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    Posted February 7, 2013 by
    Akron, Ohio
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Have you had an abortion?

    Facing a judge at 17 just to control my own body.

    I got pregnant at the age of 17, several months before my 18th birthday. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I wanted an abortion although I had not identified as pro-choice before that point. This does not mean I reached my decision lightly, I thought and debated about it endlessly, knowing that I wanted to be absolutely sure that this is what I wanted, and I was absolutely sure that I wanted to terminate my pregnancy. However, I soon found out that asserting the right to control my own body was much more difficult then I had imagined.

    In order to obtain an abortion under the age of 18 in Ohio I was told I would have to get a judicial bypass in order to not have to tell my parents to obtain the mandatory parental permission. I was also told I should go to a nieghboring county's juvenile court because the judge in my county was known for being anti-choice and denying judicial bypasses to minors regardless of the circumstances. So on my own I looked up the court, called and made an appointment to meet with the judge's balif. During this time I was working part time in a retail store and interning at a local law firm, an internship I had obtained by myself by emailing dozens of firms requesting an opportunity to intern. I was also about to start taking college classes during my senior year of high school. So in order to make my appointment with the balif I had to juggle my schedual while also not raising suspicion among my parents. Seeing as the court was located in a large metroplitan area I got hopelessy lost and when I stopped to ask somone on the street for directions they began to reach in my car and try to get in. After being lost for nearly an hour and almost being car-jacked, I finally found the office and made my meeting. After telling me a bit about what to expect, that I had to prove to the judge I was compitent enough to make a safe and healthy decision for myself, I was put on the judge's docket and given a court date which was difficult to schedule because I was also told the judge was going to be going on vacation soon and would be replaced by a more anti-choice judge. So after working out these details I was handed a large manila envelope by the balif saying that this was for me to read. Later in my car I opened the envelope to see that it was was full of medically inaccurate anti-choice information.

    After this I turned my attention to trying to come up with the money to get an abortion. The one person I trusted to tell (other then the man who got me pregnant) was a friend I had known for over 5 years and immediatly yelled at me and sent my email address to an anti-choice person who lived out of state who attempted to convince me to run away from home and live with them till I had my baby (pretty sure this would have been some kind of illegal action considering I was a minor). In any case, I was left to turn to another family friend who did help me financially, but also felt the need to tell me that she felt I was killing my baby.

    When my court date came I met my gaurdian ad litem who was amazing at clearly explaining to me what would happen and treated me with respect and support which I needed. Although I was very nervous to sit in front of the judge, she made it as painless as she possibly could while still making sure I was responsible and mature enough to understand the decision I was making. After she had satisfied all the questions she had about my mental and maturity level she mainly communicated with me her concearn and saddess that I was going through this alone without any real support. She said that she wished I was in a position to allow my mother to be there for me, to support me. It took everything I had not to let myself show any emotion. I was unable to truly thank her at the time for respecting me as a woman and a young adult to be able to make my own desicions, but also show her emotional concearn about my emotional isolation. During the entire experience of seeking an abortion I would emotionally fall apart at night, crying those viscearl gutteral tears that come from your very core expressing my shame and anger and saddness, but during the day, to keep up the facade, I had to seal all of my emotions inside during the day to function.

    After being granted my judicial bypass I made my appointment with the clinic which meant 3 more mandatory visits which I had to also juggle with my schedual. When the time came to take the pill which would terminate the heartbeat and growth of the fetus (I had the medical rather then the surgical procedure because I couldn't garentee that I would have someone to drive me). It only reinforced that I was doing the right decision. It was not as difficult as I had emotionally prepared myself for. However it was after I had taken the second round of pills that night that I began to feel pain from the cramping. My mother must have heard me getting sick because after I went back to bed she came into my room and held me through the night telling me it was ok and refusing to leave me. I ended up telling her everything and instead of disowning me and telling me I was a horrible person, she was nothing but supportive and loving.

    Since this time I have slowly told those around me and in my family about my expiereinces and it has been met with not only love and support, but with them opening up themselves about thier expieriences with abortion and miscarriage. Although my emotions during the process of obtaining an abortion centered around anger at myself for letting it happen, saddness that I was alone without support or anyone to talk to about it or listen to me my emotions afterward was immediate relief and freedom and happiness that I had control over my future again. I did deal with a large amount of shame afterwards feeling as if I did not desearve to be a woman because I did not have the naturral instinct to have the baby after I learned I was pregnant. However, I truley beilive that if I had not been able to get an abortion, I would have killed myself. I wouldn't have been able to give up my dreams in order to struggle in poverty in my small rural hometown, depression and anger would have overtaken me, this I am sure of.

    I graduated high school and transfered to a college in cleveland and graduated with my BA in political science and women's and studies in under 3 years. During this time I became more active in women's rights and found that escorting patients at a local clinic extremely rewarding because it let me be there for somone who I could identify with.

    I now live in DC and work for a large women's rights organization while I am finishing my master's degree. I would not be living my dream had I not been able to assert my rights over my own body. Rights I was barely able to obtain because of the way laws concearning abortion are set up within Ohio and many other states like it. I will never stop speaking out for women's rights to abortion, particularly young women. I regret absolutely nothing and would make the same decision again if I were in that same situation.
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