Featured Writer: Caroline O'Riordan

The Election Edition


Thank God I Got My Abortion Out of the Way This Summer!


Controversial headline? I’ve wanted to make this joke since Trump got elected, and I’ve wanted to tell people about my abortion since I had it in late May. See, there exists a rich history in comedic storytelling of explaining exactly why jokes are funny, and...it’s a funny joke because once Trump becomes the President of the United States of America in January, I might not be able to get an abortion, so good thing I got that out of the way, right? Abortion…check! Such a relief.

It’s funny because it doesn’t work like that!

My choice to have an abortion is one of the most politically entangled decisions I’ve ever had to make. I have been pro-choice for as long as I can remember, though I did waver a bit when they passed out fingernail-sized plastic fetuses in CCD. That shit was fucked up, but could genuinely make you feel like killing speck sized embryos is not right. I snapped out of it though once I got confirmed and have now considered myself an atheist for quite some time.

I’m white. I’m 26, liberal-college educated, and I live in Brooklyn. I believe in socialism. My family is pro-choice. I have a monthly metrocard and that’s how I get around. I work 45 hours a week at a photo agency in Manhattan. At the time of the abortion, I hadn’t worked my first three months, so I was still on Obamacare through the New York Marketplace. Apart from maybe being a Manhattan socialite with a private hospital wing, I am absolutely the BEST candidate to require access to abortion.

I’m just going to take you through this. My abortion!

The circumstances of the “conception” were this, because, politically, I know that matters to a lot of powerful white people: I was on the pill and had been for 8 years. I lived with my boyfriend and we had been together for two and one-half years at the time. The pill failed! Sorry, bro. I did not think that could really happen either. But it did.

After about 5 days of missed period anxiety I took the test on a Wednesday night after work on my way to meet my old coworker Stephanie for dinner before a comedy show. The two positive tests I took in the bathroom of the Mexican restaurant were so mind blowingly incomprehensible to me that I got drunk off margaritas and participated in the show as an audience member. NOT cute. But actually it was kind of cute…

I went home and broke the news to my boyfriend Ryan, who was so incredibly supportive because he is The Best. The next morning I called Planned Parenthood and was told I couldn’t get an appointment until Monday afternoon. Anxious and confused, I took a paid sick day on Thursday, then tried to go into work on Friday but had to leave at noon because I Googled why I was still experiencing cramps, and it was because my uterus was expanding—which I could not handle—so I went home. That weekend I volunteered at the Del Close Marathon, the major annual improv festival at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I was pregnant at DCM!!! I watched my favorite improvisers and drank all weekend.

I stayed home from work until my appointment on Monday because I could not come up with some medical excuse that would explain popping in and out of work, especially during the first month at my new job. I then found out during the appointment that taking the abortion pill actually required two steps: first, you take one pill of mifepristone, which blocks the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and pregnancy cannot continue. Hey! This was all news to me! I had expected to be back at work on Tuesday. But, no, I had to wait another 24 hours to take the second pill, misoprostol, which essentially makes you miscarry. You have to put 4 pills in the sides of your cheeks and wait 30 minutes for them to dissolve, because they’re so strong that if you took them all at once that you’d just throw them up. So Tuesday went by as I waited at home in bed to take the misoprostol. Ryan came home from work early and I took the pills around 4pm.

What followed were the most painful 8 hours of my life. I’m incredibly fortunate to have never before experienced physical pain to this extent. Jonathan Feinman plowed his head into my face in 10th grade and broke my nose, but that was more bloody than it was painful. This, however, was equal parts both. At Planned Parenthood they warned me I would bleed a lot. The incredibly warm and informative doctor told me that blood clots the size of a lemon could come out of me. My cat’s name is Lemon, so that was a major bummer to hear. She was not wrong though! At one point during this 8 hour pain train, during which I oscillated between watching the OJ Simpson ESPN documentary and gasping in pain, I went to sit on the toilet to cry and bleed. And when I stood up a glob, really, the size of a lemon fell out of me and plopped right onto my white tiled bathroom floor. I screamed “oh my fucking god!” and laughed because it was the gnarliest thing I could ever imagine happening in my life. And yes, I had to pick it up with tissues in my hand and throw that big ol’ bloody blob down the toilet. Ew!

Anyway. See? Abortions have their ups, but mostly downs. And I think it may be clear where I’m going with this. Abortions are FUCKED UP in nature. They require time—almost a week if you don’t know what the fuck is going on. They require money—mine cost $600 because I had to pay completely out of pocket. Well, hold on, wait, actually, that was about it for me. Time and money. And half a day of excruciating physical pain. Can you imagine? Only that?

There are girls and women who live in states like Texas that are closing abortion clinics and making patients travel hundreds of miles to receive treatment that they are legally entitled to. And the Texas politicians forcing these clinics to close are so misinformed that they think that abortion procedures are like c-sections and require women's’ abdomens to be cut open! I, on the other hand, hopped on a bus that picks up right in front of my apartment and rode it one mile to the Planned Parenthood in Boro Hall. My boyfriend came with me. He bought me ice cream and Gatorade and went with me to Duane Reade to pick up the prescriptions. He paid half of the bill and bought condoms to use for the next few months.

There are women that have a relationship with a god and believe that having an abortion will send them to hell, and they still have an abortion. There are girls who are raped and have to get an abortion because carrying their rapist’s child would tie them to their rapist for the rest of their life. There are women who already have children and love them more than life itself, but cannot financially or emotionally support another child. And there are women who are living in poverty, who just cannot have a baby right now. And some of these women may be doing it all by themselves, without a boyfriend or husband or family member to support them emotionally or financially at all.

I do not believe that I ripped life away from a child. It was a 5 week old embryo. I don’t know the sex, though Planned Parenthood asked if I wanted to. Bringing a child into my world would have absolutely destroyed my life. And stop—this isn’t about whether or not I would have loved it. This is about me, my goals, my creativity, my inspiration, my relationships, my timeline. I have one life. One fucking life! And this is where this all becomes extremely political for me and for women of the pro-choice movement. What about me? These are the three words I would so love to ask Donald Trump and his Republican anti-choice cohort. What about me? My grandparents, parents, and community have devoted thousands of hours and dollars into making me the strong, independent, self-sustaining, contributing member of society that I am today. What about me?

I know that every written and uttered sentence is being made into a meme today, but I 100% stand behind the succinct and catchy observation that “Republicans only care about children until they’re born.” That, in my eyes, is true. If I carried that embryo to term I would have been met with hurdle after hurdle of medical bills, child care costs, and lost wages. A Donald Trump presidency would have done nothing for me and my new family. Ryan and I would be left with our baby and our $1,950.00/ month apartment to fend for ourselves on welfare or drain our parents of their retirement savings. I could go on. We were not ready. I am not even ready to be an adult as is. I struggle to earn a fair wage and save, along with the rest of my generation, but that’s another story.

So, please. Pro-lifers. Please! Listen. And stop! Stop believing you have any right to our bodies and our lives. My story only took up about a month of my life. I went home for the 4th of July and couldn’t swim in the ocean because I was still healing. I had to borrow some money from my parents. The other issues on the table with a Donald Trump presidency can and will have far greater impacts on people's’ lives. Climate change. Forced deportation. A Muslim registry. Police brutality. Or the attack on Planned Parenthood.


Caroline O’Riordan

Trish NelsonComment