I was almost around the corner when a man in a yellow shirt asked if I was going to the clinic. My mouth was too dry to speak, so I nodded yes. He motioned to someone, and before I knew it, six large men in shirts that said SECURITY in bold had formed a barricade around me.
My ex was with me. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Just keep walking”. So I walked, and as I walked the man barricade walked with me. It all seemed so melodramatic… until I heard the chanting.
The world blurred, and moved in choppy, slow motion.
As we rounded the corner, I saw the mob, the cardboard signs… then they saw me. They moved like a flock of sparrows after the lone tossed breadcrumb. The singing, the shouting – the din was incredible, with snippets of sentences reaching my brain.
“Don’t do it! Save your baby.”
“… blood on your hands…”
Someone threw red paint at me… it splattered on my shoe.
A women reached through the security men surrounding me and touched my elbow.
“You don’t have to do this. Think about it. For heaven’s sake, tomorrow is Mother’s Day.”
My limbs began to quiver, and I thought for sure I would pass out.
I quickly ducked into the building, and let my ex hold my hand as we checked in at the desk.
I sat looking at the blank forms in front of me, listening to the distant chanting outside, like a dramatic cliche from a movie. I wondered to myself, “How is this happening? How did I get here?”
It was one of those things that you think “never happens”. I was in college – still not old enough to drink legally. I had a steady sexual partner, and since I had recently stopped taking birth control, we used protection. One time… just one time… the condom broke. Was it old? Was it sticky? Did we put it on wrong? None of it mattered. I pictured everything I was working toward, as a performer, as a dancer – all of it coming to a screeching halt. In the blink of an eye, I saw myself losing my scholarship, giving up performing, ruining my life. I was not physically, financially, or emotionally ready to have a baby.
Picking up the phone and scheduling that procedure was not easy. Making it through the front door of that clinic was not easy. Looking at the pamphlets with pictures of fetal development was not easy. Talking with the counselor was not easy. Being left to sit for an hour and “think” and “absorb the information” was not easy.
I do not believe having an abortion is an easy choice for any woman to make.
After it was done, I did not feel regret. After it was done, I felt empty.
I have been afraid to write about this because I fear the judgement. My readers span the gamut of political, and religious views. My family members do as well. But the lawmakers across the country who are slowly chipping away at women’s reproductive rights have made it impossible for me to keep silent.
I do not dare to tell any woman what she should or should not do with her body, and I at least have been on the table myself.
I am now a mother.
I know what it is to carry a baby to term and have my body birth it. I know what it feels like to hold my newborn in my arms and bury my nose in his head. I’m forever swimming in the raw beauty, and aching craziness of raising the children I helped create. I know love like I’ve never known before.
Every choice leads us to where we are. I can’t live your life, and you can’t live mine. Life is simply a series of choices.
So, if I were to do it over again?
What would I choose?
One that assumes I would still have the freedom to do so.