For some, when we become pregnant, it’s a joyous occasion and something desired. For others, due to a variety of reasons, it wasn’t a conscious choice and there’s a desire to end the pregnancy, usually as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. Every person’s experience is different and it’s up to us to decide what it will be. We’re not all mothers, and we’re certainly not hosts (although that didn’t deter me from making jokes about my sweet, little parasite while pregnant — but I can do that because I was the one who was dealing with the almost five months straight of all-day nausea and massive food aversions).
My pregnancy, for all intents and purposes, was a relatively “easy” one. Despite the raging nausea and an end-of-pregnancy bout of Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (trust me, it’s painful), most of my pregnancy was healthy and average. Sure, I was pregnant, but I was also holding down a full-time job while working on my masters. I had hobbies, friends and other things going on in my life. “Pregnant” was just one thing that defined me. To boil down pregnancy as Martin did to being either a “host” or “bearer of child” strips us of every other aspect of our identities, placing all value in our fertility. That’s pretty crappy
The relief that I wasn’t pregnant didn’t feel the way that I had expected. This relief felt different; this relief was wrapped up in guilt. It had been very, very easy for me to plan in my mind what I’d do and how I’d do it if I had an unwanted pregnancy. I would have had my husband’s complete support. All we would have to do would be to operationalize it: make an appointment, take a day off work, get the money and health insurance together to pay for it. I could visualize and execute the steps on how to handle an unhappy surprise.
Moreso than ever before, I was aware of how what I had just gone through — confusing and worrisome as it may have been — was very privileged.
I live in New York City, a state where access to contraception and abortion is some of the best in the country. Elsewhere in America, 87 percent of counties have no abortion provider and in rural areas, that number climbs to 97 percent. But it would have been easy to make appointment for an abortion — or even repeat appointments if I were forced by state law to adhere to a “waiting period” (despite the fact my mind was already made up). I could easily travel there by subway or bus or taxi. There would be certainly anti-abortion protesters outside the more well-known clinics, even in our fairly liberal city, but it wouldn’t be anything like the lying-down-on-the-sidewalk-impeding-the-entrance bullshit that patients and clinic employees have to deal with elsewhere. I can handle being screamed at by strangers about going to hell.
As a white woman, I would not have to think even once about how my decision could be interpreted as a reflection on the population growth of my entire race. A middle-class white woman like me wouldn’t be questioned in quite the same way as to how or why she accidentally got pregnant. It would more than likely be assumed that my “unhappy surprise” was really an accident because, as a white person, I am seen as “responsible.” No one would tell me, if I sought an abortion, that I was participating in racial genocide. My womb is not politicized quite in the same way.
Somehow, I would be able to pay for an abortion — though, like many women, that would have been the biggest hardship for me. But it wouldn’t be too great a hardship, because as a middle-class person, I have access to money (even if it’s not my own). I could figure something out if my health insurance would not cover it.
I could get off work without being penalized or fired; if my bosses somehow found out I’d terminated a pregnancy, they wouldn’t and couldn’t terminate my job just because it didn’t match up with their own “personal values.” As a professional woman, it would mostly be assumed that, if I took a day off work for a “health emergency,” I was telling the truth. My job would be waiting for me when I got back.
If, for whatever reason, my husband couldn’t be around during or afterward, I have siblings I am close to and girl friends who would support me. If I told my mom and dad (because as an adult, they are not required to be notified or give permission for what I do with my womb), I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be happy about it. But I also know they truly love me unconditionally wouldn’t excommunicate me or throw me out of the family. My own spiritual beliefs, and those of the people I’m close to, wouldn’t dictate how my husband and I plan our family. I may feel sad about having the procedure (especially given my wonky depressed emotions already), but I would not feel the need to apologize for it.
In short, having an abortion would have been what it is meant to be: just another aspect of women’s reproductive health care.