses, a serious car accident, and a mountain of bills. My husband became someone I didn’t know, a cruel, abusive, alcoholic. Late one night my husband came home drunk looking for a fight. I was in bed pretending to be asleep when he grabbed me, tore my pajamas off and violently raped me. I went to my doctor’s the next morning to be treated for my injuries but while the morning after pill was frequently in the news at that time, it wasn’t yet available. Six weeks later, my doctor confirmed my worst fear, I was pregnant. Right then I knew I had to take my children and leave my husband even though it was unlikely that I receive any support from him. I just didn’t know how I could manage my escape with a third child on the way. The doctor who had treated me for my injuries was very kind and non-judgmental. He gave me a referral to the closest abortion clinic, which was two hours away. On the day of my appointment, I walked 2 miles to the train station, then took the bus, with two transfers along the way, to arrive at the clinic for my appointment. There were protesters at the clinic shouting all sorts of vile things at me, but I knew what they did not; that having that child would have made my escape impossible, and my children deserved better than a life of abuse. Two weeks after the procedure, I left my husband with $20 in my pocket and my children in hand. I obtained a restraining order, initiated divorce proceedings and began the painful process of rebuilding my life. And despite several court orders, I have never been successful in collecting one dime of child support, but that’s ok. My ex has long since disappeared. His children haven’t heard from him in 15 years, but we survived and surprisingly enough, we thrived. To have an abortion was easily the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. I’ve only told very few people about it. Those I have told cannot understand what I mean when I say that I regret having to make the decision to abort my child but I do not regret the decision I made. Lawmakers need to listen to the stories of women who have chosen to have an abortion. We do not make this decision lightly or for the sake of convenience. Women have the right to make reproductive decisions that affect our lives and our families, without the interference of the government. In today’s political arena, women’s rights are under vicious attack. Restrictions on abortions, restrictions on contraceptive coverage, funding cuts for assistance programs, gender based wage differential. Our mothers and grandmothers, and women before them, fought hard for equal rights, some even died. To allow one right to be revoked is a disservice to the memories of those who came before us. It sets a dangerous precedence.
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