Sara Ireland| Reporter
I had an abortion.
In November of 2014, I found out I was pregnant.
I was 4 weeks along when I found out. Yes, that’s early. One of the perks of already having two children was being acutely aware of my body. It took my partner at the time and I all of two days to come to a decision; ultimately, it was my decision. The reasoning behind my choice bears no relation to my reasons in telling my story. That said, I was 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant when I scheduled the appointment for the abortion at the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois. I had to wait until I was 6 weeks. They couldn’t do it any sooner.
The day I arrived, I had the option of choosing between a “surgical” or “medical” procedure. The medical option sounded horrible, so I opted to go with surgical. They offered a form of twilight sedation, but I declined, as I prefer to be aware and in control of myself. I spent approximately eight hours there in total. There were forms, speaking to a counselor is required, an ultrasound is required, there are various labs and vitals that are required, and a whole lot of waiting. Some of it is sensible, good healthcare. Some of it is little more than political red tape.
A few horribly placed shots of numbing medication made up the worst of the whole thing. Then came a dilating rod, a vacuum for a few seconds, a nurse awkwardly tossing a towel over the clear plastic dome of the machine that collected what was removed, a pat on the knee and a sad glance from the doctor. Those events, in all, lasted less than ten minutes.
I live now and lived then in Franklin County. I had to travel an hour to have an abortion. I had to pay $465. I was fortunate in having the ability to do these things. My mom went with me; you must bring someone to drive you, even if you don’t opt for sedation. I didn’t have to take off work. I didn’t have to wonder how I was going to come up with the money.
I wasn’t the single story of “woman who has an abortion.” I wasn’t impoverished. I wasn’t on welfare. I wasn’t a victim. I could have had the child, could have loved it and raised it. I could have. But I had a choice, and over four years later, I feel confident that I made the right one for me.
The point I’m making here is that there is no one stereotype that holds up. There is not a right answer or a wrong answer. I don’t owe society an explanation. I don’t owe anyone a compelling reason. I don’t owe anyone regret or remorse. The truth is, plenty of women have abortions and feel just fine about them and go on with their lives with the experience neatly tucked into their file folder of “things we don’t talk about.”
I’m one of those women. Or I was, until now.
Of course, this isn’t the option for everyone. Other women will choose to have a medical abortion in the privacy of their own home. Others will be more proactive than I and utilize birth control with 100% effectiveness (or luck). Perhaps more will find themselves at Walgreens, or Walmart, to purchase Plan B. And then there are those who continue the pregnancies and give birth and either raise their children or choose adoption. There are options, plenty of them, and they all deserve honest and genuine consideration to some degree. I don’t advocate for anyone to do anything but what is right for them, and that is something so unique and incredibly personal. I do, however, advocate for fiercely protecting the right to access for every single one of these options. A woman’s body is hers and hers alone, and hers to do with what she chooses. The right to choose is constantly under attack, and I hope that incredibly lackluster stories such as mine will serve to chip away a small bit of the stigma surrounding abortion and choice in general.
Thankfully, we all have choices. No matter what anyone tells you, they exist. We must listen to our own hearts and minds and not the hearts and minds of others. These choices will affect our lives as women more than those of our parents, significant others, friends or other family. If you’re facing a similar choice or trying to prevent being in such a position, the following resources cover every option.
Cheap birth control for women with or without insurance, prescribed by a doctor and tailored to your health and preferences, shipped to your home.
Available over the counter at most pharmacies and Walmart. Generally around $40, prevents pregnancy by up to 89 percent when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. While some places keep Plan B behind the counter, many others (such as Walmart and Walgreens) keep them on the shelves with other family planning items.
Family planning clinic in Franklin County:
This resource is one of a kind in Franklin County; it is an actual health clinic that provides well woman’s exams and birth control on a sliding fee scale ($0-$95) to women up to the age of 50.
Pregnancy assistance centers in Franklin County:
Pregnancy assistance centers are by their very nature pro-life organizations. These resources provide counseling as well as physical resources such as diapers, formula, and clothing to those who choose to give birth.
Pregnancy Assistance Center: 310 International Ave, Washington, MO 63090
Your Other Mother, Inc. 16 S. Washington Ave, Union, MO 63084
Hope Clinic for Women: 1602 21st St, Granite City, IL 62040
Planned Parenthood: 4251 Forest Park Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
Planned Parenthood: 711 N. Providence Rd, Columbia, MO 65203