He said he would pull out. I don’t know why I believed him, or why I thought that would work. Pulling out is not a good birth control method, but I was only 23 years old.
This man had been a liar from the start, and he scared me. But I couldn’t bring myself to leave him. Or to say no to him, for that matter. He told me he was a grad student in history and philosophy. This guy also tied me to his bed in the trailer where he lived, stole my paltry paychecks, and sold drugs for a “living,” if you could call it that.
So I wasn’t that surprised when the two lines turned pink.
“I can’t have a baby,” I told her. “I can’t have his baby. I have to have an abortion.”
“I’ll go with you,” she said.
When I told the guy I was involved with, he seemed disappointed I didn’t want to have a baby.
“I need to have an abortion,” I said into the receiver when the woman on the other end of the line asked how she could help me. Immediately I made an appointment and my best friend drove me. I had never been to Planned Parenthood before.
As we turned the corner, the protesters’ screams hit me even before I saw them lining the walkway.
I had worked so hard to stop sobbing and now I was awash with tears all over again. What was I doing? What had I done? What was I about to do? I kept my head down and kept my body moving forward.
“My body. My right,” I whispered to myself. “You don’t want a baby. You don’t even want him. Keep walking.”
“May I help you?” the woman at the front desk asked.
“I’m Jenny Block,” I said.
“Have a seat. We’ll be right with you.”
No judgment. No drama. I could have been anywhere. The dentist. The florist. Anywhere.
I sat down and paged through an ancient copy of Ms. Magazine. I couldn’t read a word. I was anxious and scared and ready to be home in bed. Elise held my hand. I was incredibly glad to have her at my side instead of the guy in question, who admitted he didn’t actually think he could stand waiting there with me.
“Jennifer?” a woman holding an old school clipboard said. I stood up, looked back at Elise, and somehow moved toward the woman with the clipboard.
“I’m Janice,” she said. “You’re going to be OK.” I started to cry softly again and she put her arm around my shoulder. “Are you having second thoughts? We can sit down and talk if you like.”
“No,” I said, the word jumping out of my mouth as if it couldn’t reach the air fast enough. “No. I want this. I have to have this. I just get really scared and nervous with medical stuff.”
“You’re in really good hands,” she said. She led me into a small room. Told me to get undressed and put on a gown, and then said she’d be right back. Sitting on the table with the gown on and a blanket on my lap, I couldn’t stop shivering. Maybe it was the temperature, but it could have been my nerves.
No one wants to experience an abortion. I didn’t want to get pregnant in the first place. But I was grateful for the option.
They lined the length of the bed I was on. Someone offered to hold my hand as tears of relief and sadness slid down my face. I gripped her fingers tightly as the machine whirred and the dull pain began, and then before I could think much about it, it was over.
I was taken to the recovery room where a nurse gave me a juice box and crackers.
While waiting to be released from care, another young girl was sat next to me. She was also crying. I reached over my armrest and offered my hand. She held my hand until I was cleared to go.
“Thank you” she mouthed.
“You’ll be OK,” was all I could think to say.
I waited outside for twenty minutes for my boyfriend. Late, of course. Even to pick me up from an abortion.
“Let’s get pizza,” was all he said when I slid into the passenger seat.
We did and we ate in silence. At that moment I was more shocked that I was dating a guy who would say nothing more than “Let’s get pizza” let alone think that going to get pizza at this moment was a good idea on any count.
The guy and I broke up months later. The abortion? That has never been a problem for me to explain. And I share the experience with anyone who asks.
It was what I needed to do with and for my body and my life. I will always be grateful for that right, which must be an inalienable one and to Planned Parenthood for taking such incredible care of me.
I don’t wish abortion on anyone. But freedom to choose, I demand that for everyone.