All I want for Christmas is an abortion
I really fucking love abortion. A lot. It’s one of the greatest equalizers between the sexes. Abortion and birth control. The ability to control my fertility and my family is a privilege. No, I take that back. The ability to control my fertility and my family is a basic human right that should never be offered to me or anyone else as a privilege.
Last year, I asked for an abortion for Christmas.
Now let me back up a little. I’m not some defiant firebrand hipster feminist trying to be ironic or edgy by asking for an abortion for Christmas to teach men that they can’t control me. I’m a wife, and I am a mother of two children. And until I asked for this abortion, I had planned my family “right.”
I got married in my mid-20s. We waited a few years to have kids. When we wanted to start trying, we were never given the opportunity to actually try. I couldn’t ovulate. We tried minor medical intervention. But it wasn’t happening. So we started the process of adopting. And we quickly learned that the adoption process was not only expensive but emotionally chafing as hell.
In the middle of the adoption process, the stress of having our lives micro-examined by strangers who were going to decide whether we were deserving of children, and who would then hire someone to pick our child for us, began to wear us down. But one day, during that process, I discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant.
And we were terrified. And we were ecstatic.
And the pregnancy was ectopic.
The doctor didn’t give me an option. I was given a couple of ultrasounds, then sent to the cancer center to be treated with methotrexate to terminate the pregnancy immediately. Because ectopic pregnancies are deadly.
But still, I was doing it right. I was still married. And I had an abortion, but it doesn’t count as an ABORTION abortion. I still got the blessing of all the white Christian male Republicans who believe abortion is evil…because I get the elusive Life of The Mother exception. And an ectopic pregnancy is one of the most, if not the single most, “life in danger” conditions you can have in early pregnancy. I was golden. I was still living a pure, honorable life as a good woman.
Then we nearly destroyed our marriage by working super fucking hard to get pregnant by injecting hormones into me that made me into an unstable, unbearable and perpetually angry woman…IUI (intrauterine insemination, aka artificial insemination) kind of works itself out nicely that way, though. My husband still wanted a baby, but like hell he was going to be alone in a room with me throwing furniture around, so he’d just drop off some sperm in the morning, head into work, and I’d have the doctor put it into me later.
Now maybe fertility treatments are starting to break the rules. But it wasn’t like IVF where I would’ve been creating precious blessed embryos and probably murdering them with my uterus or leaving them to cry for me in a freezer for decades (“MAMA! WHY WON’T YOU IMPLANT US? WE JUST WANT YOUR LOVE AND APPROVAL!”) until some mean scientist threw them out and they never learned to love. This was IUI. The doctor just made me ovulate with science and gave me some sperm. Jesus would totally approve…probably, I think.
But it doesn’t matter. Because that shit didn’t work. And we quit IUI after three cycles. I wanted to feel human again. And few things are as dehumanizing as injecting yourself with SheHulk-serum and having a bunch of strangers hook you up to a machine and pump you full of sperm.
After quitting adoption and fertility treatments, I maybe made an upsetting-to-society decision to not have kids. BUT MY UTERUS CHANGED ITS MIND! And I got surprise pregnant, gave birth to a totally beautiful and healthy 8lb 13oz boy just 2 hours after his due date expired. THAT, my friends, is doing it right. HIGH FIVE!
Two years later, as mandated by the Elders of Proper Family Planning, we started trying again. I got pregnant quickly then miscarried at 9 weeks and had a D&C. Now technically, this is an abortion, but it’s still an okay kind of abortion because The Beating Heart has already stopped. So it’s okay to take my feelings into account and let me decide if I want to have a natural vaginal, non-medical miscarriage or a doctor assisted and drugged miscarriage.
Two months later, I was pregnant again. This time with my daughter.
Now maybe I didn’t do this one exactly right, but I think technically it still passes. I mean, I didn’t bond with her when I was pregnant. I hated every minute of having a wriggling human being taking up my body. I resented her for being in there. Then when she was born, she had to be rushed to the NICU and we failed to bond. I went through a bout of postpartum depression that nearly killed both of us.
We got through it. Because that’s how you do it right. (Also because of Paxil and a loving and supportive family.)
And we decided that we would never have another child. I decided I never wanted to be pregnant again. But that’s okay, because two kids is still doing it right. One boy. One girl. A proper family. My uterus got the societal greenlight to retire.
I had an IUD implanted and went on my way knowing I would never have to worry about pregnancy for another 5 years, and even then, I could just get another IUD.
But then, a couple of months ago, my plan and my family were threatened when that IUD failed.
I was feeling off. Tired. Nauseated. My breasts grew two sizes in two weeks and hurt. I took a pregnancy test and it came back negative.
A week later, I took another one. This one did not come back negative.
This time, I did it wrong. All wrong. The moment I saw that second line, I chugged a giant glass of wine, and I had no doubt in my mind what the next step was: to figure out how to get an abortion…in Texas. I chugged a couple more glasses, panicked because if there’s any place in the US you don’t want to be unexpectedly pregnant, it’s Texas. With the restrictions in place, finding a provider is already difficult. But then you also have to get a transvaginal ultrasound. And there’s a waiting period. And it was the end of the year, which meant my husband was out of days off to take me back and forth to these appointments.
We knew we had to wait until the new year. And the only thing I could possibly think of to want for Christmas was an abortion.
When we talk about abortion, we have a set narrative about what an unexpected pregnancy looks like. She’s young. In school. She doesn’t want her parents to find out. She is irresponsible. She probably needs to take responsibility for her mistake.
But that’s not me. I’m 36. I’m married. I have two kids already. I don’t want and can’t afford another kid…another car…a bigger apartment. I was on the most effective and foolproof birth control method available. I WAS DOING IT RIGHT.
And when we talk about abortion, we talk about the hand wringing. The indecisiveness. The longing to keep the baby. The understanding that the woman already knows a part of her will always regret her decision. There’s pacing around the house. There’s sleepless nights trying to make a decision. There’s waffling. And there’s tons of crying. So much crying. When we talk about abortion, we imagine every woman feeling nothing but profound sadness over the decision she is trying to make. Choosing between herself and her child.
But fuck that narrative. It’s bullshit. It robs women of their right to be viewed as fully actualized human beings. We are not people who are a lot like men but with a psychological and biological mandate to become mothers one day, struggling to figure out if that day is today, worried that if we don’t seize this opportunity, right here and right now, we will never become what we were always meant to be: moms. We are people. Just like men are people. And just like men, some of us want to be parents. Some of us do not.
And we need to stop talking about pregnancy like it’s some kind of fucking alternative to ecstasy. Women who are carrying pregnancies they planned don’t always bond with their babies-to-be. To paint the picture of the unwanted, unplanned pregnancy as one that causes grief because of instant maternal instinct that begins around two minutes after pissing on a stick is harmful to women. It’s harmful to families. It teaches us that mothers like me are less than. We don’t love enough. We’re broken. It’s hard enough to try to nurture and support a person who moved into your abdomen and that you don’t necessarily like. It’s harder when you think not loving them makes you a sociopath.
I was fortunate. I didn’t need to have an abortion because the pregnancy terminated itself. But I can’t tell you how ready I was to have one. I have the family that I want. I have the family that I planned. I have the family that I’ve budgeted for. I have as much family as I can emotionally handle, all with special needs. I hate pregnancy. I hate newborn-hood. I do not want another baby.
Being pregnant and being a parent has only solidified my stance as being not pro-choice but pro-abortion. No one should have to take on the immense sacrifice and responsibility of pregnancy if they are not ready. No one should be pressured into it, and no one should be forced into it. And you know what? Taking responsibility for your actions means doing the responsible thing. It doesn’t mean being forced into having a child as some kind of slut punishment. If having a baby right now is an irresponsible decision, then the only responsible move is to not have that baby.
We need to change the way we talk about abortion. We need more women to understand that knowing, unequivocally, that abortion is the only right decision for you does not make you less of a woman. We need more women to understand that not wanting to be pregnant is not a moral flaw. We need more women to understand that abortions are good and safe and they save lives.
And it is totally okay that, if you need one, you ask for one for Christmas. It’s the best gift you’ll ever get.
Thank you so much for addressing that problematic and false narrative.
Yes, this! In an ideal world, abortion wouldn’t be any more shameful than having a suspicious looking mole removed.
If I were to become pregnant next month*, you’d better believe I’d be on the phone with Planned Parenthood that day scheduling an appointment to get that shit terminated. J and I can barely afford the kid we have now and I absolutely loathed all 9 months of being pregnant. There’s no reason to worry or fret about The Decision. No, it won’t be any more difficult or heart-wrenching for me than scheduling a regular OB/GYN appointment. (I also have the added bonus of living in New York State and literally have a Planned Parenthood abortion provider within walking distance of my apartment. Not that I’d want to walk home after having an abortion, but you know what I mean.)
*Got my period today, HOLLA!
“The pregnancy terminated itself”. Sounds so medical when you say it that way. It was just a pregnancy, you can be happy it “terminated itself” because it wasn’t alive, wasn’t human. Oh, you break my heart. I believe in human rights to the ends of the earth, but not the right to kill others. I’m so sorry this thinking still exists, that a dependent life is not a valued life, that convenience trumps soul. At the very least, I’m thankful your baby died peacefully and naturally so it didn’t have to be violently ripped from his or her mother’s body by her own will.
So, if I need your bone marrow, I get to take it without asking your permission and you’ll stop whatever you’re doing for me? How about a kidney? Perhaps some blood?
In case you missed it, in no other circumstance is a person (living or dead) expected to give up their bodily autonomy for another’s well-being. You could very well die because I didn’t give blood this month, but that is an ethical choice for me to make.
Why is pregnancy any different?
It breaks my heart that you don’t see my personal bodily autonomy as an important thing, but believe that a dependent-on-my-body not-really-a-human should have so much bodily autonomy they can forcefully and rightfully impose their bodies upon others.
Christy, stop romanticizing pregnancy. You have no right to make intimate decisions for other people. In an early termination, the embryo is neither sentient nor conscious, so you don’t need to worry about a “baby” dying “peacefully” or “violently.” You’d be better served – as would the rest of the world – if you’d save your sympathies for the women who are forced to be parents against their will. Terminating a pregnancy for *any* reason goes far beyond mere “convenience.” Telling women that they abort for the sake of “convenience” belittles the act of mothering. Sustaining a pregnancy is a life-altering decision of the gravest import, not something that’s merely inconvenient. Some of us want to keep our lives *exactly the way they are*. and it’s none of your business if we have to abort to do it. My abortion was the smartest move I ever made in my life, and if I had it to do over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.
Elyse, you’re me?
Now, I don’t have the approved pair of boy and girl (you wouldn’t believe how many people tell you you should keep trying for a son. OK, you probably would), and I’m a year younger, but I know that my family is 100% complete. Maybe I can talk my husband into getting a dog some day, but I will sure as hell not have another baby.
Fuck that shit. Having a baby wouldn’t be a good thing for anybody. It would mean the definite end of my college education. It would mean that my husband would be forever burdened with feeding us. It would mean the end of all the nice things we have now, the chances we can afford for our two children now. And it would burden an innocent child with being the ultimate reason for that traiwreck of lives. Talk about a healthy parent-child relationship…
BTW, when my first pregnancy failed I ha a D&C as well. I’m always wondering if I can claim my “Evil Feminazi Abortionist Badge” with that. Because medically, that’s an abortion. Medically, what happened first is called “missed abortion”…
So tell me, Christy, how much time should a fertile female do for having an abortion?
Just wondering why if you’re sure you’re done with kids, why you didn’t get a tubal. I did that after baby #3. Best decision ever.
The IUD is less invasive and has a similar failure rate plus the hormonal control that stops periods. No babies. No periods. No surgery.
It doesn’t stop your periods, but the Essure procedure does permanently block your tubes, and it’s all done vaginally, so no surgery, and (for me) just a little cramping the day of the procedure. Three months later – permanently sterile. For those like me who respond badly to hormones and know they never want to get pregnant, it’s wonderful.
IUD is actually more effective at preventing pregnancy than Essure.
Essure also contains nickel, which I am allergic to, and would cause more complications… including possibly needing a hysterectomy.
FUCK THAT NARRATIVE, indeed. We continue to put up with it, I think in part, because it still feels like progress from the previous dominant narrative. But it’s still a lousy one-size-fits-all story line.
Christy, it is extremely arrogant and ignorant of you to presume to speak for someone else. I’m referring, of course, to the “baby” (i.e. embryo) that you apparently think you mind-melded with at some point.
If you want to stand up for your right, as Christy the Born Human, to force childbirth on unwilling women, then do that like an honest person. Don’t play this coward’s game of pretending like you speak for the fetuses.
I, for one, would rather never have existed than know my mother was forced to carry me against her wishes. I would rather be “ripped apart” right now than see my mother abused like that.
It’s possible that you, personally, are so selfish or so cruel that you would want your mother to endure forced pregnancy and childbirth…but don’t assume all children feel that way.
Hey, I’m the result of a completely planned and wanted pregnancy and I wished my mother hadn’t had me.
People really need to get over their special snowflake idea and accept that personal non.existence (as opposed to suffering and dying) is really not a big deal.
Nobody misses “my child” that I miscarried. It was bad it was traumatic, but for me. The loss was mine. For the fetus? Every chicken I ever ate had more capacity to feel and suffer.
Well said. This is the kind of abortion story that needs to be told more often. Fertility and family planning is so much more complicated than “wait until age X, get pregnant the second you really start trying, enjoy your baby.” This one story covers half a dozen issues I wish they’d covered in health class.
Also, I know this is a minor part of the article but I sympathize 100% with the adoption troubles. Our process took around 3 years from start to finish and I grumbled the whole time about all the inspections and forms and questions and rules. It felt like a punishment for infertility sometimes–if we could just make our own baby no one would care how big our house was or how many fire extinquishers we own.
Over half the women in the US (and I think in the rest of the world, but too tired to look it up) who have an abortion already have at least one kid. I wish anti-abortionists would think that one through.
That’s because it IS medical. Abortion is a medical procedure.
Lovely. I do hope you’re vegan, anti-death penalty, and generally a pacifist, as you’re so keen on not killing others. I am all those things, and let me tell you, if my IUD were to fail, I’d have an abortion on the spot. I’m severely disabled, there’s no way I could look after a child (even with levels of care which I have never received and would be unlikely to receive), I’m probably going to be living in poverty for the rest of my life, there’s a high risk that it would inherit my medical condition, and I wouldn’t give this condition to a living being. I would probably find it distressing, and I’ve always been careful to pick contraception that’s as near as possible to foolproof in order to minimise my risk of accidental pregnancy, but if it did happen, then yes, I would get an abortion.
Elyse, thank you for saying all of this. It very much needed saying.
“If having a baby right now is an irresponsible decision, then the only responsible move is to not have that baby.”
You and I were lucky enough to find doctors who would do the procedure. I had to brawl with my insurance company to get it covered because I was under 30 and “might change [my] mind”. I’d become pregnant at 22 through contraceptive failure and lived in a state that required spousal notification before an abortion; I wound up with PPD (suicidal ideation was the gift with purchase), survived 2 more miscarriages and was TOTALLY FUCKING DONE with this pregnancy gig, but hey, I might totally get into this mommy thing tomorrow!
I’ve not needed an abortion, but with the one pregnancy scare my husband and I had, my first and immediate thought was, “Where the hell am I getting the money for this abortion?” I didn’t hesitate, didn’t spend one stupid second maundering about “would it have his eyes?” just icy terror, and the knowledge that finding $400 as a starving grad student wasn’t going to be easy.
No, all women do NOT want to be mothers. I’m perfectly content being the most awesome aunt in the world. A forced ultrasound would likely result in, “Great, it’s a blurry blob, terrific. Get it out.”
Can I give a shout out for all of the awesome aunts out there? My older sister is child-free and she is an AWESOME auntie. She was really sweet to me during my pregnancy, too– somehow my decision to have a kid has made my relationship with her so much better.
most excellent post on abortion I’ve seen.
Christy you’re complete lack of concern for the woman is horrifying. How dare you reduce this to an issue of “convenience” after reading this piece. What disgusting, selfish misogyny.
All I can say is, Amen. This is a fantastic essay.
I’m in a very similar situation.
*Got my period today, HOLLA!
I like to call my period the Dance of the (Happily) Empty Uterus.
Christy, I’m glad your heart is broken. People like you who don’t give a crap about sentient living women, and cry tears over an anthropomorphized fantasy “baby” should be unhappy, because you’re lousy people.
Heck, I don’t believe your heart is broken – I really don’t think you have one.
Wish we had a like button for comments, Gladys!
Christy not everyone wants to be pregnant, or should be. It was her body, her choice, her life. NOT yours. I bet you’d rather a woman die than get an abortion, huh? She clearly was doing everything to PREVENT an unwanted pregnancy. To force someone to carry inside them a fetus, or anything, to allow it use of their body, without consent is patently morally, ethically WRONG.
I want kids with my soon to be husband, but we have talked about abortion, because pregnancy is still very risky for women. Many things can and do go wrong. If for any reason at ALL I feel I need one, he is behind me 110% ESPECIALLY if my life is in danger or the fetus is abnormal. That is our right to decide. It is every woman’s right to decide if she bears children. It is not for you, nor any other, to point a finger and say.
I had that reaction with my ex. Immediately thought “Where do I go in AZ for an abortion?”
But for me I think it was because of who I was with (the stupid, unfeeling ex) and my life situation at the time. Now, that I’m happily engaged to the most wonderful man on the planet, the idea of a surprise pregnancy is not scary and the two “scares” we had were not met with dread or terror. I simply took Plan B.
Now, if I were to be suprise!pregnant, we’d choose to carry it to term. But I’m thankful I have that choice.
Ugh I have a friend with sever PCOS and they won’t let her have a hysterectomy because she’s “still young” and “could still have children” Let alone trying would KILL her and she doesn’t WANT any.
Unsure when you searching for someone to provide the procedure in AZ, but it’s pretty readily available at the Planned Parenthoods in the valley.
Phoenix has some great private providers as well, some slightly cheaper than PP. Not sure about Tucson. But it isn’t cheap, and if you live outside of the two big cities you are going to have to do some traveling. AZ isn’t tiny.
Thankfully I don’t need those services. Good to know there are providers out here though.
Thank you for this excellent essay. I had a recent back-alleyish abortion in Texas of all places, at 37 years old. I have always wanted kids, I have PCOS…but I was impregnated by a psychopath. If I had not terminated, I would have been tied to him for life. No thank you. I’d rather be childless than tortured until the end of time.
I wonder why those who are pro-choice don’t more fully support the idea of taking the preventative measure of making oneself unable to conceive. Have a hysterectomy, get your tubes tied, have your partner snipped. All much better options than terminating a life that you created. I know people will argue that it’s a clump of cells, and doesn’t “feel” or know anything. But if you are so adamant about not having children then take the necessary steps to not get pregnant. If you don’t want a child then don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to be pregnant then don’t have sex if you are fertile and capable of becoming pregnant. If you REALLY don’t want a child then get your uterus removed. You obviously have no use for it…so trash it, not the baby. If you get pregnant you have an obligation with nature to care for that child. Doesn’t matter what your financial status is, doesn’t matter how much you hate pregnancy, doesn’t matter if it’s inconvenient. That life matters just as much as yours does and should be respected and treated that way.
Don’t want a baby? Don’t get pregnant. Pretty simple isn’t it?
Yes, totally simple. Really, not a concept that ever failed anybody.
And no woman ever had any problems getting her tubes tied or getting that damn uterus removed without having a medical condition that requires it.
What colour is the sky on your planet?
No, I don’t have an “obligation” with nature. Biology is not destiny and “nature” is not a sapient entity with an opinion (not that I’d care about it)
” Doesn’t matter what your financial status is, doesn’t matter how much you hate pregnancy, doesn’t matter if it’s inconvenient. That life matters just as much as yours does and should be respected and treated that way.”
Well, you just declared that my life isn’t worth shit…
Holy shit this spoke to me. Having one perfect child and then finding out I was pregnant again was terrifying. It seemed like the only thing people were telling me was “maybe you should consider birth control”. Birth control fails. In my case it failed twice. Guess I’m exceptionally lucky in the same way the man who was struck by lightning seven times is lucky. “What about getting your tubes tied or a vasectomy for your husband?” Well where I live they don’t deem it medically necessary unless you’re over 30 and absolutely sure you’re finished having children, so it’s not considered an option even if you ask. You’re young, they say. Anything could happen. That anything doesn’t include staring down the barrel of an abortion nurse’s stern gaze while they ask you repeatedly if you’re sure you don’t want to give the baby up for adoption or reconsider keeping the child. After vomiting from stress for a week straight, yes I’m sure. I’m sure I have the child I want and anything more would drain everything from my body as surely as a mortician would at the moment of my death. Thank you for calling it what it is instead of romanticizing pregnancy as the one great thing a woman has to offer the world.