Posted on: May 30, 2012
There were several times in high school when I swore I was pregnant. Even though I did everything right, I insisted on condoms, secret stash of birth control from Planned Parenthood. Still, there were times when my period would come days late and I just knew I’d gotten knocked up. Thinking back, I’m not sure what I was worried about-two types of birth control didn’t make the odds of accidentally getting pregnant very high, but the guilt and shame of sex that my Catholic education imparted worked wonders on my paranoia. I purchased pregnancy tests and prayed to the Virgin Mary, Gd, Jesus, the great Goddess to keep that second pink line from showing up.
On one occasion I remember getting two pink lines-one was a bold pink and the other a faint mauve. I panicked and wondered how much an abortion would cost. I knew someone who’d had one and thought I could reach out to her and in an instant visions of the graphic pro-life videos I was shown in grade school flashed before my eyes. Could I murder my child?
Of course I wasn’t pregnant.
In college I would argue with the pro-lifers who would flood the campus of the University of Toledo every spring. They’d come with their posters of aborted fetuses and stand on low stools with a megaphone preaching about how abortion was murder. Many times they’d come with their children and I thought that was real abuse-brainwashing your child into thinking that if they were in a pinch they’re own parents would turn the pitchfork on them-all because of a mistake.
When my sister got pregnant for the first time I wanted her to have an abortion. She was in a bad situation and the idea of bring a child into her life that seemed to be crumbling down around her was a bad idea. She didn’t and I supported her decision, even when it was hard-just as I would have supported her had she gone along with the abortion.
I’ve never had an abortion, and I support women who make the choice to have them. I support women who make the choice to have children. I support women who make the choice to give their children up for adoption. I support women who have their children taken away. I support women who have their children taken away and fight to get them back. I support women who have their children taken away and don’t want them back. I support women who don’t want children. Why? Because I am a woman. Those women are my sisters and I’ll gladly stand by their choices so long as they respect the choices of other women. The voices of women who make the choice to give up children for adoption, whose children are taken away, who don’t want children, who’ve had abortions are often silent or silenced by the loud roar of an “all-American” crowd that still firmly believes that a woman’s right to choice is not her right at all.
As we know I’m obsessed with having a child and obsessed with Kveller. It would seem odd, then, that an article about an abortion moved me deeply. Sarah Tuttle-Singer wrote a “My Jewish Abortion” yesterday and I applaud her for her voice. Not for her bravery, not for her courage, but for her voice. I don’t need you to agree with me on this, just as I don’t need you to agree with me on anything that I write. What I need you to do is to stand in Sarah’s 19 year-old shoes and appreciate her truth.
It’s no secret why frightened looking girls walk into the social worker’s office on the second floor of the Student Health Center at UC Berkeley.
And while I sat there, vaguely nauseous and needing to pee (for the third time that hour) I avoided eye contact with the students walking by. After all, Nice Jewish Girls don’t get knocked up freshman year of college.
The social worker had a warm smile and a firm handshake. She was short and petite with close-cropped curly hair and kind eyes. She reminded me of my mom, and I tried not to let that bother me.
“So,” she said once we were seated across from each other. “You’re pregnant.”
“These things happen,” she said, “and it’s my job to make sure that you have all the resources you can to make your decision.”
“I’ve already made my decision.”
“And?” she asked, her face as neutral as the beige walls. On her wide wooden desk, she had one of those small water garden fountain thingies, and the sound of trickling water rattled the stillness between our sentences. Not very Zen. I had read somewhere that the sound of flowing water is supposed to make people feel calm in the face of chaos, but it just made my bladder spasm instead.
“I’m not ready to have a baby.”
“Have you spoken with the father?”
“Any reason not to?”
(Aside from the fact that I wasn’t really sure who the father was…) “No. There’s just no reason to involve him. Why mess him his finals schedule, you know?” I could feel my smile, shaky and lopsided, slide off my face.
“Ok. Well, we’re here to support any decision you make,” she said, reaching for a stack of brochures to her right on the desk. “Here is a list of outside doctors you can contact,” she added as I took the pamphlet. “Do you have SHIPP insurance?” she asked, referring to the student health insurance plan that most students opt into when they enroll each semester.
“Good. That that will cover some of the cost, but you will need to come up with around $250.”