"I was 20, living a great life with a great boyfriend. I liked dancing with friends, Sunday meals with my family and traveling as much as I could. I lived life pretty large and was extremely social, except I seemed always to be battling with self esteem issues because of a cystic acne skin problem.
Cystic acne is a skin disorder characterized by large painful lumps that pop up anywhere on your face or body. I had quite a few on my face, back and chest, all the time. They were painful, embarrassing and almost always scarred. The only real treatment from the dermatologist was a strong medication called Accutane. I remember the pill packaging had little pregnant women beside each pill with a line through them signifying you should not get pregnant. Monthly blood work was necessary to ensure no liver damage and as many precautions to prevent pregnancy had to be taken. At the time I struggled taking birth control pills so we relied on other forms of contraceptive. I had just finished my second course of Accutane when I discovered that I was pregnant.
I couldn't believe this was happening. Doctors recommended being off of Accutane for 4 weeks before conceiving and by our calculations I had only been off it for about 2 weeks when I had conceived. I was shocked. I cried a lot. I couldn't believe I had let this happen. I went back to the dermatologist to discuss with him and was met with a look and attitude of disbelief that I was in this situation. I was told, "You cannot have this baby. The birth defect rate is way too high."
Over the next two weeks I met with 2 other doctors, looking for some kind of hope. Maybe another opinion that things might be okay and the pregnancy could continue. Each appointment I was met with the same reaction. I felt they thought I was crazy for even looking at the option. There was a complete lack of understanding from everyone I saw and met. It was as if nobody could understand why I would even consider choosing life. I was left feeling there was no other option. I felt I didn't have a choice. I felt that life was not a choice for my baby.
I met with the OB that was to perform the abortion and he inserted a device that slowly opens your cervix the day before the abortion is to be performed. I asked if it was going to hurt and he said just a pinch. It was extremely painful and he just shrugged me off. I remember feeling disconnected and numb when I showed up to the hospital the next day. I sat in a room full of women. I had no idea what they were there for. They all were chatting and laughing and I remember thinking they can't possibly be here for the same reason I am. A nurse walked me into the operating room. I climbed onto the bed where they strapped my arms and legs to where they needed to be. At this point tears were streaming down my face. Every part of my body was screaming no but I felt emotionally frozen and numb. The anesthesiologist looked at me and asked me why I was crying. I just turned my face away. One of the nurses then grabbed my hand as I drifted off - the first and only kind gesture.
I woke up after the procedure, got dressed and walked out of the hospital where my boyfriend met me to pick me up. I remember feeling completely empty. I don't even remember if I cried after that. I did not receive a phone call from my OB, no follow-up call from the hospital, nor a call asking if I needed any support. There was no follow-up appointment. That was it and I was expected to move on.
I buried inside me what happened. I had a son a year later, got married and just acted like it didn't happen. However it did happen and not a day goes by that I don't think about it. I received therapy years later for the trauma. I forgave myself however will never forget.
I don't know what would have happened if I had been given an option to choose life or even if I had just been met with compassion. I feel that sometimes women feel they don't have a choice so is abortion really a choice at this point? The only thing I do know for sure is that I was treated very poorly by a broken system that just brought me in, ended the pregnancy and then spat me out again.
I don't want any woman to be treated as I was. I believe in life and the life of an unborn child, however I also believe in the dignity and respect of all women to be treated well. I believe in compassion and love.
Today I am blessed with two beautiful kids, 17 & 7, and I'm pregnant again at 40 and couldn't be more excited. My life has gone on and it's been wonderful. However there is a deep scar, a reminder of a baby who didn't have a chance at life and it's mother who was treated poorly during one of the most difficult times in her life." -Jaime