I Was 33, Underemployed and Heading Toward Poverty — Here’s Why My Abortion Was So Important

When I got pregnant, I was living in Chicago and in a long-distance relationship with a guy in Maryland. It was kind of a whirlwind romance, and a couple months into it, I found out that I was pregnant. I was using protection, but I still got pregnant. And because we were long-distance, it was a question of, how is this going to happen?

He was already a parent, and I was underemployed. I was on unemployment. I was working under the table at a restaurant at the time and doing everything I could just to make my bills. And I just decided that it was not the time for me to try to be responsible for anything more than myself and my cat. I didn’t want to bring another person into the world who I was not able to provide for.

I sat with it for a while, because I always wanted to be a parent. I spoke to my mom, who said, “I stand by you in whatever decision you make.” She shared her abortion story with me, which she had never done before, and said that it’s not something that I should be ashamed of. I know that she wants grandkids, but she knew it wasn’t the time for me.

I called Planned Parenthood, and the cost was about $500, which I was not going to be able to afford. A woman there told me about a city hospital that cares for a lot of low-income people who don’t have health insurance, and there it would be about $75. This is a low-cost option for people, but it was not the most compassionate care ever. There was no privacy. They called my name. I went to the back. It was probably a 5 to 7 minute procedure. I came out. They gave me some juice, and a little snack, a cracker or something. And we had to sit there for a while, and that was that. I didn’t feel unsafe. The doctor who did my procedure was very compassionate. But it wasn’t a lovely experience. I drove myself there, and then walked about three blocks away so that I wouldn’t have to pay for parking because I didn’t have enough money, and I drove myself home.

After it was over, I felt strong in my convictions that the abortion was something that I wanted, and I knew it had to be done for me to have the life that I wanted. I was resolved that this was something that I needed to do for me.

I was able to find a job, and I got back on the path of being employed.

I still agree with my decision, but I do wish I had spoken to some of my friends and learned about an abortion fund, so that I would have been able to be provided with better care, someone to drive me to my appointment. The old adage “closed mouths don’t get fed” is true, because had I opened my mouth, I could have possibly gotten connected with this organization that could have helped me in my time of need.

I’m now the development coordinator for the National Network of Abortion Funds, and I do just that — I put people in touch with someone who can help if they don’t have the means to pay for an abortion.

This is a medical issue. It’s not something that should be excluded from healthcare, and I hope that eventually we’ll get to a point where the government is paying for services, just as they pay for Viagra pills and erectile dysfunction research. Abortion is healthcare. It is a simple everyday procedure. It’s not life-threatening, and it’s safe, and should be legal, and not mandated by anyone aside from the person who wants to have the abortion and her doctor.

  • As told to Julie Mazziotta

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