Her abortion gave us a chance. Now, others won’t be so lucky


AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Abortion-rights activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases.

A few years ago, I pulled into the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood for the first and only time in my life thus far.

The conversation was sparse between the person in the passenger seat on the drive there and me. She and I knew we were in for a heavy day. No one wants to have an abortion. Still, it’s often for the best.  

Neither of us were in an especially great spot in our lives when she told me she was pregnant with my baby.

This was a time in my life when I had no real direction. I was broke, alone, and working a dead-end job. Really, one of the few positives in my life was that I had finally gotten an apartment a few months beforehand. This was after spending weeks sleeping in the backseat of my truck with my dog and on friends’ couches here and there.

It’s safe to say I wasn’t poised to be a father. 

Much of the narrative from anti-choice critics of abortion revolves around responsibility and negligence. They often imply that unwanted pregnancies happen because of irresponsibility. ​​It’s a paper-thin argument, as we know pregnancies still happen when people use birth control. Nothing is perfect.

When she told me she was pregnant, I made it clear that what happened next would be her decision. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel relief when she decided abortion would be the best route. I could barely take care of myself and my dog at the time, and even that was questionable. I was also battling depression. Suicidal thoughts weren’t unfamiliar to me at the time. I often speculate what the added strain of being responsible for a child would have done to me. It’s a complicated thought, but I sometimes wonder if her decision to have an abortion saved my life. 

Ultimately, I think she made the decision she did because she knew neither of us were prepared to take on this child. She also had responsibilities in her life that would’ve made a pregnancy nearly impossible to bear.

Neither of us were in a position to take care of this prospective child. Neither had health insurance or an adequate career supporting us financially to take on this burden. I’m ashamed to say I think I even had to borrow a little money from a friend to pay for the procedure. It’s easy to see that her decision to abort and not give us the added mantle of a baby directly impacted our lives positively. It was the right choice.

We were lucky enough to have the freedom to make this choice. Now, it looks like many won’t. This, of course, will negatively impact countless people – no matter their gender. A 2017 American Public Health Association study showed that pregnant people who cannot get an abortion are more likely to live in poverty and receive government assistance. 

Pro-choice opponents would likely tell people in a position like the one we were in that adoption is always an option. It doesn’t take much research to poke holes in the narrative that adoption is a suitable substitute for abortion. 

The problem is, the numbers simply don’t add up when thinking of adoption as a remedy for all the babies to be born – against their mothers’ wills – because of the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization researching reproductive health and rights, estimates that close to 900,000 abortions occur in the U.S. annually among pregnant people aged 15-49. 

Around 140,000 adoptions occur each year in the U.S., according to statistics from the Adoption Network, a nonprofit organization providing support, advocacy, and adoption information. Yet, around 424,000 children live in foster care in a given year, according to the nonprofit foster advocacy group iFoster. Who is going to adopt all these babies born from the overturning of Roe v. Wade when so many already go unadopted?

We don’t even have universal healthcare in this country, but SCOTUS’ decision tells pregnant people in some states that they must take their pregnancy full-term. The decision was made even though almost two-thirds of the country support the right to choose to have an abortion. 

It’s a misogynistic, right-wing, minority view of abortion, and it has rolled back reproductive rights 50 years. It’s turned anyone with a uterus into a second-class citizen, and has done so in a world where so many don’t have access to the care needed for a healthy pregnancy.

The implication and context of SCOTUS’ recent decision – made by a court with two men accused of sexual misconduct towards women – broadcasts a male-supremacist message. It says, “can’t afford your pregnancy? Figure it out, sweetheart.”

The pro-life movement calls those who get abortions murderers, and it’s an absurd, bad-faith argument, as ludicrous and misleading as the movement’s name. They form a discussion around morality, making those who opt for abortion feel shame. This enrages me.

I can’t understate the heaviness of the day I spent at Planned Parenthood. I’ll never forget seeing all these young women who had bravely made the most challenging decisions of their lives wait somberly to go through a traumatic experience. 

There was a teary-eyed girl in the waiting room that day that I’ll always remember. She couldn’t have been older than 15 and was accompanied by a young woman who looked to be her older sister. When I think about girls like her having to walk past protestors outside abortion clinics across the country, all I see is red. Who are they to tell girls like the one in the waiting room with me what to do with their own bodies? Are they going to adopt her child? Will they pay for the financial burdens that come with pregnancy and child-rearing?

An abortion happens when someone makes a brave choice. It’s a choice often made through self-understanding that one is not equipped to go through nine months of pregnancy or take care of a child. 

Now, this inherently American freedom to choose will soon be gone.

This week, I heard someone say, “if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.”

Let’s put aside the fact that as humans, we are on a primal level biologically hard-wired to reproduce – it’s basically any living thing’s primary goal. People can’t always just remove themselves from the equation. 

I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but people – especially women – often say no to sexual intercourse yet still end up powerless in it occurring against their consent. In cases like this, we’re now telling women they’re responsible for a pregnancy they had no say in causing.

To take away a human’s agency over their own body is disgraceful and is something I’ll never understand. I also can’t help but see the hypocrisy in it. American politics are still overwhelmingly male-centric, as is the Supreme Court. The majority of people who are drafting and debating policy regarding women’s bodies are men. Yet men – like me – have benefited from abortion just as much as women, if not more so. 

Today, the person I went to Planned Parenthood with years ago is in a much better place in her life than she was during our fling. She’s been able to put in the time and work to carve out a career for herself in a job that better supports her financial needs and she’s found some security. 

I’m poised to graduate from a great university next year and move on to a career I’m passionate about. None of the incredibly positive aspects of my life right now would be possible without her decision to terminate her pregnancy. It’s my opinion that neither of us had the support system in our lives to handle our prospective child. I can confidently say that I would have been a bad father during this time. It’s also my belief now – as it was then – that this country isn’t equipped to handle its current crisis of parentless children. It would have been irresponsible to add to that. 

SCOTUS’ decision on June 24 was especially devastating to anyone with a uterus, but it was also an injustice to all Americans, regardless of gender. 

This is an issue of fundamental human rights. It’s an issue regarding freedom of choice and agency over your own body, and that is what’s being taken away.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is being celebrated by a minority group who claim abortion is murder. They say abortion takes lives, but it doesn’t. It often saves them.

It likely saved mine.