Unintended Consequences

at 12:35 AM

At 22, I was a college senior with an acceptance letter from the top graduate school in my discipline. I was also pregnant. I had been dating my 19-year-old boyfriend, Joe, for less than three months. We were careful but the pregnancy occurred anyway.

No longer hypothetical, my right to choose suddenly felt more complex.

I could move 3,000 miles after graduation and live with my parents and the baby, but not with my boyfriend. I could scrape by; working long hours at whatever job I could find and live near my boyfriend, with my child confined to daycare. Both these choices meant that I would also have to give up graduate school.

I also knew that even if I decided while pregnant to put the baby up for adoption, I would change my mind at birth.

I chose to have an abortion.

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The decision was not made lightly. I had two doctor appointments, many tearful discussions with my boyfriend, parents and friends and a conversation with a pregnancy counselor.

Interestingly, it was the counselor that solidified my decision to have an abortion. My college's health center gave me a list of local resources. I called a pregnancy crisis center not knowing it took a pro-life stance. Instead of receiving empathy, I felt pressured.

The counselor started by telling me that my needs would be met if I continued the pregnancy. When I questioned medical costs and housing, she simply told me to come in for an ultrasound so I could see my baby. I told her I'd already had an ultrasound. Her response was that 90 percent of couples that have an abortion break up. This scare tactic angered me, not only because it is not true -- the data suggests that break-up rates are the same with or without an abortion -- but also because I felt manipulated. My conversation with the counselor did help me put things in perspective, although not as planned.

I made a tough choice that was right for those who matter in my life. My husband, Joe, and I finished our educations, became financially independent and grew up enough to enjoy parenting our five and three-year-old daughters.

With a Perspective, I'm Sahana Baker-Malone.

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Sahana Baker-Malone is a pediatric occupational therapist and birth doula. She lives in Redwood City.

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