In reality, abortion is anything but dirty and anything but wrong. It can be life-affirming, and can restore hope and a sense of possibility to women who find themselves in the position of needing one.
I know that this is true, because I had one.
I was just 19 years old and about midway through college when I found out I was pregnant. There was absolutely no way I could afford to raise a child. I was already working two jobs, which hardly covered enough money to support myself.
But it wasn’t just my finances that drove my decision to end my pregnancy. In my heart, I knew one thing to be true: As a teenager barely out of childhood myself, I simply was not ready to take on the monumental responsibility of becoming a parent.
From that perspective, terminating the pregnancy, while a difficult act, was not a difficult decision. A few days after my positive pregnancy test, I visited a reproductive health care clinic not far from campus to have an abortion.
Looking back more than 30 years, I have no doubt that I made the right choice. I am grateful for that teenage version of myself who had the wisdom and the courage to make that difficult decision. And I’m even more grateful that I had the freedom to exercise that choice.
Like many faced with similarly difficult options, I had a life ahead of me, a career and endless opportunities that eventually put me in a place where I was one day ready to start a family. And when I finally became a mom, it was among the most wonderful, meaningful experiences of my life.
I have never questioned that pivotal choice of some three decades ago, and, to be honest, I never intended to share my story publicly. But with the Supreme Court poised to upend the constitutionally guaranteed right to an abortion in the United States, a right women in this country have had for a half-century, I felt it was time to tell my story.
My story is like that of millions of Americans who made this choice about their own bodies. And now that choice is under threat, after a leaked Supreme Court majority opinion showcased to the nation the very real likelihood that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Suddenly, for many Americans, our worst fears — fears that this right might be taken away — have become an alarming reality.
This is personal for me not only because of my own abortion, but because I’m the mother of a trans woman. My daughter is terrified that if Roe is struck down, her civil rights will be next. She has seen Republican-led state legislatures attack and outlaw the rights of trans Americans, just as they have done with reproductive care.
Last year, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act by a vote of 218-211, with every Democrat except one voting to codify abortion rights protections into federal law. Democrats control both chambers in Congress, as well as the White House, but the Senate bill Wednesday fell well short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster.
Ahead of the Senate vote, my office circulated a letter to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who ended up voting against the measure — and to all Republican senators, amplifying my personal experience with abortion and underscoring the stories of countless women who have had abortions in the states they represent. As we press ahead in the fight to keep this vital, cherished constitutional right, I will continue to share the stories of the millions of women who have had an abortion — including my own.
Here’s what has to happen now: We have to use every tool in our toolbox to get this legislation across the finish line. That starts with eliminating the filibuster. If we abolish that Senate rule, the Women’s Health Protection Act would need 50 votes to pass the Senate, as opposed to 60.
The Senate measure on Wednesday got 49 votes, meaning we would need just one more courageous senator for the measure to pass in a filibuster-free Senate. And if we can’t find one, I can promise you voters will take notice in November and ensure that they’re present in the next Congress.