I was unlucky.
But that’s what happened to me, when I was a month shy of 22 years old with a year left of college and a pro-life boyfriend — throwing up on the Metro, then in the line for the chicken shawarma food truck a few days later, and at the baseball game on the hottest day of the summer, when I ended up in the first aid station with a bag of ice on my head while Zack Greinke outpitched Max Scherzer to shut out the Nationals, 5-0.
I went to the gynecologist to check that nothing was awry. “I think I still have strep throat,” I told her as she took the tongue depressor out of my mouth and began poking and prodding at my stomach, and inside me.
“I think you are pregnant,” she responded. When I called my boyfriend with the news — and informed him of what I intended to do about it — he told me that he was going to throw up. He’d “bear this cross” forever. My relationship was over after that.
So in a lot of ways, yes, I was unlucky. But in so many others, I was lucky as could be.
I was lucky to live in D.C., where the Planned Parenthood was under construction but others in the two neighboring states were each a 20-minute drive away. I was lucky to have a Visa with a line of credit to cover the $500 procedure.
I was lucky to have friends who asked how they could help instead of telling me “this must be so hard”; I was lucky to have a surgeon who said, “You got pregnant with an IUD? That sucks.”
I was lucky to have my mother who, when I told her I needed an abortion, replied with these words: “I’ve had two of these.”
“Who supports your decision?” a counselor asked me in the minutes before the procedure. I started listing people, but I was interrupted. “So, everyone.”
The whole thing took five minutes. Afterward, my mom and I went and got a sandwich.
When people talk about abortion, they talk mostly about the ones with a harrowing backstory. The decision is unavoidable, because the mother’s well-being is at stake or her ability to afford raising a child nonexistent. The decision is difficult, because there’s an emotional attachment to even the potential of a life. The decision is heart-wrenching, or at the very least fraught. But there are so many more cases like mine, where a choice is just a choice, and nothing more. Perhaps in that regard I was fortunate, too.
I was lucky, because I wasn’t the 15-year-old in the waiting room whose sweatshirt swallowed her up; or the woman who didn’t have a ride home after sedation; or the couple who lingered nervously at the counter asking about insurance. Because more people wanted to support me than to stop me, and because, most of all, the law allowed this — not only where I was, but everywhere.
That last part, the law, didn’t feel like luck then. Roe v. Wade seemed to be a part of the country: to the laywoman, a guarantee in the land of the free, and to the legal scholar, a so-called super-precedent. Of course it mattered, as conservative legislatures chipped away at the law, where you lived. Of course it mattered how much money you had, or whether your partner attempted to prevent you from choosing at all. But you had at least the bulwark of a half-century-old case to make luck a little less important.
While an unintended pregnancy will always remain to some extent a matter of chance, the ability to obtain an abortion never should have been and never should be. The rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, the employed and unemployed or educated and uneducated and on and on shouldn’t have to worry about where they’ll go, or what they’ll pay, or whether there’s a way out.
Now, thanks to a handful of justices on the Supreme Court, the futures of women in the United States will depend on a roll of the dice. We’re either lucky, or we’re not. I know a little bit about both.