Maybe I Had One. Maybe I Didn’t.

By Melissa Stefanec

As a woman and a parent, the last couple of months have been a dark time. I’ve felt hopeless, powerless, betrayed and infantilized.

The U.S. government told women they don’t have the right to choose when to become a parent. Now there is a fury inside me I can’t extinguish.

Becoming a parent is the most beautiful and difficult thing I’ve ever done. When my husband and I decided to have kids, I knew I was as ready as I would ever be to bring life into this world. I had enough stability, strength and self-love to support another life. I knew I was ready to be a good mom.

However, there were many times in my life where being forced to have a child would have destroyed me and that child’s wellbeing. I’ve been fertile for 27 years and those years have brought many hardships. I’m thankful that one of those hardships was not being forced into parenthood because I had sex.

This month, I’m going to share all of the reasons I might have had an abortion by medication service during my life. Maybe I had one. Maybe I didn’t. The point is I became a parent on my own terms and am thankful for that with every ounce of my being.

Reason 1: Poverty and love

I grew up relatively poor. From a young age, I knew my only way out of poverty was to get a college education. I did all the right things in high school. I was on high honor roll. I was in practically every club. I played sports year-round. I had a part-time job. I was going to break the poverty cycle and go to college.

But when I was in high school, I decided to have sex with someone whom I really loved (and who really loved me). We waited almost two years. I had been responsibly taking my birth control (thank you, Planned Parenthood). My boyfriend wore protection every single time. But we were both in foreign territory. We were hardly contraceptive pros. A pregnancy could have ruined all I’d worked for. I would have been trapped for having protected sex in a loving relationship. I might or might not have had an abortion.

Reason 2: Hidden traits

My high school boyfriend and I didn’t tie the knot. I went to a state college on a presidential scholarship. After my freshman year, I couldn’t live off campus or stay in the dorms. I had to go home for the summer. I stayed in my father’s vacant house while he worked to sell it. I had one dinner plate, one glass, a dresser, a bed, a laptop and a cardboard box I used as a desk. I worked three jobs.

I also had a boyfriend. I met him at college. He was six years older than me. He wasn’t particularly smart or impressive. He also wasn’t bad to me. He didn’t say or do mean things. He was fine.

I kept up my birth control throughout the summer. Then, my period didn’t come on time. The days ticked by and I panicked. I called my boyfriend of almost a year to tell him I might be pregnant.

He called back 30 minutes after that conversation and ended things with me. Turns out, he was despicable. I might or might not have had an abortion.

Reason 3: Coping with pain

After that guy, I pretty much had the same boyfriend for the rest of college. That poor soul suffered several great losses while we were dating. He was in a terrible place. He wasn’t coping with these losses in a healthy manner. I was in a slightly better place, but not by much.

I wanted so badly to save him, but at that point it wasn’t clear that I could save myself. He finally ended things with me, but we were on and off again for a while. It was such an unhealthy cycle. I always took my birth control, but sometimes birth control fails. I might or might not have had an abortion.

Reason 4: My husband and I wanted children.

After years of working on myself and improving my lot in life, I found myself married to a man I loved (and whom I still love). After quite a few years together, we decided we wanted to have children. However, we knew that conceiving and bringing life into this world wasn’t always easy. Sometimes, there were complications. Sometimes, couples were faced with impossible odds and impossible decisions.

Conception doesn’t always guarantee birth. Terrible things happen. I might or might not have had an abortion.

Reason 5: Then my husband and I didn’t want children

As fate would have it, my husband and I produced two beautiful children. We felt complete. This was the family we wanted. After years of dealing with endometriosis, I had a uterine ablation. These ablations greatly increase the chance of an ectopic pregnancy. So my husband had a vasectomy. However, vasectomies have a failure rate of one in 2,000. Thus, we weren’t perfectly infertile. I might or might not have had an abortion.

In closing, there are so many reasons women should have the right to choose parenthood. We need to listen to each others’ stories. Because, the truth is, abortion has improved the lives of so many people. It has been a strange kindness to women when they need it the most. Some of us wouldn’t still be around if we hadn’t had access to safe abortion.