Not only is today Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade. (Erica Jong weighs in here.) And did you know that one of the most vocal abortion opponents is Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, self-described "reformed murderer" Alveda King? (King, seen above left, had two abortions when she was younger, and offers up this gem: "We give free sex education, free condoms, free birth control. That's almost like permission to have free sex.") Yup, less than a week after the news broke that the abortion rate in the U.S. is at its lowest in 45 years, the media is coming out with its inevitable "the women behind the abortions" stories, and the (not-so-surprising) news is that the majority of abortions are being performed on women who have already had kids, many of them college-educated. In fact, in the 35 years since Roe vs. Wade, there have been roughly 50 million abortions in the United States, with more than 1/3 of adult women estimated to have had one (a disproportionate number of those women are black or Hispanic). And on this, the eve of the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, I'll say it: I am one of those women.
I had my first abortion at the age of 18, while in the early throes of a love affair that eventually turned emotionally abusive. Fresh off my first year of college, I fell pregnant through a combination of raging hormones, high fertility, and, most notably, sheer recklessness. Four weeks later, hunched over and damp with tears after undergoing a D&C at my local Planned Parenthood, I vowed I'd never behave that stupidly again.
Talk about famous last words: Six years later, I did just that.
I could go on and on about my unwillingness to have a child, about the unsuitability of my romantic partners, or the precariousness of my financial situation as a young women in the big city without a trust-fund or even a savings account. I could talk about the dreams I had for my future, dreams that did not include a changing diapers, nursery school and single motherhood. I could express my belief that the embryos that existed inside me for four weeks were not fully-formed, functioning human beings. And I could converse for hours about my terror at the thought of disappointing my parents, or the long-held conviction (as a young girl I had walked hand-in-hand with my mother at many an abortion-rights march) that it was my right to control over what happened to my body, and that, when push came to shove, if I was going to talk the talk, I was sure as hell going to walk the walk.
But eventually I'd have to come back to the simple fact that, no matter how educated and "aware" I was, when I got pregnant I was young, stupid, and yes, "selfish". (Tracie, who's been through it too, disagrees: "It's not selfish. Having a baby and then not being a good mother would be selfish.") There was nothing comedic, heartwarming or cinematic (a la Juno and Knocked Up) about my getting pregnant (except for the time I was heating up soup in the kitchen and realized I was both barefoot and pregnant), or my choice to end a pregnancy. But most importantly, I was simply not willing or ready to have a child; I was just a baby myself. And although I can't speak of the reasons and realities behind the other third of American women who've undergone abortions over the past three and a half decades, perhaps some of you can?
Who's Getting Abortions? Not Who You'd Think [MSNBC, via AP]
If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would Be A Sacrament [Huffington Post]
Pregnancy Films Like 'Juno' Skip Message, Go For The Humor [USA Today]
Earlier: Experts Don't Understand Why Fewer American Women Are Getting Abortions
•Do You Care How Dudes Feel About Their Abortions?
•How Much Time Should Women Spend In Prison For Having Abortions?
•How Old Is Too Old To Have An Abortion?