In my early 20’s, I was four months into a relationship and found myself pregnant. I was raised with sound values from family and church, yet felt alone as I was thousands of miles away from home while attending college. I felt incredible shame that if family and friends knew of the choices I’d made, they’d be let down.
This led me on a path of self-doubt that I did not know was possible. Fear is what it all comes down to, and I have learned that fear is distortion that masks itself in many forms more often than not.
Having no doctor at the time, there was a simple solution for this pregnancy: Planned Parenthood. There happened to be one just down the street from the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, Arizona, so I called and booked an appointment with a counselor. Prior to meeting with the counselor, my partner and I began to discuss various scenarios. Adoption sounded good. After all, we barely knew each other’s family.
When we arrived at Planned Parenthood for our appointment, we were quickly sized up. “Adoption would not be a good course of action because more often than not, the girl becomes too attached to the baby by the time she’s given birth,” the counselor advised. She continued to remind us we hardly knew one another.
My partner then inquired if their clinic performed any “termination” procedures. In our heated debates, my partner revealed to me that he once took a friend to have an abortion, and she seemed to have no problems with it.
“Well, yes!” the counselor responded enthusiastically. “We can certainly do that for you, and in your situation it is probably best for the both of you,” she said with a grin.
I find it interesting that on Planned Parenthood’s website under “pregnancy options” it reads:
If you are pregnant, you have three options to think about — abortion, adoption, and parenting.
Why is parenting last, I wonder? And another thing I notice – in all the Planned Parenthood videos, why do all the women who are portrayed as being pregnant appear to be under age 20?
I look back and remember that we did not receive additional information that would support us in our adoption endeavor. The counselor went on to claim that the fetus doesn’t feel anything during an abortion procedure and not to feel ashamed or worried while stating, “We do this kind of thing all the time.”
Estimating by my last menstrual cycle, I was approximately eight weeks along. “You know,” she continued, ”You are getting really far along in the pregnancy, and we often don’t do abortions past eight weeks, but if we were to schedule something today we can take care of this quickly for you and you’ll be so glad you did it.” She said all this with a smile.
I continued to ask questions about what it would feel like to have an abortion. The counselor went on to explain I would experience slight pain for a short time, similar to a bad menstrual cramp.
Medications used? Their choice was a low dose of Valium for the occasion and Ibuprofen. With one swipe of a credit card, about $400 would take care of it. And what if I changed my mind and decided to opt out? I was told by a Planned Parenthood representative that regardless of whether or not I showed up for the appointment, the payment would be kept in full.
The morning my abortion appointment arrived, we found ourselves among roughly 20-25 people in the waiting area. Upon entering the waiting area, I was hit with the reality of the number of pregnancies in the room – including my own. My partner and I found a place to sit, I signed some papers and took a Valium with some water from a tiny white cup. “Look at the kids” I whispered, as I saw a few toddlers in the room, seeming so out of place.
One hour passed. Two hours passed. Almost three hours and finally, the number of people in the waiting area began to dwindle. Then before I realized it, my name was called. I was prepped as if I was going to have an annual Pap smear. The room was barely 10’x10’ with stark walls and no décor. I took note of another door opposite to the door I’d entered through, but it was locked.
The nurse entered and began to spread a cool, clear gel on my abdomen to prep for the ultrasound. She then flipped on a monitor and began to move the probe across my lower belly. I asked the nurse, “Can you see it?”
“See what?” The nurse was rather distant and didn’t up. Timidly I asked, “Can I see the picture?”
“No, I’m afraid not today.” And just like that, things began to happen.
I wondered if something was wrong by the way the nurses were reacting so quickly after performing my ultrasound. Before I knew it, one nurse was standing on each side of me by my head, and a third stood at my feet. I was then instructed to place my feet in the stirrups and almost immediately, that mystery door that was locked from the inside opened, and out came a man in full surgical attire. Only the man’s squinty eyes could be seen, but just barely.
“This is the doctor that will be performing your surgery today,” informed the nurse. “He will now begin opening your cervix – you’ll feel a slight pressure similar to menstrual cramps.” The nurse was right as I began to feel the instrument probing around on my insides. Slightly uncomfortable at first, as I expected, and I figured this would be the worst of it – just like a Pap smear.
Suddenly I was startled by the sound of a machine that seemed as loud as a vacuum cleaner, or worse, a muffled chainsaw. A nurse held down one of my arms. “Don’t worry, dear…it’s just the suction and will take but just minute.”
I couldn’t think over the sound of the machine coupled with the increasing pain. I began to moan loudly and tried to yell, “Stop! No!” but I was too weak. The room didn’t look right, the voices grew distant, and I began to sweat and felt cold.
“Hey guys, wait!” yelled one of the nurses, “the back of this girl’s neck is soaking wet!” I couldn’t make out what was going on, and had lost my ability to speak. I have a faint memory of a nurse coming by with something terribly strong smelling under my nose. “She’s okay…just help her up and get her into recovery” snapped another nurse.
I was assisted and climbed into a wheelchair while writhing in pain – feeling like sharp claws that had just ripped away raw flesh. “What just happened?” is all I could think.
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I was wheeled to a larger room where I noted rows of bulky lounge chairs – about 10 to 15 of them. More astonishing was the row of women sitting slumped over and out of it, like something you’d see in a nursing home. There was a deafening feeling in the air. Some women were crying, some sleeping, some ready to go home, and one woman they had concerns with. I began to sob and sob and sob. “What have I done…what just happened?” is all I could ask myself.
As I adjusted myself in the chair, I was given a hot pad to place on my abdomen. I continued crying, and was handed a box of tissues. Before I left, I was given a shot for contraception as well as a lunch-sized brown paper bag. I opened the bag to find a few thick menstrual pads and an array of small, flat colorful packages that I realized were condoms. It felt degrading, humiliating, and insulting – like I was a shameful “bad girl.” I wouldn’t be having sex for several weeks anyway following this surgery, and condoms were the furthest thing from my mind.
Time passed in the recovery area – how much time I did not know. I was hungry, in pain, and just wanted to get home. I tried to hold back the tears. When it was my time to leave, I gingerly stood up and a volunteer assisted me across the room with the goal of going through yet another mysterious doorway. When the door opened, my partner was in the car, and he was firmly instructed not to turn off the engine or get out. Another volunteer came around and opened the passenger side of the door, and we headed back to my apartment. I don’t remember the drive other than feeling drained – I’d literally just gotten the life sucked right out of me.
My sobs continued for several days. I felt better, then worse. There were times I screamed, yelled, beat the couch, but nothing could erase what went on behind closed doors that day. Eventually, I stuffed it away and decided to “get on with it.” Just six months after having the abortion, I became pregnant again while on Depo-Provera. The partner I had the abortion with? Well, he was now my fiancé.
To be continued….
LifeNews Note: Anne Taylor writes for Live Action News.