By Diana Hsieh
I'd always been pro-choice, but I'd also always said I'd never get an abortion myself. Still, once I was actually pregnant, I was pretty sure from the beginning what I would do. And I felt better knowing that I could take a couple of pills and stop being pregnant that way, because I believed I wasn't very far along. A friend who'd had an abortion two years earlier told me there'd be a sonogram, but it was just procedure and I'd barely even know it was happening. Looking back, that's the only reason I stayed, because if I had known what a Planned Parenthood looked like I wouldn't have stayed in the place where I ended up.Go read the whole thing.
It looked less like a medical office than a children's playhouse. But I didn't know any better. I had never even been to a gynecologist — I moved out of my parents' home a virgin, and I suppose I thought I could just avoid it afterwards.
A young woman sitting at a desk didn't look up at me or, when I gave my name and said I had an appointment, acknowledge she didn't find my name on her clipboard. She just told me to go ahead and sit down.
"I'm here for a medical abortion," I told the tiny older woman who approached me in the waiting room.
"Why do you want to do that?" she replied.
"Do we have to talk about this here?" I whispered. The waiting room was empty — I later learned this was because it wasn't even open — but it still felt wrong, abrupt. "Can we go into your office?"
First she handed me some pamphlets. I opened one and it was a graphic illustration of an abortion, a cutaway of a fetus being pulled apart. I snapped it closed, saying to myself, that's not what I'm doing. A medication abortion, what I wanted to have, wouldn't look like that.
The bed she led me to looked very much like it was in a doctor's office. I knew to expect the sonogram machine. That's when she started asking the questions –- what religion my parents were, where they lived, what they did for a living, what my boyfriend and I did for a living. The other girl, the one from the front desk, began the sonogram.
"It looks like you're about three and a half months pregnant," the older woman announced cheerfully.
Then she turned the monitor to me. I have so many little brothers and sisters. I was with my mother the first time she heard my younger siblings heartbeat. There was a heartbeat now, too.
By that point, I was crying hysterically.
"I think you're going to be a really great mother," she continued. "Wouldn't your mother love to take care of this baby?"
The younger girl was nodding and pointing at the sonogram. "Look how cute!" she exclaimed.
I clutched my hand to my stomach and in the sonogram screen, an arm lifted. I took my arm away and the arm went back down. "Put your hand back up!" the older woman said. I did, and the tiny hand went up again. That's the moment that I can't get out of my head, to this day.
"Look, it sounds like your boyfriend needs to come back and talk to us. I think he'd be a great dad."
I didn't say much. I just nodded and cried. I believed her. Maybe I would be a good mother.
After a few minutes, she left the room and a girl about my age returned, an intern from Utah. For what felt like about an hour, she told me why I should have the baby, and how her sister had had an unplanned pregnancy and had the baby, and how much they all loved it. She was so young and so honest. I told her everything. I was still crying.
The older woman returned and printed out the sonogram. "I want you to keep this and take it with you everywhere," she instructed. She told me to make a follow up appointment with my boyfriend, but I just ran out. I must have known even then that I was going to have an abortion anyway.
The simple fact is that a woman's emotions cannot tell her whether having a child would enhance her life and happiness -- or do it irreparable damage. That can only be determined by her best rational judgment. When "pregnancy crisis centers" prey on women's emotions, they're asking her to abandon her reason in favor of blind faith. Is it any wonder that these groups are the work of devoutly religious people?