I grew up Baptist. I parroted that abortion was murder and homosexuality was a sin without having the slightest experience with either topic. Sixteen was my age of reason. A pastor reduced my gay friend to tears and I began to realize that the Church was not the loving entity it seemed to be, and the people in it were about as far from living like Christ as one could get. It was the turning point that led me to leave the Church. A wise man later told me that the first step to becoming an adult is letting go of all of the beliefs that you were conditioned with, analyzing situations and facts, and making up your own mind. I feel that this was my shift into adulthood.
Though I’d been subject to a “pro life” assembly at my public school in junior high that I had walked out of because I sensed that the information being provided was largely false or highly exaggerated, I didn’t give much interest to the abortion debate until later in my teenage years. I had a close friend, I was two years her senior. I didn’t particularly agree with her lifestyle and I couldn’t always talk her out of bad decisions, but I tried to protect her the best I could. I found after a few months of close friendship that a lot of her destructive behavior was brought on by her abusive father. The abuse was reported but couldn’t be proved, so it only worsened.
My friends parents were gone the night she had called me, begging me to come over after several months of not talking to me. The second I walked into her bedroom, I gasped and my heart started racing. I will never forget the vision of her halfheartedly slumped against her bed. There was blood everywhere along with several puddles of vomit. At first I thought she had slit her wrists, but I saw no gashes. Plus the majority of the blood was on her jeans, and the comforter on her bed. A bit was on her fingers, and smudged across her face. It was like something I only imagined I would see in a horror movie. She looked up at me with pupils that were tiny little specs, her lips tinged with blue. Apparently, she didn’t remember calling me because she had no idea why I was there. After my split second of shock, I fell to my knees at her side and grabbed her hand. It was cold and clammy, and her breathing was frighteningly shallow. I called 911. They had me stay on the phone until they arrived. A minute or two before the ambulance pulled up, she began convulsing. They had me check her pulse, which was faint and seemingly fading. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that these were the last moments I would ever see her. I stroked her hair, held her hand, and talked to her, though she wasn’t really responsive. Later that night, I found out from a mutual friend that she had found out she was pregnant. Since she was a minor, parental consent was involved to obtain an abortion. Besides, the closest clinic was nearly four hours away. She had tried to talk to a friend’s parent, who got her the court papers and tried to help convince the judge to grant a bypass. He denied it, saying it would only be granted if she could prove the abuse. As she had already painfully learned, this was impossible. So she did the next best thing; she stole a fifth of vodka and her step mom’s Percocet.
I saved my friends life that night and vowed to fight for justice so that no friend would ever have to witness what I did and no woman would ever have to experience what she did. And so I have. I have lobbied my legislators to protect women’s reproductive rights and have worked to elect pro choice representatives nationwide. I have volunteered on the front lines of the debate as a clinic escort. I have stood in the pouring rain to ensure that every woman could enter my clinic and make the choice that she felt was best for her. I have had holy water thrown on me and have been called every vile name in the book, but still I trudged forward. I have helped women who felt coerced obtain resources to parent or place for adoption. I have counseled women, even held their hand while they cried after an abortion. I am a volunteer support specialist for women who experience complicated emotions after an abortion. I had an abortion and I have no shame in sharing my story. Now that I am ready, I am a proud mommy-to-be, starting a family by choice, not by chance.
I may not have a medical degree. I may not perform the surgeries (though I have witnessed several.) But I have dedicated my life to protecting the rights of my fellow women and giving them the opportunity they were promised upon being born into this country: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I am Dr.Tiller.