The Abortion I Got at 25 Radically Changed My Life

It's hard to even imagine the alternative path my life would have taken.

Woman Standing at a Crossroads
Photo: Getty Images

I was 25, my legs spread eagle, feet in stirrups at my annual gynecological appointment. The doctor congratulated me. I was, by her estimation, about 11 weeks along. That's how I found out I was pregnant.

At the time, I was casually dating (read: sleeping with) a bartender just two blocks away from my apartment in the East Village. Looking back, sleeping with him was more about the geographical convenience than anything else. He wasn't the type of guy I would have ever dated seriously — and not just because his favorite book was The Da Vinci Code simply because it was the only book he'd ever read — but, to quote Russian Doll, "Nobody chooses [him]. He's the hole where a choice should be." But there are pros to sleeping with a bartender and one of those major pros, especially when you're 25 and broke, is free drinks.

I was on a hormonal birth control pill at the time. I'd been taking it since I first started having sex in college. Although, and it's taken me time to really come clean about this and take responsibility for my own f*ck up, I did not take the pill as recommended. I had been in New York City for almost a full year, and my party days were in full swing. It's hard to stay on top of your birth control even when your life is predictable — and much less so when you're staying out until all hours of the night. It's also hard to prioritize it when you still have the naïve mindset that an unwanted pregnancy would never happen to you. It's not because I thought I was special or somehow superior to the outcome. It was just that I couldn't conceive it being something I'd have to face. And when things seem impossible, you cling to the notion that they simply can't happen. (Related: Here's What You Need to Know About Getting Emergency Contraception Right Now)

But low and behold, despite my lifestyle of drinking, smoking, and occasional drug use at the time, a fetus decided to join the party. Even after the doctor told me I was pregnant, I bought four pregnancy tests, all different brands, on the way home. Every single one was positive. It made no sense; I'd been walking around pregnant for 11 weeks and I had no idea. The only sign, a sign I didn't realize was pregnancy-related until after the fact, was the excruciating pain in my breasts. I chalked it up to severe PMS — but that was it. Nothing else had changed.

The choice to terminate the pregnancy was easy. So easy, in fact, that I've put more effort into deciding which socks to wear each day. I flirted with the "what if?" — as I'm assuming most people in the same situation do — but I always came back to the same conclusion: abortion. And I was privileged enough to live in a blue state that values bodily autonomy and a woman's right to make choices for her own reproductive system, so getting an abortion was as simple as deciding to do it.

For far too long, I took for granted how easy it was for me to get my abortion.

Today, we are officially living in a time where constitutionally protected abortion rights no longer merely hang in the balance — they're gone. With the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case on June 24, 2022, came the dissolution of constitutionally protected reproductive rights for all child-bearing people in the U.S.Now, it's up to individual states to decide the legality of abortion, and thanks to trigger laws designed to go into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned, some states have already banned abortion with little to no exceptions, with others to follow suit (a suspected 26 total). It's expected that other states will put harsh restrictions into effect, according to The New York Times.

To say I'm heartbroken and disgusted is an understatement. I've actually yet to find the words that accurately express how I'm feeling and, honestly, I don't know if I ever will. How does someone describe what it feels like to have a handful of people decide what you can and can't do with your body? Especially when the majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

This isn't the first time I've been appalled by legislation surrounding abortion since I had my own. When Texas enacted Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) in September 2021, which prohibited abortions beyond about six weeks of pregnancy, and sometimes even earlier, chills shot through my spine.As someone who didn't know she was pregnant until she was a whopping 11 weeks along (research has found many women don't know they're pregnant until around five to six weeks),I thought about how, if I were 25 and living in Texas, I'd have to go a "destination" state (where abortions can be provided later than six weeks) to terminate my pregnancy. The closest destination states to Texas are New Mexico and Colorado, both of which are roughly a few hundred miles away.

That's one hell of a hike when you're making $30,000 a year (which I was at 25); when the person who impregnated you is "the hole where the choice should be;" when there's the financial burden of gas, possibly renting a car, having to spend a night or two in a motel; and of course the stress of it all — that's not about protecting the "sanctity of life," as the anti-choice advocates like to call it. It's a war on people with uteruses. To take away one's choice, to leave them with no options, no way out, that's not pro-life — it's anti-life. It's the murder of someone's life as they knew it, of futures, of dreams, of the happiness that comes with having a child when someone is ready to be a parent, and the murder of freedom. And it's not a quick death either, it's a slow torturous one not just for the vessel — as that seems to be what us uterus-having people are now called — but also for the unwanted baby. It's the death of the human spirit.

If I didn't have the option to abort, I would have moved back to my parents' house. The guy in question, I imagine, would be long gone by now. I probably would have gotten a job at the one bagel place in town because it was close to my parents' house. I was so new to New York when I got pregnant, I would have missed out on many amazing friendships, great love affairs, career opportunities, and endless experiences that shaped who I am, how I believe, and what I want to do next in this life of mine. I don't know if — while sitting at mom and dad's, pregnant against my will — I would have cried as often as I probably should have, because I'd never truly know exactly what I missed out on...which probably would have been for the best.

When it was time to give birth, I'd be faced with keeping the baby or putting it up for adoption. I'll never know for sure what I would have chosen. But I'm leaning toward thinking I would have given the baby to a family who couldn't have a child of their own, and I would've moved back to New York City and tried again. I've never had much of a maternal instinct for anything that isn't covered in fur and has four legs anyway. I do know, however, my life would not be the one I have today. Not even close.

I got my abortion on a Saturday morning in March 2005. I was dead set against keeping that fetus and went into that clinic on East 23rd Street with zero doubts, completely hesitant-free, and walked out without a single regret. I was crampy. I bled heavily for a couple of days and had an insatiable craving for Odessa disco fries that I ate every day for a week.

Abortion isn't a dirty word. Abortion is health care. Abortion is a human right.

I went back to my job, the one I'd quit shortly thereafter to start pursuing writing. I got a puppy and we moved into our own apartment just a year later in the Lower East Side. I have a passport that's been stamped in 46 countries. I know what it feels like to hold success in my hand and the bittersweet ache of losing something you love more than you love yourself. I've foolishly taken the types of physical and emotional risks that everyone should since we only live this life once. I've lived an unabashedly absurd, sometimes over-the-top life (I'm a Libra; I like my drama) and regret none of it. And that's just a fraction, a fraction of a fraction, of what my abortion has given me.

My abortion feels like it happened to someone else, a character in a novel that has yet to be finished. For far too long, I took for granted how easy it was for me to get my abortion. The decision was easy, the procedure was easy, and I had the support of my friends and family. Because of this, I only think about it when the topic of the right to choose comes up — but since the Supreme Court's latest ruling, that's been every damn day and several times a day. More than anything, I think about how fortunate I was to live in a state where abortion is likely to remain protected, and about the thousands upon thousands of women whose lives are going to be destroyed by this ruling. (Related: Experts Unpack the Ripple Effects Overturning Roe v. Wade Will Have On Black and Brown Communities)

I can't stop thinking about all the women who, due to their states' laws and their economic situations, won't be able to get to another state to terminate their pregnancies and will have their futures chosen for them. I think about all the women who may try to have an abortion on their own or get an illegal abortion, putting their health and lives at risk as a result. I think of women who will face violence from partners who will be less likely to leave without reproductive autonomy. (Studies show that homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and between 6 to 22 percent of women seeking abortions report being in abusive relationships.)I think about the 10-year-old rape victim (Say that out loud: A 10-year-old rape victim) who recently made headlines after being ineligible for an abortion in her state of Ohio and was forced to travel to Indiana to get the care she needed. Had she not been able to get to another state, she would have been forced to carry her rapist's fetus to term, all before even finishing elementary school.

The Supreme Court has made it clear with its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ignoring the consequences I listed above (along with many more), that this isn't really about protecting an unborn fetus; it's about controlling people — controlling women.

This isn't the first time I've written about my abortion, nor will it be the last time. I'll write about it until my fingers bleed, so as to constantly put a face to it. Abortion isn't a dirty word. Abortion is health care. Abortion is a human right. These are facts. Anyone who says otherwise, IMO, is wrong. Absolutely, positively, without a doubt, wrong.

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