Freedom of choice is the burden of responsibility

This column is a look at the controversial choice made by a local couple. The name of woman and man included are kept confidential. The names used are aliases simply created for the ease of reading comprehension. This is to protect the individuals and encourage an open and honest discussion. Honestly this interview isn’t meant to slide your beliefs one way or another. It is an issue many have had to face and few have talked about.

In the fall of last year Michelle, 22, and her long-term boyfriend, David, 23, were faced with a decision that many find uncomfortable even having an open opinion about – either have an abortion or become young parents.

Michelle was surprised when her doctor called her and said she was pregnant. “I went in for a throat infection and had a blood test done,” said Michelle. “My first thoughts were shock, no, no, no, this can’t be happening, the test must be wrong. I didn’t want this to happen and I didn’t feel anything positive,” she said.

“I called David and told him.” Michelle said David had nearly the opposite reaction. At first he swore and couldn’t believe it was happening, but then he actually got a little giddy about the idea of being a dad and was both concerned and excited, she said.

“I, we, were careless and didn’t use any protection. We are young, I guess, and had been together so long. We were very comfortable with each other and nothing had ever happened before.”

The couple had been together for a few years but they both said their relationship was far from healthy and the two were actually in the process of separating when Michelle discovered she was pregnant.

“It created friction between us. He was pro-choice but wanted to keep it. We argued a lot and he said we were killing our kid, his kid ... he’s very open minded about everything but it was hard for him. After the decision was made he supported me through it.”

“I did something irresponsible and I felt that it would be even more irresponsible to keep it. I had already grown attached to it. It would’ve cost a lot to raise a kid. I’m about to get into the real world and it would hurt my career. Not many businesses will hire you if you’re pregnant they can’t tell you that, but they will find an excuse not to give you a job.”

Michelle will be heading into a competitive corporate field soon after finishing college where she believes many companies are leery of expectant mothers because of the excused maternity time and other demands on a new mother. “It would be a lot easier just to hire someone else. It’s wrong, but hey that’s the way it is and you have to deal with it,” she said. “I just wasn’t ready for it. I’m inexperienced and my life is already complicated with issues I just learning to deal with. I would have to grow up overnight into a mom and right now I can’t even handle my current responsibilities. If I have a kid I want to give them what I had and I couldn’t do that right now.” I asked her if she truly considered keeping it and said she had done research on it, visiting stores and investigating things online to get an idea of the obligations and cost.

Michelle says she doesn’t know if she believes in capital punishment but said assisted suicide should be acceptable. “I see some people suffering and I can understand why they would want it,” she said.

Michelle kept her pregnancy and abortion hidden from her family and told only close friends. “It’s not the worst thing in the world. A lot of people keep it a secret; someone you probably know has had one. It’s more practiced than accepted.”

Her main support through the ordeal was a very close friend that had been through an abortion before. “She help me so much through it. She told what it was like and how she had dealt with it and I didn’t feel like a horrible person any more.” I asked if her friend had influenced her decision and she immediately replied, “No. No, not at all. She said it was mine to make.”

I asked, “Did you feel like you were doing something wrong, was there guilt?” “Yeah, I felt like I was getting the quick and easy fix. I cried, but kept telling myself it was the right choice, but a hard choice. Talking about this I don’t like the way things happened but I had to accept it, I wasn’t ready.”

Michelle told me the procedure took only 10 minutes to have and included about 15 minutes of paper work. She is still paying back the $500 bill. David went with her and the couple waited between 3 and 4 hours before having the procedure. “There was like 15 other people getting one done too. While I was there they had me talk to a counselor. She asked me if I was sure and then told me it wasn’t a bad thing I was doing and no one had a right to say it was. She assured me and I felt better.” Michelle describe the abortion as “odd” and “weird” saying, “they just take it out of you... it’s hard to explain the feeling, but it didn’t hurt.”

“If by chance it happened again would you get another?” I asked. At first she replied no but then paused for a moment and said, “I want to say no, but I don’t know. It’s not a form of birth control, maybe a second would be OK but at some point you have to face some personal responsibility.”

“If someone was in your shoes and reading this, what would you want to say to them, Michelle?”

“It’s really rough, but you are not a bad person. People don’t understand the stress behind the decision. You’re not a horrible person whatever you decide. I hid it because I didn’t want people judging my character for something I did that isn’t wrong.”

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