Four Reproductive Rights Stories

Updated: Aug 2

This category on our blog will be an opportunity for NOW members to tell their reproductive rights story. Please send us your story to put on this blog. It might be a story about

Please suggest the hashtag for your story. Let me know if you'd like it posted as a separate blog post or just added to this one so this becomes Five Stories instead of Four Stories.


You can also read other people's stories at this link: https://msmagazine.com/tag/our-abortion-stories/


 

Four Stories

 

My pregnancy/abortion story is that there isn’t one. As far as I know, I’ve never been pregnant. Does that mean I was always smart and careful? NO! I was stupid and took many risks in my 20s. It is only dumb luck that I didn’t get pregnant, or any sort of STI, or worse. I do, of course, have girlfriends that had unwanted pregnancies and were able to safely end them. I also have friends that had unwanted pregnancies and went ahead and had their babies. THAT WAS THEIR CHOICE.


I am horrified that a woman’s right to choose has been stripped away, piece by piece over the last 50 years, culminating in the recent decision by the 6 anti-choice, anti-human rights supreme court justices. We have to do better for the future generations! Our nieces, daughters, granddaughters, friends, women we don’t know and never will deserve so much better than what we have now. I, for one, am not interested in living in a Handmaid’s Tale world.

Dr. Kim Elmore, President of the Jacksonville chapter of NOW

Retired geospatial scientist and public health scientist


 

There weren't sex ed classes in my high school. I thought the pull out method worked. I missed one period and went to the clinic on my college campus. The male doctor told me to wait to see if I missed another period. Why did I wait as he instructed? I missed another period and went back to the clinic. This time the female doctor did a pregnancy test. When she informed me of the result, I was hysterical. I acknowledge there are places in my story where I appear to be an ill-informed 19 year old. Luckily, I didn't live in a country where my bad choices forced me to continue the pregnancy to term. After my appointment, I immediately rode my bike from the clinic on my college campus to a clinic that performed abortions. I made an appointment for an abortion for their earliest available spot--approximately a week away. I did tell my boyfriend. He said he didn't want me to get an abortion but he offered no other monetary options. Luckily he didn't have the ability to stop me from making the choice that was best for me. Not everyone who has an abortion made the mistakes I made. Everyone has a different story. I went on to finish college which I'm not sure would have been possible if I had been forced to continue the pregnancy to term.

Susan Aertker, Education chair for the Jacksonville chapter of NOW

Retired Certified Public Accountant

#SexEd might reduce #Abortions

 

Twenty four years ago, I had an abortion. It was a decision I’m not sure how I made so soundly at the age of 15, but I am so grateful that I did. After the events of June 24th, 2022, I am even more grateful that I was even permitted to make this choice for myself.

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, in a middle-class, Caucasian, Baptist family. I had a pretty happy childhood, involved in sports, church, and neighborhood activities. My parents weren’t terrible, I’m sure I was lucky compared to many others, but they certainly had their own dysfunctional relationship woes, typical of their generation. My mother was not happy with the life and marriage she settled for and made that known through a mix of codependency and acting out. My father was simply not capable of tapping into any emotional connection because no one ever taught him that he was able to do so. Yelling and slamming things around was the typical response to children misbehaving or a wife nagging him about yet another shortcoming he had. This made for a home that wasn’t unsafe by any means, but also was not incredibly loving and nurturing, and certainly not where I would learn anything about choosing a healthy partner or the message that I was valuable and deserving.

So, as a teenager, I found my outlet in friends, peer pressure, and older boys paying attention to me. I had no healthy models for love, communication, and respect, so I settled for whatever came my way.

As the story goes, I ended up pregnant by one of these “older boys,” a 21-year-old neighborhood drug dealer (again, I will remind you that I was 15 years old). I quickly learned that we had different ideas about what we were doing together, as he was sleeping with other people and did not experience any type of “change of heart” when hearing the news of a “bun in the oven” from me. The only reaction I got was from his father and stepmother, offering to let me move in with them, and they would help me take care of the child.

I decided almost immediately that this was not a pregnancy (or a situation) that I wanted to spend my life in. Luckily (or, unluckily, depending on how you see it), a few weeks prior to finding out I was pregnant, I had undergone a tonsillectomy surgery, as was recommended due to many bouts of strep throat. Prior to being administered anesthesia I was not given a pregnancy test, which I didn’t think anything of at the time. However, this became key information in my mother justifying and supporting ending my “15 and Pregnant” story. As I learned, by not being given a pregnancy test prior to being “put to sleep,” I could have potentially given birth to a premature child who could also have birth defects or other issues. That was enough of a scare that my mom drove me to the procedure (that I had already scheduled) and I don’t think it’s been spoken of within my family again.

There were some teachings and heartaches that came from that time, including rumors circulating about who else I had slept with and being labeled a “whore” in a couple of former social circles.

I went on to go to college, receiving both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work. After college, I started my professional career in the foster care system, which only reiterated my “pro-choice” stance, seeing so many families under-resourced and the effects of this on children in our communities.

While I never regretted my decision, I certainly carried a whole lot of shame into adulthood, along with perfectionism, people pleasing, and a tendency to seek out codependent relationships.

I spent almost 2 years in therapy as an adult, not because of the abortion, but to work to unpack the stuff that sunk deep into my subconscious- messages internalized since birth, familial conditioning and social and gender norms of my girlhood.

I am now engaged to a man who values me in a way I never saw modeled for me and much more realistic than the fantasy I could only imagine. I still sometimes struggle with what I assume will be the life-long work of both accepting healthy love and believing that I am worthy of it.

I have somewhat publicly advocated for girls learning just how valuable and deserving they are, while I have mostly only silently supported women and girls making their own choices about their bodies.

The desire to more publicly support choice has been ignited since the overturn of Roe v. Wade last week. The thought that there might be a girl out there like me- scared, young and deserving of choice- (and there are undoubtedly plenty!), makes me feel both hopeful and hopeless.

But, I have to choose hope.

I attended my first rally on June 24, 2022. I am trying to hold on to my battered Christian faith, love even harder and advocate and support louder- for us- for the choices, the lives, and the love that we all deserve.

-Jessica

#AbortionStory

 

My 17 year old daughter went to Planned Parenthood and got birth control pills. I found out by hacking her email account. I didn't want to let her know I hacked her email but I also wanted the birth control in the open so I calmly asked her if she wanted to take birth control pills to moderate the cramps she was having. She said yes and we made an appointment with her doctor. I feel grateful for Planned Parenthood and the fact that my daughter trusted them. I'm still not sure why my daughter didn't feel comfortable telling me. I guess it is because teenagers (like other people) feel they deserve some privacy. Whether or not I was right for hacking her email account and thereby invading her privacy is a discussion for another time. However, I remain grateful that she trusted Planned Parenthood and was wise enough to know that if she wanted to have sex and not get pregnant, she needed to be pro-active. Parenting can be hard and it can be filled with joy. I think it does take a village and I appreciate every loving person who helped.

Jax NOW member #ReproductiveRights include #contraception


80 views0 comments