At 14, I couldnt afford the pretty things I wanted to buy the baby. So sure it was a girl, I imagined buying her a pink lace dress, a matching bonnet and socks. Between her fathers mix of American-Indian and African-American, and my Russian-Jewish Mediterranean look, her skin would be the color of cocoa, and her hair shiny black.
But I was in junior high school, with a meager allowance, no job, no skills. My boyfriend (lets call him Leroy) lived with his aunt in the ghetto section of town. His mother was a chronic gambler and chronically absent from his life. Leroy was a dropout who smoked a lot of pot. He was great at basketball and singing falsetto, but neither seemed helpful toward raising a kid.
In math class the day before the abortion, I sat so it appeared my hands were in my lap but really I held them to my belly. Through my hands, I explained why I couldnt have her. Shed wince with shame about her ninth-grade dropout mom. I couldnt be sure shed have a father. Would Leroy stay when we fought over diapers? He never went to classes and was flunking tenth grade. Would he stay through fights over money? Would he spend the little we had on beer and pot? Such serious thoughts for a 14-year-old, but Im glad I was smart enough to have them.
I took a taxi to Hempstead, Long Island, to the Bill Baird Clinic. Everything in the clinic looked sterilized, white or metallic, even the receptionists coffee cup at the front desk. Pleasant, smiling people led me around. I was given a thin, sleeveless cloth robe, slippers and a locker to put my stuff in. I took off my jeans, Keds sneakers and an orange T-shirt with an ironed-on Stevie Wonder. There was a tiny crack on Stevie Wonders dreadlocks from putting him in the dryer by accident.
The doctor said I was three months pregnant, and if Id waited one more week, it wouldve been illegal to perform the abortion. Hearing that made me feel dizzy and sick. The nurse told me to lie down on the table and put my legs in the stirrups. She gave me a Valium.
My heart felt numb as I noticed goosebumps on my arms. I tried to block out the image of the babys face.
Leroy and I were in love the night we made the baby. A condom ripped. Leroy was panicking, I said, Dont worry, I cant get pregnant from that tiny tear. Now, there I was on a freezing cold table with my legs spread wide apart, feet in metal stirrups. The doctor said, Dont worry, this wont hurt.
It still hurts.
The other side of “the right to life”
But even as the vacuum sucked out my insides, and I imagined my baby screaming, I knew I was doing the right thing. What if I hadnt had that choice? If Id had the baby, I would never have been able to give her up. My life and her life wouldve been ruined. I wouldve had to drop out of school to care for her when I was only a child myself. As much as I hated taking this step, I felt then and still feel that it was the right choice for me. How dare pro-lifers try to make decisions about the lives of women?
For weeks, I have seen cruel distortions of the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. While protesters created it to promote civil rights, pro-lifers are using it to make disgusting comments like, Black Lives Matter, So Its Time to Outlaw Abortion.
I was sickened by a report issued by The Associated Press on Dec. 14 that said, Wisconsin anti-abortion groups are gearing up for another legislative session, with plans to push for a new ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and to revive a host of initiatives that went nowhere last time around.
The article goes on to say, One of the most contentious issues could be Wisconsin Right to Lifes plan to push for a so-called fetal pain ban, which would bar abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy based on the disputed notion that a fetus could feel pain after that.
But, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who weighed the evidence, said that a fetus cannot feel pain until the third trimester, which begins at 27 weeks.
Earlier this month, I was horrified by an article on ThinkProgress.org titled, Inside the Highly Sophisticated Group Thats Quietly Making It Much Harder to Get An Abortion. The article explains that the Senate Bill 1848, which was signed into law, regulates standards for abortion centers and requires abortion providers to obtain nearby hospital admitting privileges. What that means is that anybody who lives far from the hospital and does not have access to transportation will be prevented from having a legal abortion who knows what desperate measures those women may take.
ThinkProgresss article points out that any pro-choice advocate who looks carefully at the rash of anti-abortion bills will see that the text is disturbingly similar. Pro-lifers are putting together text that is almost identical to The Abortion Providers Privileging Act, which was introduced by Americans United for Life (AUL), a Washington-based anti-abortion organization.
Hayley Smith, associate advocacy and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who tracks anti-abortion state policy said, If you look at it, word for word, there are small differences but it is nearly the same. You can put them side-by-side, and even where they put the parenthesis is nearly exact. So its clear that there was copy and paste into bill form and insert Oklahoma, and its coming from someplace outside of Oklahoma, because the language is so similar. Smith elaborated: When you see a bill introduced in one state, and then you see a bill introduced across the country, and the language looks nearly exactly the same, you realize: Oh, this is all coming from the same base [AUL] and the intent is the same underlying each.
Donna Crane, the policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America said, If you think these ideas to restrict abortion are spontaneously coming to the hearts and mind of legislators across the country, think again. Its all part of a very coordinated effort state-by-state to deny women their rights.
In 2015, anti-choice politicians will control the U.S. House and Senate, 58 out of 100 state legislative chambers and 28 governorships. Anti-choice forces will be in a position to pass more restrictions on abortion than ever before, according to NARAL.
It is so hard to believe that things are more backward now than they were in 1975, when I was a scared 14-year-old who knew that I was in no position to bring a baby into this world. I am so scared now for any females who will find themselves in this position in the future.
Anti-abortion proponents talk about how mothers can put their babies up for adoption and offer them a good life. What they dont talk about is the difficulty in finding homes for mixed-race babies or babies in other circumstances and what it does to a childs psyche when they grow up knowing their mother gave them away.
The right to life should include the right to choose whether or not a woman wants to have a baby. How dare these pro-lifers impose their values on women and girls whose lives and perspectives they know nothing about? Females who choose abortion also feel strongly about the right to life the life of the mother and the father and the baby who would be born to parents who cannot take care of her.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.