The Life Abortion Gave Me
On endings and beginnings
Last night, the moment that reproductive rights activists have been warning us about actually happened: The Supreme Court failed to stop a Texas law banning abortion after six weeks, signaling that the end of Roe may be near. The law, which also allows individuals to sue anyone that “abets” an abortion, is clearly unconstitutional—so the Court’s refusal to block it acts as a glowing ‘welcome’ sign for legislators eager to overturn abortion rights completely.
Like so many others, I’m furious, sad, and very, very scared. I’m doing my best to support feminists on the ground in Texas—the activists who know best what their state needs. (You can find abortion funds to help and people to follow on this thread.)
But I also wanted to take a moment to share what abortion has meant to me, personally.
Most people talk about abortion as if something is ending. Even the language that pro-choicers use—saying that we ‘ended’ a pregnancy or using the word ‘termination’—reflects that mindset. It’s not that those words aren’t accurate, exactly—but they’re also not complete. Because for me, and for so many others, abortion was the start of something.
When I had an abortion at 28 years-old, I was in the middle of writing my first book and a few months away from meeting the man I would marry. The life and family I have now simply would not exist without that abortion. I would not have started a relationship with Andrew, and I would not have had my incredibly loved daughter, Layla. A world without them both would be a much dimmer life, and it’s one I prefer not to imagine.
That abortion didn’t just allow me to create my family, it has had ripple effects. All abortions do.
Because of my abortion, I wrote books and gave speeches; I did work that helped other women. After being pregnant with Layla and getting ill with HELLP syndrome, I wrote about the hardships of being a mom to a preemie—something I know made a difference in the lives of parents going through the same thing.
Without my abortion, none of that—all that was difficult and all that I’m proud of and grateful for—would have happened.
Without abortion, I wouldn’t have the friends I have now, or the career, or even my very life. Because when I got pregnant again after Layla was born, the chances of my getting sick—and dying, this time—were significant. And so I had a second abortion, one that broke my heart but ensured my daughter grew up with a mother.
Those who rail against abortion like to divide women into two groups: those who have abortions and those who have children. Most often, though, we’re both.
Anti-choicers like to pose hypotheticals about the remarkable baby a woman could have if she just didn’t get an abortion: What if they cured cancer? None ask if that woman herself might change the world. They never consider that we could be the remarkable ones, if only given the chance.
The lives and experiences abortions create, though, don’t have to be extraordinary to matter. I think less about the books I’ve written because of my abortion, and more about how without it, Layla’s best friend never would have met her. Or how the dogs lucky enough to be walked on my block wouldn’t have a lanky blonde girl running up to give them pets and compliments. I think about my husband, and how he would have moved back to California had we never met, and how sad that would be for New York.
The truth is that all abortions create something. Paths forward, lives lived, connections made. Some are hard, some are beautiful—but all are chosen. And that’s what we can’t afford to lose.
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