My Reproductive Justice Story
I was in the bathroom at home and I held my tears back biting into a towel hoping no one would hear me. I stared down at the pregnancy test and it read positive. I was 16 years old. I got a cold chill down my spine thinking my family was going to disown me. I was terrified. I immediately had horrible thoughts of ending my life because I felt like that was my only option to escape this bad dream. Coming from an extremely verbally sometimes physically and emotionally abusive family I was just so scared. I didn’t know who to turn to. I found myself at my aunt’s house sobbing and asking her for help. She was able to take me to a local planned parenthood and I was given options. I felt like abortion was truly the way to go, but because of my family’s religious beliefs I didn’t have the courage to go through with it so I decided to keep my baby. I told my then boyfriend my decision and he flipped out yelling saying he didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby so I knew I was on my own. He was also verbally and emotionally abusive to me which made things even harder. Several weeks went by and I was still walking on eggshells making sure I was hiding myself from my parents. And one day I got home to a father who was so full of rage I really thought at that moment my life was over. I see my aunt crying on the couch telling me she was sorry and that she had confessed to my parents everything that was going on, she was apologizing to me for breaking our confidentiality, but she didn’t want to see me depressed and emotionally unstable anymore so she told my parents. We drove to my then boyfriend’s house and my parents and his parents had a discussion and they came to the conclusion of marrying us. I completely refused.
The morning after that nightmare my mother was extremely upset due to my refusal and demanded that I get an abortion. I was in disbelief. I told her I wasn’t willing to go through with it because I realized the only thing keeping me in one piece was this beautiful child growing inside me. Things really took a turn for the worst because after I said that she began dragging me into her car by my hair and forcing me to the clinic. I really couldn’t believe the way she was acting it was as if she didn’t know what else to do. Once we got to the clinic and we sat there in silence. My name was finally called and I got up with hesitation, I looked back at her and I remember feeling so much anger. I remember sitting in the office chair so scared not even listening to the process everything felt like a bad dream, but after swallowing those pills I felt relief. Feeling that relief made me feel horrible. I immediately broke down in tears I felt guilty and I felt ashamed. When we walked out of the car we drove home in complete silence. The following day my mother began to tell me that this was something I needed to do and I had to simply get over it and suck it up and be strong. I looked at her in disgust and I was angry with her for a very long time. Not until I became an adult was when I realized that what she did was her way of saving me, although the way she went about it was 100% wrong, I began to realize what her intentions truly were. After all she was a young teenage mother and knew how hard a life with a baby would be. In her own way she was trying to protect me from the life she lived, but although I knew what she was trying to do my heart truly didn’t want to do it, but the quality of my environment showed me I had to do it. The nights after the abortion are the nights I will never forget, the pain and the heartbreak was so hard to deal with on my own. I saw the pieces of my child go down the drain literally and I had no one to talk to. I felt so alone. I wanted someone to talk to, but no one was there. I was a resilient 16 year old who had suffered through sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse as a child so I was so used to dealing with everything on my own so after that horrific shower I put that moment in the back of my memory bank and tried my best to move on. I know it sounds sad, but in many ways these hard moments in my life made me the person I am today and I finally after many years really love myself and truly have incorporated my pain into something positive. What I would want for all the women reading this to grasp from my story is empowerment.
The reason I share my story is because I want all my Latina sisters to know that this does not have to be your story. I choose to tell my story so that you know you’re not alone. There are services out there to help you. The reason I chose to share my story was because I want to help other young girls especially my Latina sisters. We are so stereotyped and judged every day, but we are strong and because of our culture and the oppression women have to face in our culture we have gone through things that make us hurt, that make us feel weak , but we are not. And I want to let all young Latinas know that if you don’t want children you have the right to that choice because it is your own body, and like I mentioned in my story that my abortion decision was indeed influenced and almost forced upon me by my mother, but in the long run my mother was, in her own way empowering me. The boyfriend I had was abusive physically and emotionally and she saw that a future with him was toxic so she did that to save me from myself. So in a way I am sharing my story because I want to empower young girls to do what they feel is right for them. I want all my sisters to stay safe and if you do come across a situation like mine sit down and really think about what you want to do, not what your boyfriend wants to do, or what your family wants you to do. This is your body this is your life you have full control.
Sharing my story with others is really something very hard for me. I always wanted to keep it hidden away I never wanted it to resurface but things change and I grew and I accepted what happened and turned a bad situation into a good one and my goal in life is to help others which makes it easier to share. I think if more women shared their stories they would help empower other young girls and women. If more women shared their story than abortion wouldn’t be so taboo and there would probably be less shame. Just those two reason are why women choose not to share their stories because they feel they will be judged and they are absolutely right especially Latina/Mexican women because we have religion breathing down our necks and it is looked at as shameful and bad. So it makes it hard for us to come forward with our story which is really a shame. We should be proud of who we are and the strong women we have become. Having an abortion does not define your life, you define your life. You have the power, you matter!
Although I was not personally affected by any restricting abortion laws I need to let others know that there needs to be accessible abortion clinics in our communities because there are so many women who can’t afford to have children. First off, we don’t get paid enough especially as Latina women we actually get paid the least at around 54% of the dollar so how are we supposed to support our children. Second, because if we do not have clinics and abortion services available to us some women could possibly take it into their own hands and could get really hurt. Third, Domestic Violence which usually first happens after the woman gets pregnant leaving the women clueless that their partner was like this in the first place, and Fourth some women are forced to stay home and have children which is a type of abuse. People can easily say “well then don’t have sex” but reality is that is not how things happen. In most cases pregnancy is an accident, or women get raped, or women are not receiving the right sex education there are so many different variables, so abortion clinics need to be available for these women who need them.
I really hope my story reaches you all and remember you are not alone. I stand in solidarity with you all. Thank you for reading.
Sincerely, Tu Hermana