After a decade of striving to be objective and fair in news coverage, I was always uncomfortable writing about my personal experiences unless I felt like it was necessary to prove a greater point about the invisibility of certain stories in our culture. It took Susan G. Komen’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood (which it has since reversed) to remind me of the importance of taking a side. I found this Planned Parenthood Tumblr today and submitted the following piece to it. I wanted to share it here, but also encourage you to follow the Tumblr and some of the great stories there:
The year before I left the Bronx for boarding school, I got pregnant.
I was 15.
I’d known since I was 12 that I wanted to become a writer. So, I kept a journal. In this journal, I wrote in painful detail (sometimes in red pen) about sex with my boyfriend at the time. My mother, a devout Catholic who went to Mass daily, read my journal while I was out with said boyfriend, and, after reading my journal entry aloud to my boyfriend and his mother, promptly dragged me to Planned Parenthood near 149th Street in the South Bronx.
The whole time we were there, my mother said her rosary in the waiting room. I distinctly remember throwing up, which almost never happened, which is how I knew that I was pregnant before they told me. I don’t know if how this went down was legal or not, I just remember the doctors noticing that there wasn’t something quite right about my mom (she had bipolar disorder and could be extremely violent — if she found out I was pregnant, she would have probably tried to kill me, and that’s not an exaggeration) telling me privately that I was pregnant and asking me gently what I wanted to do.
I told them I could barely feed myself, and my mother was in the same boat. They scheduled a time for me to come back, but when my mother came into the room, they said that everything looked fine and that I wasn’t pregnant.
If I hadn’t had an abortion, I would never have traveled, made it out of poverty or gone to college when I did. The door of opportunities would have inevitably shut. I pray daily for forgiveness, but I also am deeply thankful and indebted to Planned Parenthood for the important, life-saving and life-changing work it does.