It’s personal. How could it not be? It’s my body. I was 14 years old. In 1973, abortion had recently become legal in Minnesota. I didn’t know that. What I knew is that the doctor had just told me that I was pregnant and asked if it was one of my brothers.
I didn’t question why he asked me if it was one of my brothers. That would come years later when I made an appointment to request a copy of my doctor visits and health history. Then, I was on a search to claim myself. Bear witness to that teen girl who had raised herself up on the exam table and screamed, “No!” My abrupt movement viciously scrunched the white parchment paper underneath me. I was overcome with fear. What must have I looked like to him?
I saw a similar expression on his face when I asked for my medical records. Fear. I wasn’t there to hurt him. What I really wanted to know is why he asked me if the pregnancy was one of my brothers.
“I ask everyone that,” he said. I knew that not to be true. By then I was able to trust my senses.
The truth of my pregnancy is that it likely was one of my brothers, but it could have been someone else. I didn’t know.
That mid-summer morning when I was 14, the doctor quickly left the room and called my mother who was at home. She had dropped me off for the doctor visit, saying, “Call me when you’re done.” I was complaining of stomach pain.
Waiting for her to arrive at the doctor’s, I leaned against the sunny part of the brick building. My stomach didn’t hurt anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. I was in freeze mode. I thought about my options. How I could run away, leave town, walk the opposite way from home. Take the side roads and make my way out. I’d still be pregnant. I nodded at my mother when she pulled up.
“I wish it was an appendicitis,” she said on our way home. She never asked me about the pregnancy.
My father was summoned to their bedroom. Phone calls were made. Then I was beckoned. “You’re going to have an abortion,” my mother said. All I felt was relief. She was going to take care of this problem.
Before my mother died, she told me that she wished she wouldn’t have had that abortion. I didn’t correct her by saying that I had the abortion, not her. She was dying. I’m guessing the Catholic priest didn’t give her absolution, which caused her regret. She said the abortion took her a year to get over.
I have no regrets. Not an iota of sense that I murdered someone. That I am a killer. That I’m going to hell. If any of that was true, I would know it. I spent 30 years in therapy getting to know myself. I’d know.
When I feel sadness, it’s not because I had an abortion. It’s sadness for the child, teen and adult who was left to navigate her past, present and future.