I Became Pregnant on Birth Control and Chose Life. But the Supreme Court Decision Still Scares Me.
In 2013, I was 19 years old. I was in college, unsure what major to choose. I babysat for gas money and wrote for pennies on the side. I had just figured out how to do my own laundry. Late bloomer, I know. I didn’t own a single credit card and had never lived on my own. I had to Google how to write a check for the plumber. I went to the grocery store alone for the first time and bought every flavor of Doritos, a pack of Capri Suns and cheap blueberry muffins. My mom never let me get them as a kid.
That same year, I hit it off with a man who sang baritone in my choir. It feels strange to call him a man when he was barely 20 at the time, but he seemed very grown-up to me. He lived on his own, and I was attracted to the freedom of it all — a welcome departure from my sheltered, perfect little life. I knew it wasn’t a healthy relationship, but as 19 year olds often do, I ignored that.
I wasn’t careless, however. I forced myself to go to the OB/GYN for a birth control prescription, my heart racing. It was the first doctor’s appointment I ever went to by myself. And less than a year later, I found myself in the same office receiving confirmation of what seven Dollar Tree pregnancy tests had already told me: I was officially the one in 100 to get pregnant while on birth control.
I Chose to Keep My Pregnancy, and I’m More Grateful Than Ever That I Had a Choice.
Looking back, I want to hug my younger self, sitting alone in that cold, sterile doctor’s office. My parents didn’t know I was even dating, yet my first thought when I got the news was, "I want my mom." Because as grown-up as most 20-year-olds feel, I was not grown up. As I considered what to do, I took a look at the facts:
- I had $11 in my bank account.
- Even a full-time job at minimum wage wouldn’t cover the cost of living in my area.
- I would make less per hour than the cost of daycare.
- I was in no way ready to get married.
- I was depressed and sometimes lacked the energy just to take care of myself.
- The previous week, I had purchased three packs of new socks because I didn’t want to wash the old ones.
- I had just eaten ice cream for breakfast three days in a row just because I was finally old enough that no one could stop me.
Does that sound like a person who’s ready to become responsible for another human life? Let’s not sugarcoat the realities of parenthood. It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it’s not for kids — and I very much still was one.
When I broke the news to my family, to say they were shocked is an understatement. The weeks that followed were the most difficult I’ve ever experienced, but they ended how I knew they would: with my family’s unwavering support. I wasn’t ready to be a mom alone, but I was surrounded by people who could provide what I could not.
Now, approaching 30, I wish I could go back to tell that lost 20-year-old in a paper gown that I am so, so grateful that she chose to become a mom. In the same breath, my heart breaks for every woman who will not have the option to choose since the Supreme Court abortion ruling overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Parenting Is the Hardest Job in the World.
Motherhood has long been called the hardest job in the world, and it’s only getting harder. Half a century ago, 34 percent of mothers with kids under 18 worked full-time. In 2019, 72 percent of moms are employed at least part-time. While part of that is due to improved gender equality and opportunities for women in the workforce, it’s also a necessity.
Most families can’t get by without two incomes. The age at which people are financially prepared to take on the responsibility of raising a child continues to rise. Many millennials have waited longer than our parents did to start families because so few of us are able to afford it any sooner.
It's not because we don't want to. We just want to give our kids the best possible foundation, and building that doesn't happen overnight.
Ending a Pregnancy Is Not a Selfish Decision. It’s a Loving One.
I am writing this knowing that my daughter may one day read it. I chose to become a mom because I knew that I had the resources and support to give her a life full of joy and opportunity. For so many women, that’s not the case. While many single or young mothers do defy the odds, doing so is extremely difficult.
Struggling with extreme financial hardship is common. If you have to work two jobs just to survive, how are you supposed to parent your child at the same time? Who’s helping them with homework, taking them to soccer practice or teaching them how to navigate their first relationships?
For moms who aren’t lucky enough to have grandparents, aunts and uncles pitching in, the answer is no one. It’s not just about money, either. There are myriad reasons why a woman may not be equipped to become a parent, from struggles with mental or physical health, to a history of abuse, to just plain knowing that she shouldn’t be a mom.
Imagine you own a company that needs a new CEO. Instead of waiting for a qualified candidate, you hand the reins to the intern who just figured out how to work the Keurig. The company wouldn’t last a month, and it wouldn’t be his or her fault. It would be yours for asking someone to take on a job they weren’t ready for.
If parenting is considered the hardest job in the world, why would we force women to take it on? To do so is putting not one, but two lives in jeopardy: the lives of women and the lives of the babies they weren’t ready to have.
Pro-life? Whose life is being protected here, exactly?
In 2022, We Should Not Have to Worry About Our Daughters Having Fewer Rights Than We Did.
My heart breaks for our girls. Our girls. From the Texas abortion ban to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, women in the United States officially have fewer protections today than our mothers did, with no constitutional right to abortion. The Supreme Court decision will leave abortion laws up to the states, several of which have already made it especially difficult for women to have access to abortion clinics and already have anti-abortion trigger laws in place that will make banning abortion that much easier.
I looked at my daughter this morning, hosting a tea party in the garden with her best friend. She’s not even 8, but it struck me that there are girls only a few years older than her who are sitting in paper gowns in cold doctor’s offices like I once did. Alone. Only unlike me, they don’t have a choice about what happens next.
I am beyond grateful to be raising my daughter in a state in which her right to choose will be protected, but I know there are many who aren’t so lucky. I wish I could tell my child about the women’s rights movement in the past tense, but I can’t. Instead, I’m telling her about the importance of getting involved. Of advocating for herself and standing up for her own rights and those of others who don’t have a voice.
I pray that my generation and those that come next write a better chapter in the story of women in America because I did not choose life only for my daughter to miss out on making her own choices.