As long as I can remember I have been staunchly pro-choice. And so when a broken condom led to an unwanted pregnancy, having an abortion was a no brainer for me.
I was young and single, a student who practiced safe sex and believed in a woman’s right to choose. When my period was late and my pregnancy test turned up positive, I immediately called my doctor and scheduled a D&C.
My mother drove me to the health clinic. When we arrived, anti-choice protesters hurled abuse at us before a nurse led us through the doors. A sonogram confirmed I was about five weeks pregnant. I looked at the image and saw a circle about the size of a pencil dot. I was given a local anesthetic and some nitrous oxide and, within minutes, the procedure was over. An hour or so later I was discharged.
For the next 15 years the only lasting side effect was a fear of broken condoms. I did not regret my abortion in any way. I was knowingly pregnant for about a week before terminating. There was no lamenting a lost life because, for me, what was removed from my body was not a baby.
After having two healthy children I became pregnant again. I experienced hormonal shifts, mood swings and nausea as it progressed. Muscle memory had my belly swelling sooner than ever and I was in maternity clothes long before the end of the first trimester. I heard the fetal heartbeat and was well on my way to being a mother of three – until my 12-week ultrasound revealed that my baby had died.
Because I had technically entered my second trimester, a D&E was scheduled for the following day. That evening, my shower looked like a scene from a horror film as I passed enormous clots of blood. It was terrifying. While I was saddened about the end of my pregnancy, at this point I wanted to have the procedure done as soon as possible. I was losing tremendous amounts of blood and was unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time.
We headed down to the hospital and I was immediately admitted. I was put under general anesthetic and monitored for several hours afterwards. I was discharged later that night. This time, there were no protesters waiting for us.
When I miscarried, I was devastated: physically and emotionally. A pregnancy had been naturally stopped in its tracks without any clear reason. While I mourned the loss of my potential baby, I knew when my body had healed and the time was right we would try to conceive again. About a year later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. My family and I celebrated his life and our love for him, never wondering who would’ve arrived instead had that miscarriage not occurred.
I never for a split second compared my much-wanted pregnancies to the first time, when I felt like I was pregnant in name only. Nor did I see this as some “divine retribution.” The difference between miscarriage and abortion is choice. I chose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Miscarriage, by its very definition, is a spontaneous abortion. It was science, pure and simple. If I had to do it all over again, nothing would change, except for the miscarriage – because in that case, I had no choice.