my first encounter

Sex education in my high school consisted of a simulated baby and scary pictures of sexually transmitted diseases;  both negative consequences of having sex. The simulated baby would cry, require feeding and diaper changes.  At the time, I assumed that the simulated baby was a tactic to teach us not to have sex and how difficult it would be to have a kid at the age of 16.  However, methods to protect ourselves against STDs or how to prevent pregnancy were never discussed.  Moreover, what happened when one did become pregnant, what it meant to continue a pregnancy or terminate one were also never discussed.  I knew there had to be more to sex than virtual babies and frightening STD stories.  It was obvious to me that people were having sex in high school.  I learned about “real” sex from talking to my classmates in locker rooms, glossing over articles in Cosmopolitan Magazine and sharing Harlequin novels.   But even in those conversations we never talked about abortion. I can’t exactly remember my feelings regarding abortion; I just remember that I wasn’t for it or against it.

My feelings about abortion changed my last year of high school.  A friend of mine found out she was pregnant and wanted to terminate her pregnancy.  She asked me to drive her to the clinic and, of course, I said yes.  I remember that while walking into the clinic, a group of people holding signs and screaming at us stood on the other side.   They were taunting anyone who walked into the clinic.  I was immediately disgusted that there was a group of people berating women and making them feel guilty for making the decision to terminate their pregnancy.  I stayed with my friend for the remainder of the day to provide her with support.

I share this story because this was a pivotal moment in my life that changed how I felt about abortion.  It illustrated for me how important it is that women have access abortion and the opportunity to decide to terminate a pregnancy. It was the first time I felt comfortable saying that abortion is a right for anyone who chooses it and that no person should ever feel pressured to continue a pregnancy if they are not ready to do so.  As we have heard from many of the women that have shared their stories on The Abortion Diary, everyone’s decision to obtain an abortion has been different and right for them.  I applaud the women who have shared their stories with us and thank those who have been listening.  Let’s continue to have conversations about abortion so that we can de-stigmatize abortion once and for all.

stay sharing. be daring.

sheila

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