I will forever remember the moment I found out Roe v. Wade was overturned. I was working at a summer camp in Georgia where I had little cell service, and likely wouldn’t have known the news for a few more hours if I hadn’t been approached by a co-worker who shared it with me. At that point it was almost no surprise, considering the draft decision had leaked weeks before. I already knew the inevitable was on the way before the decision was officially released, but I still felt shocked and betrayed nonetheless. I cried the entire drive home.
Two weeks later, I found out the ramifications of that Supreme Court decision were much more cruel and ironic than I had imagined. I had begun to experience several unusual symptoms. Every time I brushed my teeth and tongue, I’d feel tingles in my chest and spine. Strong smells, whether good or bad, made me nauseous, and I’d usually throw up. Although I was exerting more energy than I usually did, my hunger had disappeared, and nothing seemed as appetizing as it used to.
It wasn’t until the last day of my summer job, on what was supposed to be an exciting day, that I finally put everything together. While discussing the odd symptoms with a friend, I decided to do a quick Google search. There was really only one explanation for what I was going through. Before I was even able to get my hands on a test, my gut told me everything I needed to know. I cried in my friend’s arms, terrified. At 21 years old, just a month before starting my senior year of college, I found out I was pregnant.
The news of my pregnancy came during the period after Roe was overturned in June and before Georgia had come to a decision regarding a statewide ban. Even without an official abortion ban in place, it was blatantly obvious there would be one coming. So once the shock had partially worn off, I quickly began looking at my options, knowing I was racing against the clock.
I was too afraid to call my own gynecologist, since I wasn’t sure of her office’s views and how my request would be received. I contacted Planned Parenthood to find out they had already halted all abortion services in my state. There were no abortion options available in my city. Eventually, I found an option for an at-home medical abortion — I’d have a video consultation and a prescription would be sent to my door — but was met with an 11-week-long waitlist, which was out of the picture entirely due to how far along I was.
Through lots of cautious research online, my mother came across a small clinic about an hour from my home that offered both medical and surgical procedures. We were able to book an appointment almost immediately. My mom and I drove over an hour to a small building with no clear labeling or signage. The windows were tinted so that you couldn’t see in, and if I hadn’t triple-checked the address, I would’ve thought the entire place was abandoned. There were three bullet holes in a window that were visible from inside the waiting room, and the more I found myself looking at them, the more uneasy I felt.
I was able to meet with a very kind doctor, though, and just five days after I learned of my pregnancy, I took the abortion pill.
I took the pill on July 19, when I was five weeks and six days pregnant. On July 20, when I would have been six weeks pregnant, my home state of Georgia made abortions illegal after six weeks. On July 21, I received a voicemail from the clinic I was waitlisted for saying they could no longer take clients in Georgia.
Now, more than three months later, I still feel the same sinking feeling in my chest as I did when I first listened to that voicemail. I know I wasn’t the only person who received that call that day, but I was likely one of the few who was lucky enough to find another option nearby.
My mother repeatedly told me how lucky I was to find out I was pregnant at such an early stage, since many other people often don’t find out until after six weeks of gestation. Even though I had been in tune with my body and quickly noticed something was wrong, had I figured out I was pregnant just a day or two later, I wouldn’t have been able to get an abortion safely in my home state.
I’ve always thought if I ever did choose to have children, it would be when I was ready. I wanted to make that decision and commitment when I was older, settled, and emotionally and financially stable — factors that did not describe my state when I found out I was pregnant.
I am extremely fortunate and will be forever grateful to have had the option that I did — to decide what I wanted to do with my body. Yet I understand my privilege and how many other people don’t have the same experience, either without support or without the right to decide. Even though I will likely always consider this to be one of the most difficult periods of my life, I still feel guilty knowing how simple it was for me compared to so many other people across the world.
My heart breaks for the young people out there who may be experiencing something similar to my story, or who did in the past. If you or someone you know is going through an unplanned pregnancy, just know there are still options available to you. You’re still able to get a safe and legal abortion in the United States, even after the six-week mark. There are people and organizations that can and will help you with whatever decision you end up making. Your body is your choice, and there are ways to receive support and assistance, regardless of what you may choose to do. You are loved, you are valued, and your health and well-being should be of utmost priority, regardless of what the Supreme Court and anti-abortion activists may argue.
Read the rest of the Her Campus Our Bodies, Our Rights project here.