CHOICES: There was a morning about 13 years ago when I told my sister I was throwing up in the morning and I thought I had the flu. "I think you're pregnant," she replied. She was right. I stopped taking Tylenol and my temperature, told the man who needed to know, and wept. This was not the right time, we agreed.
When I went to get my abortion, nine short years after the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, I was surprised at the protesters outside. "Come talk to us," they shouted, waving their signs.
At the clinic, I was asked to participate in a group counseling session. Most of the women were my age or younger. One woman offered that she had three kids and couldn't afford another. A very young girl said her boyfriend had moved on and she didn't want a baby. We were not your Saturday morning coffee klatsch. At another time and place, we might have talked about our favorite movies, trips we hoped to take, our mothers. But we were here to have abortions--they weren't cheap, but they were legal. We signed our forms and waited for our names to be called.
The clinic I went to was clean, supportive, professional. Someone held my hand during the abortion, and someone who loved me was there to hold it after. Not everyone was that lucky. One woman called a taxi for a ride home. A very young woman, a child really, sobbed uncontrollably to a nurse. "But it hurts so much," she cried.
Four years later when I had a partner I wanted to stay with, a house, a job, a checking account, a cat and a cheese slicer, I decided to have a baby. I got pregnant, threw up in the morning, read the books and got ready for the longest job of my life. I made a choice.
I have a clear, legal right to a safe, medically-approved abortion. I did 13 years ago and I do today. This will not change. What can change is that those of us who have benefited from having an abortion, who used it to make decisions that were right for us, must speak louder than those who would take this right away from us--as loud as if we were trying to save our own lives.
Three years after my abortion, protesters at the same Tucson clinic frightened staff and patients by invading and occupying the place; they had to be forcibly removed by police. Escorts were added for people walking across the parking lot. For the many women who had made their private decisions, it was just one more thing to worry about.
Over the last 16 years, approximately 24 of every 1,000 women of child-bearing age in this country had an abortion. There were 13,648 performed in Arizona in 1993. Squeezed into a fury by the nearly constant rate of abortions, some rabid anti-abortionists have run out of ideas and into the nearest gun shop. This frustrated attempt to take away women's reproductive rights through fear and murder will, of course, fail.
One more time, stand up for choice, warriors. It's the law.
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