"Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made."
Brittany, 28, Colorado
I was 21 when a routine physical showed that I was pregnant. I fainted when I found out. I was on the Depo-Provera shot and in a committed relationship. I was also going to college, working full time and decided to end the pregnancy. I wasn’t ready physically, emotionally or financially to be a parent. I spoke to a woman at the clinic who asked if I needed an escort from my car on the day of my appointment. My aunt and best friend were accompanying me, so I said no. But then she told me to call if I was having trouble. I asked, “Why?” She paused and said, “Just please call if you are having any issues.”
I was the first appointment that day and noticed a few men, all in their 50s or 60s, milling around the parking lot when we pulled in. Once we got out of the car, one made a beeline for us with a fistful of pamphlets. My aunt said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and he got irate, screaming, “How can you do this? You’re killing your baby to continue on your whore lifestyle, you jezebel!’ Suddenly we were surrounded by five other men — that’s when the baby-doll parts starting hitting us.
They had a box filled with torn apart baby dolls covered with red paint. All three of us were hit — in the head, chest, torso. As they were pelting us, they yelled, “This is what you’re doing to your baby! Look at the street! It’s strewn with the blood of your baby. That’s your baby scattered across the street!” It was surreal and terrifying at once. And we still had to cross a wide street to enter the clinic. Then they shouted at my aunt, “Grandma, why are you letting her do this? Tell her to give her baby up for adoption!” My aunt responded, “First of all, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. Second, come talk to me when you have a uterus and a vagina.”
I thought I’d feel better once inside the clinic. But as I sat in the waiting area, I could hear every single girl get out of her car and do that walk of shame. That was the worst part of the day. When the doctor pulled up later that morning, there was such a frenzy the building almost shook. I heard them shouting, “Murderer!” and “Butcher!” and my heart started racing all over again.
I was the first to see the doctor. After he went over the procedure with me, he asked, “Do you have any questions?” I said, “Are they going to be there when I leave? — not, “Is there any pain?” or “How long will it take to recover?” He said, “No. After I arrive, they disperse.” That was true, and I was grateful. I would have stayed until they left. I couldn’t go through that again.
But there was one good thing the protesters did that morning: They convinced me I was making the right decision. I bet every single woman inside that waiting room felt the same way, even though none of us spoke. We’d all just been through the most heinous experience, but there was a feeling of quiet satisfaction among this group of women amidst the horror. I thought, “If I can make it through that, I can make it through the rest of this day.”"
I have not needed an abortion in my lifetime. But I have friends who have chosen to have them, and I have spoken to women from my mother’s generation, from my grandmother’s generation, who made the same choice. And no one, ever, out of all the women I have ever met, has called it an easy decision, or said “Gosh, I wish someone had been there to call me a murderer and a whore before I made this choice.”
This isn’t about “saving babies,” or saving souls, or anything like that. If it were, they would be out there with people who needed babies, playing make-a-match with potential adoptive parents. They would be out there with boxes of condoms and spermicides, to make sure this didn’t happen again. And they would be out there with respect, because if you disrespect my choices when they will define my entire life, there’s no way you’re ever going to respect them later.