Julie now and at age 23
I was 23, living in San Francisco. I had finished with my schooling and was early in my hairdressing career. I had just ended a two-year relationship, and a month later found out I was pregnant. I wasn't with a partner then and really didn't feel like the right time for a baby. I had not yet thought about whether I wanted to become a mother. I hadn't sorted out that decision at all. So when I realized I was pregnant it was pretty clear to me that I wasn't going to keep the baby.
I don't remember who paid for the abortion, but it must have been me. I was making pretty good money for my situation as a hairdresser and I didn't have a lot of expenses. Compared to my friends at the time who were working random jobs, I was making a good living.
I was very invested in the women's community and the lesbian feminist community. I had been a Women's Studies major in college. And so I went to my women's health care clinic. It felt good because it was a very small office and everybody was really warm and I was familiar and comfortable with the people there.
Afterwards I felt wiped out. I was very emotional about the whole thing. Although I wasn't torn about the decision it felt upsetting, very heavy to me, sort of wrenching even though it was what I wanted to be doing. I felt sad.
But after I had my abortion I did go back to feeling myself an independent woman. Then I met the person I have been married to for thirty years. We were only married a year when I discovered I was pregnant. We hadn't even talked yet about whether having children was going to be part of our lives. I went to Planned Parenthood for my test, still with the attitude, "Oh oh, pregnancy." And then when the woman told me, "You tested positive, you're pregnant," I was shockingly flooded with happiness. And I had not anticipated that. When I told Allen how happy I was, he agreed that we would start our family.
Whatever was distressing about my abortion at age 23 was not something I carried into the future with me. And I feel so fortunate that I had the option to terminate the pregnancy.
I have shared my abortion story with both of my sons who are now 23 and 30. I felt it was important to give them a complete picture of who I am, not just as their mom but as a person. And I parented that way anyway. I'm more than just a mom, I'm also an independent person. I wanted them to know who I was before I met their dad, to have my full story.
When I think about the 23 year old who had an abortion, I can still find her in myself. I would say I am a more solid person, more grounded, a more grown up person now. But I can locate that younger person within me.