The Last Abortion Clinic is the official blog of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization or, as I like to call it, the Love Shack of Death.
Occasionally, the blog posts the stories of patients. I recently shared the testimony of a self-described feminist activist encouraging and supporting her 15-year-old daughter through an abortion.
“J.R.’s” post is no less tragic. Single and pregnant at 21, she learned her baby would be born with deformities and need special surgeries. Sadly, two weeks before her due date, J.R.’s baby died in utero.
As you can imagine, the experience was dreadful. Despite her already-ambivalent feelings toward the pregnancy, J.R. grieved. And when she found herself pregnant eight years later with the child of a man she was preparing to leave, she couldn’t bring herself to go through with the pregnancy.
I can empathize with J.R. to some extent. My miscarriage occurred very early – seven weeks – but even still, it was horribly traumatic, both physically and emotionally. I went through literally hours of excruciating contractions, not to mention severe bleeding and a painful outpatient surgery. I also dealt with shock, horror, grief, and fear.
As I was lying in a hospital bed in the E.R., I remember saying to my husband, “I don’t want to do this again.”
And I’ll be honest with you: I’m still scared of getting pregnant again. I’m not only terrified of another miscarriage, I’m terrified of being terrified. A profound loss of control occurs when you get pregnant. In a way, you are surrendering your body to a process. Things are happening to you over which you have no power, and virtually every pregnancy – even the happy ones – involve physical pain to some extent. Usually agonizing pain. And, as J.R.’s stories and mine prove, many pregnancies unfortunately end in tragedy.
So I feel for J.R., not only because she suffered such a horrific loss, but because she missed a chance to give birth to her second baby, and to be healed by that experience.
After finding out she was pregnant again, J.R. wrote:
So I made my decision. I went to the clinic and I made arrangements to have my abortion. I told no one but one friend that went with me. I walked inside those doors alone. I sat in the waiting room alone. I went home after it was over alone. I punished myself with my own guilt. It was not an easy choice to make but it was my choice to make. Contrary to what the anti’s like to think we do not make these choices lightly. We do not use abortions as birth control or an excuse to be a loose woman. We struggle. We hope. We believe. We choose. Now I am married to the love of my life, I could not be any happier and as far as kids…..well, we’ll see where our love takes us.
A lot of us in this movement try very hard to get the message across that these women don’t have to be alone, that there is help.
Unfortunately, despite J.R.’s claim, using abortion as birth control is exactly what she did. What else do you call it? She was having sex with someone with whom she didn’t want a baby. She got pregnant. She aborted. If she wasn’t controlling birth, she wasn’t controlling much else.
I don’t know if I’ve ever used the term “loose woman,” as she does, but I do firmly believe that a man and a woman who engage in a life-creating activity must take responsibility for that life. And killing something is not the same thing as taking responsibility for it.
J.R.’s story touched my heart because I understand her fear and sadness. I pray not only that she has a bright future, but that she’s able to accept what happened to her two children and the role she played in the death of her second. Until she accepts this baby’s killing and grieves for both of her children, I fear true happiness will elude her.