My North Carolina Abortion
I am lucky that I was able to get an abortion in North Carolina two years ago next month.
It’s weird to put “luck” and “abortion” in the same sentence, but that’s really all I can think about right now. I’ve spent the last few weeks watching the news from my adopted home state in horror, as racial discrimination laws, unemployment benefits, and education have been gutted. I’ve been proud to see the response, Moral Mondays, where thousands of North Carolina residents have shown up with signs, their children, and their voices.
And when House Bill 695 was introduced, I was mortified. The idea not only that legislators were trying to make it as difficult as possible to receive comprehensive reproductive care for women, but that they wanted to do it without the public weighing in, was devastating to me. I was thrilled to see the response from citizens on social media and in person, hear impassioned debate against from Democratic House members, and know that the fight was on.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about two years ago in August when I utilized the amazing care at Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, knowing that this law would have prevented me from making an important decision about my body.
My body. I don’t have to justify my reasons why I chose to terminate my pregnancy--it is not important why. What is important is that I had the ability to make the decision myself, and then could find legal, safe care with healthcare professionals who were kind, gentle, and straightforward. I was able to drive to a clinic less than an hour away, talk through my options with caregivers, and have a friend hold my hand every step of the way.
When I first began writing this piece, I wanted to explain why I got an abortion. But then I remembered it’s no one else’s business. And that’s what’s missing from the conversation in North Carolina. I don’t think its a bad thing for all health clinics to uphold a certain level of standards, both in hygiene and practice; in fact I want that to be the case for any place where I or my loved ones receive medical care. But it IS a bad thing to attempt to limit my right, or the right of any other woman, to make decisions about their body and pass it off as “protection.”
I am not only lucky that I was in North Carolina before all of this anti-choice nonsense really kicked into high gear, but that I am privileged enough to be able to make a choice. I am a white cisgendered woman with an advanced degree. I had no children to think about, and a job that was flexible enough to allow me the time and space to have an abortion. I had people to support me every step of the way. I was able to come up with the finances necessary to have the procedure--as it was NOT covered by my health insurance (shocker).
Many women in North Carolina may not be so “lucky.” My “luck” is really privilege. Women of color, women living in poverty or homelessness, women without health insurance, women who are underemployed, women dealing with intimate partner violence, you name it--these women may not have the privilege to make choices about their bodies in the first place, but the North Carolina GOP is adding insult to injury by making it even more difficult for ALL citizens to access safe healthcare.
My mother and her friends fought this fight in the 1960s and 1970s, in some ways. They revolutionized the way we look at women’s healthcare, and now we’re regressing. I don’t live in North Carolina anymore, but I still care for the state and its residents deeply. My heart is breaking as Moral Mondays are forced to continue, as my friends miss work to wear pink to the General Assembly, and as the New York Times and other reputable news sources begin to discuss “the decline” of the state where I proudly stood in the majority to vote for a Democratic President in 2008.
I was lucky to have the space to make my choice.
I hope our luck has not run out.