Kari K. Smith
I had an abortion six months ago. I offer no poetic nuances to skirt the
issue. I am twenty-six, married, and college-educated. I never
imagined that I would become an abortion statistic. I had no idea how
abortion could affect a woman's life.
My life became a surreal blur the minute I missed a few birth-control
pills and became pregnant. I'd forgotten to take a pill several times
before and had never become pregnant. I declared that it was not fair,
that I had been cheated. I wallowed in depression. I contemplated
suicide. I did everything but take responsibility for my actions.
I had an abortion in my ninth week. Guilt was my shroud. I could not
unwrap myself from its grip. During the procedure I learned that I had
been pregnant with twins. This doubled my regret. I sank deeper into
depression. I felt alone and lost. I wanted my babies back.
I gave people so many excuses for having an abortion. "It's not the
right time," or "we aren't settled into our own lives," or "we could
never afford it," or "I have health problems." All of these statements
were true, but I was only trying to convince myself that my decision was
sound. I wanted someone to tell me that I was still worthy of love and
worthy of this life.
My days were spent reflecting on my existence and my decision. I
questioned everything. I wondered how my life would have been different
with two children. Was I destined to be a mother? Were my priorities
straight? I pondered damnation. I wondered if I could make it another
Months of tears and idleness followed. I slowly began to realize,
though, that there were lessons screaming to be learned from my
experience. My lessons began, fittingly, with loss. The decision to
terminate my pregnancy cost me a friendship of twelve years. My friend
disagreed morally with abortion and cut me out of her and her family's
life. I reacted harshly and insulted her. I felt judged. I felt
betrayed. I felt like I let her down.
I recognize now that my friend was only living her convictions. I
respect that. She taught me that others can only judge you if you allow
yourself to be judged. I allowed her to judge me. I condemned her for
doing it. I have since retracted the blame I placed on her and accept
it fully for myself. Despite the fact that we travel in separate
directions, I am confident in the knowledge that we are both leading
lives based upon our own principles. I gave up trying to please
everyone with the decisions I made. I looked to myself for
When I found out I was pregnant and chose abortion, I acted as if I was
the victim of an elaborate scheme to sabotage my life. My world was
crumbling around me and I was sure that some higher power was plotting
my ruin. In reality, I had hold of the reins the entire time. I was
the authority when it came to my reproductive status. I was in charge
of making decisions. I knew pregnancy was a risk when I missed pills.
I took the risk. I became pregnant. I chose abortion. My choices had
repercussions. I understand now that you cannot hide from the outcomes
of your actions.
My second lesson involved taking responsibility for becoming pregnant
and having an abortion. I make no excuses and blame no one for the
results of my acts. It is easy to fall into the victim role because it
leaves you with no liability. Without liability, though, you do not
have control over your life. You give your power away when you choose
to be a victim.
Even though I stopped dwelling on the judgments of others and took
responsibility for my actions, I could not pick up my feet and move on.
I repeatedly imagined scenarios in which I gave birth and became a
mother. I dreamed that everything would be fairy-tale perfect. These
scenarios tortured me. They became my reality. My imagined life kept
me in limbo, hanging on to what-ifs. I wasted precious time wishing I
had made a different decision.
My final lesson was hard-learned. I needed to let go. I had always had
difficulty with this concept. I held fast to yesterday. I carried
grudges like my favorite handbag. I played the scenes of my life over
and over in search for a better ending.
I finally hit bottom. I looked around and saw the world spinning while
I remained immobile. The snow was melting and giving way to leaf-buds.
Friends were announcing weddings and pregnancies. The universe
persisted with or without my presence. I was not its center.
I awoke from the flawless dream in my head and decided to enter my
tainted existence. I surrendered to the reality that I alone had
created. It was far from perfect, but I claimed it as my own. I
stopped trying to relive and recreate the past. Instead, I embraced it.
I gleaned what I could and moved on. Our past makes us who we are, and
I was a woman who had had an abortion.
I remain pro-choice, but I have a deeper understanding of the
ramifications of abortion. I was one of more than thirty women seeking
an abortion that day in the clinic. Unique circumstances had brought
each of us to that particular place and time. We were, however, a union
of women making a choice that would redefine our existence.
Abortion is not something that happens in a few minutes and is then
forgotten. Abortion remains with you, teaches you things, becomes part
of who you are. Abortion should not be ignored and left to grow rancid
in a woman's soul. It should have its say. Then it should be packed
carefully away next to the other memories and experiences that make a
Abortion changed my life. I am not ashamed to say it. It added to the
total package of who I am and who I will become. I refuse to be defined
solely by abortion, but I also refuse to hide what it has taught me. I
learned important lessons. I try to live those lessons. I lost friends
and time. I gained control. I chose abortion. Now, I choose to
© Kari K. Smith
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