A guest post by an author who wishes to remain anonymous.
I remember waking up on my 23rd birthday and deciding today was the day I had to acknowledge the pregnancy I had been carrying since February — my birthday is in August. Although I had been raised in a solidly pro-choice family, I was incredibly ashamed of myself for getting pregnant and found that denial was the easy out. I tried everything I could in the beginning to force miscarriage; I remember hitting myself in the stomach, getting so drunk I would hold a trash bag to throw up into and then drink more, and taking every medication I had in my little apartment in the hopes that something would work. Nothing did.
My boyfriend was living in another state and I will never forget the phone call I made from our little apartment to tell him the news. I’m lucky today that I can call him husband; it was this pregnancy situation that helped me see what a wonderful man he is. After hearing about the pregnancy, he resigned his internship and jumped on a plane the next day to come home. We went to our local clinic and, of course, were told I was too far along for them to help. 24 weeks pregnant. 24 weeks.
We went to see a later abortion provider 70 miles away and were again told no. We traveled three hours to another clinic, but I was just days beyond their limit. Another no. But they had one last little tiny bit of hope. As we left the clinic one of the women behind the counter handed me a card with a name and a phone number written on it: Dr. George Tiller, 316-684-5108. Little did I know, this card would change my life.
My boyfriend and I made the long drive back home and made the phone call. The woman on the other end of the line was one of the kindest, most caring individuals I had ever spoken with. She didn’t start the call asking how far along I was or how much money I had, she asked if I was okay. She walked me through the scheduling process with care and love, and checked in with me multiple times in the days before we again made the long trip to Dr. Tiller’s clinic.
I was terrified as I rode in the car, couldn’t sleep the night before we went to the clinic for the first time, and watched my hands shake as we walked into the clinic for the first time. We couldn’t afford to pay the cost of the abortion on our own but were lucky my parents agreed to help us with funding; many women don’t have this luxury. Later I would learn of many funds throughout the United States who exist solely to help women pay for their abortions.
From the moment we checked in it was clear this was the place I was supposed to be. Looking across the room at the faces of the people who were there with us: husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, mother and fathers with their daughters, I felt less alone; I wasn’t the only one. As Dr. Tiller walked into the room, everyone silenced. He smiled. “Welcome,” he said. His first word was exactly how I felt.
I was lucky to have Dr. Tiller provide my abortion. I was lucky to have been taken care of by his incredible staff. I was lucky to be part of the program he had built for his clients, including counseling, care, and love that was needed during a very difficult time. When it was time for us to return home, I remember feeling conflicted. I didn’t want to leave this safe space. I wanted to stay here with the people who understood and supported what I had just been through, but I knew it was time to go home, and I knew I had support in Wichita whenever I needed it. I was ready to move on and not let this experience hold me back. Thank you Dr. Tiller for your wonderful care. You are missed every day.