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Sharon's and Geoff's Story

 

In March, 1979, I became pregnant. I was 18, living in Kansas City, Missouri, and going to college at UMKC. There weren't home pregnancy tests back then, so I went to Planned Parenthood to have a pregnancy test. I waited in the office for the results. When the worker came out and told me it was positive, she paused and said, "You don't look very happy about that. Do you want to talk with one of our counselors?" I said, yes, and went into the counselor's office. The counselor began to list my options: abortion (listed first, I remember), adoption, and keeping the baby. She had information on abortion providers and stressed that time was running out if I wanted to have one. She told me their associated doctors could only do abortions within the first trimester and that after that time, getting an abortion became much more logistically complicated (the laws governing mid-term abortions were more restrictive and mid-term abortions cost more.) She repeatedly referred to the embryo inside me as a "mass of cells" and a "blob of tissue." I asked if she had any pictures of what "it" looked like. She said she didn't, but that maybe an organization like Birthright might be able to provide me with some. When I asked her for Birthright's number, she looked in her Rolodex and found she didn't have Birthright's number. She had to pull out the phonebook to find Birthright's number! She then said that regardless of what I decided to do, if there was any chance I might have an abortion, I should make an appointment for an abortion simply because time was running out and they needed to book abortions in advance, since there was quite a lot of demand for them. "You can always cancel it," she told me. So, the same day I found out I was pregnant, before I even left Planned Parenthood, I had made an appointment to have an abortion.

Even though I'd always been pro-life and had always thought (and had told my boyfriend) that if I ever got pregnant I wouldn't have an abortion, I found myself face-to-face with the realities of an unplanned pregnancy. My world felt like it was turned upside down. I wrestled with the decision. I even wrote a letter to my baby apologizing for what I was about to do and telling him or her that I would try to make my life worth the sacrifice I was having him or her make for me. (In retrospect, I realize how ridiculous and horrible that sounds - there is nothing so important in my life that could possibly make such a sacrifice on his part acceptable. But, at the time it was my way of trying to come to terms with having an abortion.)

My boyfriend desperately wanted me to have an abortion. He even offered to pay for it. Looking back, I realize we were on the tail end of our relationship when I got pregnant. He was only 17 and did not want to be a father. There was no talk of marriage. I am sure we would have split up whether or not I had an abortion, and I know that if I'd had an abortion to please him or in an attempt to keep his "love", I would have resented him for the rest of my life. I would have been devastated (but HE would have been relieved.)

I told my parents and asked their advice. My mother thought I should have an abortion, that I needed to finish school and that pregnancy was going to possibly relegate me to a life of poverty. My father thought I should not have an abortion, that it would be taking a human life. I agreed with him, but I felt trapped and scared. It turns out the most helpful advice, however, came from my step-mother (a pro-choice ob/gyn nurse.) She said, "You know my position on abortion [that she was pro-choice], but Sharon, I know you, and I know you couldn't live with yourself if you had an abortion." She then went to her bookshelf and pulled out her nursing books and showed me pictures of the developing embryo. I was stunned: unlike the "mass" or "blob" Planned Parenthood had been referring to him as, he had tiny fingers and toes, a little heart that was beating, all of his organs in place, a brain with brain waves - he was a little, tiny human being... And I had done well in High School biology, pulling an A and CLEPing out of biology in college! But I STILL was in the dark about gestational development and harboring misconceptions when it came to visualizing the tiny being growing inside me. He was NOT the size of a pencil dot as I had been imagining!

I got back to Kansas City and called Planned Parenthood and cancelled the appoint - but (and this is SO important for women in similar situations to know) for a brief moment I remember the thought flew through my head, 'My canceling is going to inconvenience them - after all they already have the appointment set up and everything.' Of course, as soon as that thought flashed through my head I realized out utterly ridiculous it was, and how incredibly dangerous it was. I had always thought of myself as a pretty strong woman, but here I was, for a brief moment, WORRYING that my canceling an appointment with them to kill my baby might inconvenience THEM!! Women are acculturated to please, to be nice and accommodating. That can REALLY backfire when they are in a crisis pregnancy. I worry that many other women have gone through with abortions, against what they wanted in their hearts, simply because the appointment was already made, or because their boyfriend wanted them to, or because of some other external reason... (Both pro-choicers AND pro-lifers should be able to unite on that one: that women should never feel they HAVE to have an abortion for someone else.)

I look back at that hard decision and words cannot express how incredibly grateful I am that I did NOT go through with the abortion. My son is one of the most loving and kind young men I know. He's smart (a National Merit Scholar!), funny, thoughtful, generous (when he was 12, he used all of his $10 winnings from a contest to buy a birthday present for me...) I cannot imagine (nor do I want to) a world without him in it. I've had more children, but I know that not a single one of them could replace any one of them. They are all so unique and all such precious gifts. We are all - from conception to old age - on a continuum of growth: changing yet fundamentally (and genetically) the same from conception to death.

It's a woman's own unique child that is nestled in her womb, whether her pregnancy is planned or unplanned. Her baby has no one but her to defend and protect it. I realize my son was completely at my mercy when I was contemplating abortion. His life and all that he has become was hanging in my hands. That is a chilling thought.

 

Here are some pictures: the first was taken at the hospital - he's about one-day-old. In the next one, with the hat, he's 2-months-old. In the next two, he's about 9-months-old. He's 2-years-old in the next two. He's 19-years-old in the last one. The last picture is one of all of my children (so far ;-) - Jessica and Georgia are on the back row, Sydney, Doug and Andrew are on the second row, and Guthrie and Geoffrey are on the bottom row.

 

geoffreynewborngeoffreywithhatgeoffreycrawlinggeoffreyonlapgeoffreywithtoygeoffrey2yrsgeoffrey19yrs

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