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Nineteen

Content Warning: Sexual Assault/Violence/Abortion


Many years ago, someone I love was violently raped. Then, they were three weeks late. It would be years before we would talk about this and the implications it had on their life. While ultimately, their period came, this pregnancy scare had a drastic impact on their wellbeing at the time and to this day. With their permission, I’m sharing a bit of their words (paraphrased in parts) here.


It was the most horrific thing I’ve experienced. Every single day that my period didn’t come felt like I was being violated all over again. It’s such an immense loss of dignity. Feeling like I had no control over myself or my body. But then to relive it? To face the reality that I might hold inside me this abuser’s child? I remember gripping the bathroom sink and staring into the mirror, pleading with whatever higher powers might exist. Begging. Begging for my period to come. Begging for anything but what was a very real possibility.


My friend was 19-years-old. They were (and are) a brilliant, kind, compassionate person. They were studying at university and so vibrantly full of life. While I hadn’t known this timeline as they were living it, it's abundantly clear to me now how, even after all this time, the memory is deeply painful to them.


And the thing was, I knew I would get an abortion. There was just no way I wouldn’t. How could I bring a child into the world at that time… especially one that came from [name redacted]? It was just too devastating. Even though I knew it would be the best choice, I had no idea where to begin. And the shame… I felt suffocated by this obvious and yet somehow still impossible choice that I thought I was going to have to make.


While my friend ultimately didn’t have to make this choice, the agony of the experience is something they still carry with them as evidenced in our recent conversation.


The one thing I can’t imagine doing is going through that without at least knowing I had some sort of option. I might not have known where exactly to begin or what the process was or how I would do any of the things that I was going to have to do. But I at least had a choice. I had control over my body which at the time, was kind of a radical idea considering everything that had happened. I can’t imagine how many people’s lives will never be the same right now. I can’t imagine living in such constant anxiety. I just can’t imagine…


Today is devastating. That’s why I’ve found such compassionate company in being open to having deep conversations and sharing hearts so freely with the people I love. I’d like to thank my friend for suggesting we start this dialogue.


But it’s important to note that today isn’t about these traumatic “worst case scenarios.” It’s also about the 24-year-old who is in a long-term relationship, gets pregnant, and isn’t ready to become a parent. It’s about married 30-somethings who are trying to have kids but have a medical emergency and need to end a pregnancy. It’s about people of any age who aren’t in a safe or financially stable environment to properly care for a newborn.


Someday, I hope to have children. But I hope to do so on my own terms, when myself and my partner feel ready to take that step. To force birth on anyone, at any age, in any circumstance, is incomprehensible and cruel.


This is not a time to be quiet. This is a time to fight. And if tonight, like me, all you have fight for is a few taps on your phone, please consider donating to an abortion rights organization.