Magazine of the Dead: Stories for Abortions
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Women were reclining on big, pillowy chairs. Two years ago, I was in Oklahoma. My boyfriend worked in Idaho—I was alone. At home, the antibiotic made me vomit and shit everywhere. I thought, Fuck the latex glove! After the contractions started, my hands turned into claws. I was dehydrated. I had this underlying feeling that I was being made to suffer, to repent for my situation. I called my boss.
He took me to the ER. When I stood up, the bed was covered in blood. I felt ashamed, but the way he reacted with kindness, I saw that I could choose not to feel ashamed.
When I went home, I got up to pee, and this gray golf-ball thing came out. I thought, So I just flush the toilet? Lindsay, 35 Minnesota, This guy forced himself on me. When the woman at the clinic went over my options, I bawled. Society is so focused on women being mothers.
I felt selfish for not wanting to be a mom. Rachel, 30 West Virginia, I have schizoaffective disorder. The doctor slipped me some cards for clinics in different states. We drove three and a half hours to Maryland so we could get it done in one day and miss less work. Outside, nuns prayed; protesters threw themselves on their knees with holy water.
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There was a sensation of finally being able to breathe. I had the suction procedure. On a scale of one to ten, the pain was an eight. On the drive home, I was nauseous, had light period bleeding, and we had to stop a few times. It taught us who our friends are. Kassi, 29 Vermont, My boyfriend and I went to the doctor for an IUD and were told to use condoms until we were together longer.
I was sobbing and scared to go into the waiting room. It took my thoughts a little while to catch up with my gut. The clinic near where I lived only provided abortions one day a week, the same day I had four classes in a row.
So I went to a clinic 45 minutes away. The soonest appointment was three weeks later.
I wore a black turtleneck and very nice jeans—I wanted to impress the nurses. I think I even mentioned that I was in the honor society! Now I think, Who did I think I was? I had no idea that the average abortion patient is all of us.
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I was going to a Catholic high school, and in health class we never talked about sex. The scariest part of the whole experience was not having anyone to share it with. I read on the Internet that minors can get a judicial bypass, but I was nervous it would take a long time—when I lay down and sucked in, there was a little bump on my tummy.
Finally, I got up the courage to tell them. Both my parents took me. I was at twenty weeks, just a few days away from being too late. During the ultrasound, the technician told me how big the head was—it was the most scarring thing.
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The next day, the procedure took fifteen minutes. I slept for the rest of the day. I was grateful my parents were there. I feel bad that it was so far along, developed. In my government class, we spent a whole week on abortion.
HB Georgia law criminalizes abortion, subjects women to life in prison.
It was awful. I was 19, at college in Michigan. When we got to the clinic, the waiting room was full, and I remember thinking, Wow, some of these girls are from school. I paid for it with my tax return, and-something-dollars. I chose to stay awake during the procedure, even though I was afraid of the pain. The second time, I was 24, living in Atlanta, and into my career.
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It hit me more emotionally. At first I thought, Well, I love my husband, and we have plenty of money. Pittsburgh has world-class medical centers, but it took a couple of days to get an appointment. Pennsylvania is one of 26 states that require a waiting period between counseling and the procedure.
We went back the next day. The staff was great. It felt a lot like a regular checkup but with painful cramping. My insurance covered the whole thing. Michelle, 62 New York, It was November. At work, a wonderful older guy, a father figure, told me about a doctor on the Upper East Side. That money was very special to me, one of the only things I had from my father, and it made me feel like a criminal that I had to spend that money that way. I was four months pregnant. On the subway ride home, I could feel the blood seeping through my jeans.
When I took off my jeans, blood covered my thighs. I realize now that I was in labor. I thought I might die there in my apartment. When I was 17, the toughest part was being asked if I wanted to see the ultrasound. That was the first time it was really presented to me, real. I went on birth control right after, but it gave me mood swings, made me feel terrible, so after a couple of years I went off it. The second time was harder because I got pregnant with my boyfriend. I took the pill overnight, hunched in bed, cramping unbelievably, and he sat up with me all night.
Well, I think he fell asleep once, but I woke him up. I went to work the next day. I think a lot of girls in my circle look at each other and think no one else has gone through it. It does affect you. Sometimes you regret and sometimes you feel good. You think, The baby would be a year old now. That night, he played Call of Duty, this very gory war game that was his life. I slept alone. It mattered to me what the father wanted to do.
It was an epiphany. I went by myself. I took the first pill and was given a prescription for Vicodin. My friend came to use hers. I told her everything. At her apartment, I was puking and pooping, everything at the same time, delirious, unable to stand up. I left him.
Feelings of Loss
I made it to school again. I rediscovered all these things I like to do.
Frances, 18 Texas, Because I was only 16, I needed to go to the court.