When I was 20, I was in the middle of my junior year in college when I found out I was pregnant. At the time, I was in a long term relationship with a boyfriend that was coming to an end and I was nearing the finish line of completing my degree. I couldn’t imagine bringing a child into the world without knowing if I would be able to financially care for it and without having established myself in a career. So, I decided to terminate my pregnancy–a decision I have zero regrets over and absolutely no apologies for.
I used some money left over from student loans that I had stashed away in a savings account to pay for the abortion–I couldn’t afford the procedure with the meager earnings from my work-study job and kept money in savings for emergencies like this. I found an abortion provider very easily–a clinic down the street from my apartment that I noticed because of the constant presence of anti-choice protesters. My access to abortion was not difficult, but this is not the case for everyone.
That’s why I stood with more than 100 other people at the State Capitol on April 3 to Speak Out for Abortion Access. We chose to gather on that day because abortion access is under attack in the Commonwealth. Conservatives lawmakers in Richmond are interfering in the private healthcare decisions that should be between a person and their doctor by making it hard for people to access abortion. We must stop this nonsense and stand up for people’s right to decide whether and when to start a family.
Why Speak Out?
The voices of people who have made the personal medical decision to seek an abortion and the voices of healthcare professionals who provide abortions are being shut out from this debate. The Speak Out for Abortion Access rally was a safe space for people who have had abortions, members of the medical community, and other supporters to stand up for access to abortion care. It was powerful to hear the stories of other people like me, who found themselves in unfortunate circumstances and unable to bring a child into the world.
Kara from Northern Virginia found out she was impregnated by her ex-boyfriend through dubious means. She decided to end the pregnancy and talked about her experience at the Speak Out. “Because of the stigma surrounding abortion…as well as my inability to access a clinic, I self-managed my abortion at home using questionable information I got from the Internet,” Kara told the crowd during the rally.
“I tell my story because no one should be so afraid of societal backlash that they feel unsafe seeking medical attention.”Kara, a Virginian who decided to have an abortion.
Dr. Sara Imershein, an abortion provider from Falls Church, said that medical experts are the people who should help patients determine what’s best for them medically–not politicians. “Abortion is safe,” Dr. Imershein told the crowd at the Speak Out. “It is legal and it needs to be accessible.”
A Majority of Virginians Support Abortion Access
An overwhelming majority of Virginians (72%) believe abortion should be accessible, safe, and legal. But anti-family lawmakers in Virginia have put up medically unnecessary barriers like waiting periods, biased counseling and Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws to keep people from getting the reproductive healthcare they need.
Politicians Need to Back Off and Let People Make the Decisions Best for Them
What conservative politicians don’t understand is that I (and everybody else) have the right to decide what to do with my destiny. I really don’t appreciate them telling me what to do, which is why I decided to speak out. When I had an abortion, I was very lucky to go to a clinic near my apartment. It was so close that I could walk there! I had to undergo counseling 24 hours in advance of my abortion and receive state-mandated, biased information, but my mind was already made up. I wanted to finish college and continue my life without having to care for a child. The abortion procedure was easy (it was done in a couple of hours) and the side effects were minimal. I’ve had tooth extractions that were more painful than my abortion. Having an abortion was the best decision I could have made for myself at the moment and I haven’t looked back since.
Unfortunately, many Virginians don’t have it as easy as I did when they seek an abortion. They have to travel to clinics out of town, arrange for child care, pay for gas or find a ride, take time off from work, and find money to pay for a medical procedure that some insurance policies won’t cover. On top of the legal barriers thrown up by conservative politicians, Virginians face all sorts of obstacles to get an abortion, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.
I am part of the majority of Virginians who believe people should have access to abortion. With Roe v. Wade under threat due to a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, we must make our voices LOUD and CLEAR: “Abortion access is a RIGHT for EVERYONE!” No regrets! No apologies! Join us as we stand together for abortion access!