I’ve dedicated this blog to my health, fitness and life. As it is in it’s infancy it has been my goal to provide uplifting and motivational content. However, recent events have made me wish to speak up on an important issue close to my heart, an issue that I have been (to my regret) largely silent about. So this post is dedicated to all of the amazing women in my life who empower me every single day and to women everywhere. On Saturday I was in awe of the millions of people around the World who marched for women’s rights. And in spite of that, the House of Representatives in the United States just passed an anti-abortion bill that will hurt women everywhere. Living in Canada, my heart goes out especially to the young women in America.
I know what it is like to have to make that difficult choice but I am forever grateful that it was my choice to make. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have had that decision taken away from me. I am going to share with you a story of my past that only a few close friends and family members know. I was eighteen—young, naive, and in love when I found out I was pregnant. I have never, even to this day, felt fear like that. That fear turned to numbness and disbelief as I imagined all of my dreams slipping away. In my head I think I was in denial for a long time, even after. I thought, “No, this couldn’t happen to me. I’m not that girl.” And yet, it had happened to me and there I was, stuck with an impossible choice. My boyfriend immediately assumed that, of course, we would get an abortion. At the time, I hated him for it and though we continued to date for years after, I never really forgave him. Regardless, he was right. We both had ambitious plans for our futures and were not in a place in our lives or relationship to provide a stable environment for a child.
I had an abortion two days after my nineteenth birthday. I was about eight weeks pregnant at the time. My sister drove me to the appointment and I lived with her for the months following while I recovered and tried to figure out what would come next in my life. I kept it a secret from almost everyone in my life and tried to carry on as normal even though I was struggling with serious depression and PTSD. My relationship was turbulent at best and would never recover from the event. Why? Because I hated that he was the reason I had to go through such a traumatic experience. For a long time, it was a part of my history that I hated myself for too. I saw it as a weakness and as something that I had to hide. The stigma around abortions today is still very present and the recent HR-7 bill will only make this worse.
It has taken me years to gain some clarity about my experience and to come to peace with it. I have achieved so much in the last four years, none of which would have been possible if I had been forced into having a baby at age nineteen. I am on track to getting my Doctorate and I am extremely happy in my life. For me, I know that having a choice has allowed me to work towards my goals and do exceedingly meaningful work. I wanted more from my life than to be a teen mom and that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a mom eventually. When I do decide to have children though, I want to be ready, mature, and with the partner who I will spend the rest of my life with. I no longer feel guilt or regret about the choice we made because I know it was the responsible thing to do. I am not ashamed of my past because moving on from it has made me an incredibly strong person. I think a lot of the pain, trauma, and grief I experienced in the year following actually came from the societal shame that is imposed on all women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. I felt incredibly alone and yet I know now that in Canada I was 1 of approximately 100,000 women that year to go through with the procedure. I wasn’t alone at all so why are we made to feel like we are? Why are we made to feel like we can’t speak up about such an important health issue? Why is it okay to shame women for the choices they make for their bodies?
My current research is in human rights museology and to me, the HR-7 bill is a direct human rights violation. Why should a room full of white men have the power to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies? I have to imagine that if men could get pregnant there would be free access to abortion care globally. I would love to ask these men, if the situation were reversed… wouldn’t you want a choice? I know I’m grateful that I was given that freedom and I want the same liberty for all women. In my eyes, there is no such thing as “pro-life”. This stance is fundamentally “ANTI-choice” and that is a position that I cannot and will not ever get behind. I could keep going but I will leave it at this. Women’s rights are human rights and they should not be voted on.