Thursday, June 13, 2013

Abortion: My Story

While the actions of Mike Ellis and Mary Lazich, in ramming the forced ultrasound bill through the state Senate, were disgusting, the true effect of this horrendous bill is even worse.   This will greatly affect women who have to come face to face with this choice and the roadblocks that the uneducated big Government republicans have put into place are helping no one.  

To bring us a woman's perspective, Heather Rayne has graciously chosen to share her deeply personal story with all of us. 

While this is Heather's personal story, this could be anyone's.  It could your friend, co-workers, sisters, cousins story also.  Let's keep that in mind before we judge those who have had to face this decision!  

Here are Heather's words, unedited:

I have been writing for many years now. And I have never been one to really hold back. I have written about anxiety, depression, legal issues, drug use - plenty of personal matters most would hide away and not speak about publicly. Those who read my stuff probably think they know pretty much everything about me. And while they know a lot - there are certain things I have left reticent. With much fear and hesitation, I am about to disclose one of them.

This week, our state lawmakers are furthering their draconian agenda by taking on the issue of abortion while voting on budget items. How whether or not a woman decides to proceed with a pregnancy is budget related is beyond me. And I just wish they would come out and say it: "Hey! The "people" who donate to our campaigns, help keep us elected and may be our future employers do not approve of abortion. So, we are going to dismantle these rights one quiet, sneaky step at a time so the general public doesn't even notice." These actions by our legislators have prompted me to speak out. SOMEone needs to be honest here.

I wasn't raped nor was I a victim of incest. My life was not in danger, not any more than the average woman anyway. And I was not merely a child. But I did have an abortion. 

I knew I was pregnant right away. I had the same sick feeling and constant vomiting that I had with each new birth control pill I had tried. Pack after pack - literally right down the toilet. I was petrified and uninsured. I went to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test. A fear I never before experienced suddenly became a reality. The test was positive.  I walked home in the dead heat of summer, throwing up on the way, in a complete haze. 

I was in a very unhealthy place. No money, a dysfunctional relationship and a number of bad habits all helped make up the pile of shit I called life. Even though I attempted to imagine adding a child to my world and as much as I had delusions that a baby could fix everything - I was ultimately smart enough to know better.

My boyfriend didn't seem to have much difficulty coming to his conclusion. "We can NOT have a baby right now," were the exact words. Even though I knew he was right, it was still a jagged knife cloaked in rejection and horror. He hated me, I just knew it. And he was afraid. I had the power to ruin the carefree life he so enjoyed. But believe me, it was not a power I would wish on anyone. 

I found out that I was only 4 weeks along and had to wait another week before scheduling the procedure. It may as well have been an eternity.  I was disgusted with myself. I was a smart, young woman and my irresponsibility was embarrassing. I was careless, period. It was my body and I could lay the blame on nobody else. The week was filled with sickness, shame and fear.

Typically, when a woman considers the option of abortion, she does not do so with a grain of salt. Even when there is complete certainty, what-ifs and doubts can weave in like a cancer. This is not a choice made lightly. And it is not a life moment simply forgotten. 

Senator Mary Lazich stated that in the 60’s, having an abortion was thee thing to do; that you almost HAD to have one to be a woman. Not only is this insulting but it is a flat out fairy tale. She couldn’t appear more disconnected if she tried.

I had been warned about protesters but never expected the mob that was there to greet me. Brochures, banners and signs with pictures of fetuses lined the sidewalk. Men, women and children were shouting and dramatically “praying”.

“Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!”  Was screamed into my face over and over until the clinic staff was able to safely help me inside. 

Once I had been extensively counseled and had everything explained to me, I went back to the waiting room for what seemed like an additional week. I couldn't believe it was happening. I couldn't believe I was there. Me. The last person I knew to even have sex. I waited until I was almost 19. I was by no means a "slut".  And I was with that boyfriend for 3 years. A couple of years later and there I was - a loser, a whore, a murderer.

My legs were in the stirrups and I was offered headphones to wear so that I didn't have to hear what was happening - as if that would be enough to throw me into denial. A nurse stood behind me and held my hand while I went through an intensely uncomfortable and heartbreaking procedure. 

On the drive home I felt as though I had just had a lobotomy. I stared out of the window and did not speak. I hated him for letting me go through with it. I hated myself for even being in that position. But that hate faded the more I realized that I had made the best decision possible at the time. You see, a person can have feelings of regret with even the best of decisions.

I had always been pro-choice. I wasn't raised religiously so I didn't have that brand of stigma. But I thought I was better than that. I was smarter. I wasn't like those other chics. Except…I was. 

I have read that about 40% of women have an abortion at some point in their lives. Even if it is only half of that - that is still a shit load of people who are told to hate themselves.
It is certainly not something of which to be proud. It is not a topic for the dinner table or drinks with friends. It is a personal, sensitive issue. But it does exist. It is indeed prevalent. And I do not want to perpetuate this punishment of shame by keeping silent and pretending it only happens to other women. 

Those who devote their lives to condemning people like me feel the need to punish and demean. And this new legislation mandating ultrasounds for abortion patients is yet one more lash on the back of the already wounded. And what is worse, it is being done under the pathetic guise of patient interest.

You see, you cannot punish a woman for this decision. If a woman cares enough to feel guilt, she already does. If punishment would mean anything, you can bet she is already punishing herself. And if she is one of those women to whom it really doesn't bother all that much - signs, blow-horns and ultrasounds will certainly not make an changing impression.
These anti-choice legislators want women in this position to see the fetus before going through with a termination. They want the technician to describe what is on the screen. They want to make sure that she will be disciplined with mental images for the rest of her life. At best, this is mean-spirited. At worst, this is evil. 

Senator Lazich says that women do not fully understand what they are doing without an ultrasound and full description of the “baby” in her womb. Boy she sure thinks we are idiots, doesn’t she? While this choice may come with subsequent guilt and sadness – I can assure you it does not come with confusion. Any woman going in for that procedure knows EXACTLY what the outcome will be.

The clinic did perform an ultrasound on me. However, the screen was turned away and not a word was spoken. I assume that was out of compassion and respect. I did not have to see any images. Yet, all of these years later, I still have moments of guilt and fear and shame. Had I seen the image, I cannot be sure it wouldn't have sent me into a complete downward spiral. Either way, the decision would have remained the same and I am absolutely positive it was the right thing to do, for me.

I am now a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an aunt, a volunteer, an animal lover, a writer. I help whenever I can help. I love with all of my heart. Hell, I don't even kill spiders. I am just like your neighbor, your friend, your sister, your mother. Abortion is not reserved for the invisible or the criminal or the oddities of society. When you call a woman a murderer for having made this decision, you are likely also referring to someone you care about. 

Abortions are not to be celebrated. No one is PRO abortion. No woman wants to have one and no woman treats it like a trip to the mall. It is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make; a decision that should have NOTHING to do with government, policy or legality. It is one made with tears, difficulty and dare I say, bravery.

I had an abortion and I am no monster. And regardless of my choices in life, no one - NO ONE - has the right or reason to make any sort of mandate on my body.

There are many arguments as to why these anti-abortion bills are perverse. And there are plenty of smart people publishing stories, articles and blogs outlining those arguments. I am simply telling my story so that others know they do not deserve to be shamed for a choice they have made and that they have a voice just as loud as any other.

Having an abortion didn't take away our dignity or our humanity. And I will be damned if I will sit by quietly while the government tries to do just that. 


  1. As someone who knows and cares about the author, I can say she speaks for many of us - our mothers, our sisters, our friends and even me.

    Heather puts in to perfect focus the difference between regret and shame.

    We already knew legislators make lousy doctors, turns out in many cases they make lousy humans too.

    1. Heather, you are and always will be my friend, and I care about you very much, thank you for putting down "on paper" what a lot of us are feeling, including myself, I was 17.........

  2. Mary Lazich was astoundingly vulgar to claim, “Abortions became popular in the ’60s and it was almost ‘the thing’ to do if you wanted to be a real woman.” Her statement demonstrates that the Republican War on Women is actually a Culture War. And certainly a real War the right wingers are waging.

    Where were abortions performed in the 1960s before Row v. Wade? Someone’s kitchen? Mexico? How many medical complications occurred? How many women died? How many went to jail?

    The only good to come from this is that it will galvanize women to get out the vote in 2014 to remove these Radical Republicans from power.

  3. Thank you for saying what, for now anyway, I have not been able to. I had my abortion at 21; like you, I never imagined myself in that position. Like you, I was nearly 19 before I lost my virginity, (in a rape, btw, but that's another story.) Until more of us develop the courage to speak out, this kind of ugliness will continue. I hope to find the courage to write in my own blog, (Just Sayin' on Facebook) my story, and add my own voice to yours. God bless you, you are very brave.

  4. Heather's courage is very humbling.

  5. Brave woman. And no monster. I wish you peace, peace, peace with your decision.

  6. Thanks for your courage to speak out, Heather. Lazich's words were delusional and hinted of self-loathing. We can't have women like her making the rules.

  7. Heather, as a mother and a survivor of having had an abortion, I applaud your grace and candor in writing about this matter. I got pregnant at 17. I was on birth control, my partner and I used condoms. Short of abstinence, we did what we could to prevent a pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant. My partner was 16 (11 months younger than me). My father told me I would be given two choices. I could move out and have the baby on my own or I could have an abortion. He told me that I would be having an abortion. I had to quit show choir my senior year of high school. I was so messed up that my obstetrician when I was trying to conceive my first baby told me I might not be able to have children. I'm a mother to four kids now and there is not a day that goes by that I grieve that child and I wish I'd had another choice, but I didn't. I understand better now where my father was coming from; though if it were my daughter I hope I would present them with all options and stand by their decision. Hang in there Heather. We know more about this than the government could ever care to. It's not their body, it shouldn't be their choice.

  8. Heather, regardless of what other people tell you, you are not a baby killer.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Heather, thank you for putting a face and a heartfelt story to this controversial issue. You have captured and explained so well how a woman struggles with this decision. You are a humble, amazing human being. I have great respect for you.

  10. Wow. I was involved in an abortion decision 30-years ago as the guy who started it. We chose to end it but even to this day I think about it and wonder. My girlfriend was a princess of a woman and I know she has been happily married with children for many years. I am pro-life but it is MY opinion, it is not my right to tell anyone else that they should be pro-life. I respect their decision to manage their lives. I don't need some high school educated legislatures from somewhere up north playing doctor. That is disgusting.
    Thank you Heather. Yes, you are a writer.

  11. So you have to have an ultrasound before you off your baby. BFD.

    Can someone here please explain what "rammed through" means when it comes to legislation? I'm getting the impression that term is used to define any legislation that one is not in agreement with.

  12. If you have to have a background check before you buy a gun bfd.

    Seriously your small government republicans are in every bit of our lives arent you.

    rammed through - is one where the party in power introduces a bill, votes for it on a plv in the same day and has and allows zero discussion.

    Next do you need help with your addition tables?

    1. Also on the subject of ramming legislation through: introducing legislation a day and a half before scheduling the single hearing so that people have little time to examine the legislation and assess what it means (and having that hearing the day just hours after an all-night JFC budget committee session ended is a bonus); shutting down debate in the Senate just because you can; having the Assembly vote the next day; and doing all of this in about 10 days so that the public doesn't have much time to hear about it before it's all done.

  13. You cannot kill a spider, but you gave consent for your fetus to be aborted? Hmmm.. something is not right. You made a mistake and ended up pregnant, that happens with sex. But it would have been a selfless decision to give that baby a chance at life with an adoption.

  14. I love it when rwnj's tell others how to live their lives, yet scream that the government is coming to do the same. Pathetic.

    1. They define Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Meg. The selfishness and complete lack of empathy that RWNJs have is one of the biggest reasons I can't stand them.

      Thank you for your moving story, Heather