Almost one year ago I found myself in a place I never imagined I would be. A young, broke graduate student living at home, and about six weeks pregnant. The situation couldn’t be more cliche. I was getting over a breakup, and rebounded with someone older. I’d known him through mutual friends for almost a year at that point, which gave the illusion of familiarity. But in reality he was mysterious, older, distant, and emotionally unreachable. This of course provided me with intrigue, because although I was a self proclaimed adult, I had no idea how much more I would need to continue to grow.
Within two hours of the stick turning blue, I told those who I felt needed to know and then booked an appointment for an abortion. It was that simple, because I knew that I had that choice in front of me. And even though it was my choice to make, I felt that there were no other options. I was too young to be pregnant, too financially unstable and not able to provide a baby with what it needed. I was very scared, he was very selfish, and I knew I could never entertain the idea of doing this alone. We had one conversation about keeping it, which ended before it even began. I thought that I had made the best decision, and still think that I did. But I had no idea what realm of emotions would come during these next few days, but more importantly the weeks and months afterwards.
This tragedy we tried to overcome together turned into a deep wound that the darkest (and often drunkest) parts of our souls would reopen, hurling insults at each other in attempts to release the pain we both felt. I was often shocked by how disturbed he was by the entire situation, yet at the same time was so incredibly angry that he couldn’t understand my remorse. I was too self-centered to see that he did feel the same, but in his own way that I couldn’t recognize until many months later. It took a while to realize that there is no way to release the pain without trying to grasp why it hurts. Overtime we were able to discern that we made the right decision for ourselves and our baby, but it’s something I need to remind myself of daily.
This entire situation was probably the most socially enlightening moment that I have ever had, and it is a moment that stays with me constantly. As I tried to slowly trek through the minefield of my own emotions in the aftermath of this abortion, I realized that I did have a choice. This country and society presents me with the ability to choose whether or not I want to have a baby. Before you stop reading because think this is an essay of why you should be pro-choice, it’s not. I realized that I was able to make a choice and I could never imagine living in a place where I did not have this choice. What would I have done then? My only options would be to keep an unwanted baby that would never get the life it deserved, to seek out some back alley procedure, or force myself to chug a mixture of herbs and potions that would give me a “natural” abortion. Do these options seem far fetched? They shouldn’t, because those are the actual options that women across the world are faced with when they find themselves in the same situation I was.
It saddened me to realize that it took my own abortion to prompt me to stand up for other women’s rights to choose. What other situations would I have to physically experience in order to give my voice to that cause? I finally understood that I am a citizen of this world, not just my own life, and I have a voice that I can use to make this place better. Every single person is born naked and alone, the only thing that affects their life from that moment on is the geographical location of their birth. We all have a voice and we should be using it. You shouldn’t wait for tragedy to strike you or your loved ones to stand up for a cause. While the sentiment of raising awareness in memory of someone is beautiful, it should also make you think of what you could already be doing. You could preemptively start helping those who need you and make a difference now, rather than when it is too late for someone else.
I’m not writing this essay for you to realize that I am a young, liberal, recent graduate who believes that my pro-choice stance should be shoved down your throat — I don’t believe that. I’m writing this essay to get you to think. Think about how lucky you are to have been born in the United States and have the freedom to choose what you can and can’t do. Now think about how far our society has come just in the past year. We have become more socially active, more vocal, and more present in our lives than ever before. Be a part of that change. I’m not asking you to stand outside the White House and protest what you disagree with on your free weekends. I’m asking you to think about what you can do. If you participate in one event a year that is close to your heart, why not make it two? If you speak your mind constantly to others, why not try to listen more? Research what you can do to help others and start doing it while and when you can.
Learning to help others is one of the first basic skills that we are taught in school. Yet as we grow older, we are taught to put ourselves first in order to succeed and be the best. That very well may be true, but it’s also true that you can’t get to the top alone. If you have a voice, you should use it. If you have a passion, you should stand up for it. If you want to help someone, you should start now. I am almost embarrassed that it took a personal tragedy like this to make me aware that there are women across the world who need my help. But I am also happy that it gave me the greatest social enlightenment that a young person could ever ask for – that I have a voice that can be heard. And so do you.