This year my daughter is 34, she is married and has three beautiful children. My 14 and 17 year-old daughters are aunts to these three kids and I am the proud grandmother. She has an active, faith filled life and is a very big part of my existence. I wish I could say these words out loud and make them true, but the fact is I cannot, because in 1986 I aborted my child. Don’t ask me how I know it would have been a girl, but I believe it was.
I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio by Brazilian parents and went to Brazil to live forever when I was 12. After 4 years there my parents decided we were coming back to the States and they chose a small town in Georgia to live. I did not fit in at all. My last name of Garcia was automatically assumed to be Mexican, and I could not explain to the closed-minded kids I met that I was in fact half German and Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. My dark skin was a constant reminder that I did not fit in with these preppie and red-neck girls from this small southern town. I attended church every Sunday morning and evening and every Wednesday. I sang in the youth choir and youth group. I did not smoke or drink, I was a “good girl”.
After my graduation, a local restaurant owner had a graduation party for my class and at this party I witnessed our valedictorian and salutatorian smoking marijuana. I could not believe my eyes as I saw peers drinking and smoking cigarettes as well as pot. I decided I was done working so hard at being good and finally gave in to a co-worker and smoked my first joint. Besides feeling out of place in this small town, I also felt out of place because of my dark secret of sexual abuse by my father. Only my best friend knew about that, and she was having a sexual relationship with her boyfriend and began living a life separate from mine after graduation.
I began to party, experimenting with alcohol, pot, uppers, downers, LSD. My life did not spin out of control, in fact I was able to finally have peace in my mind and soul from the torments of my past. At 19 my mother found a bag of weed in my bedroom and told me that I had to abide by her rules or leave, so I moved to Atlanta. I was getting into the punk movement and felt this was the best place to live so that I could be in the scene. I attended college and worked during the day. I dated a few guys, one steadily for 3 years whom I thought I would marry. This did not happen and I eventually started dating the father of my child. We had a lot of fun together, but he was spiraling out of control with his drinking and decided to join the army and went to Ranger school. I went up to Fort Bragg to visit him one weekend and we had unprotected sex. I had just ended my period and knew I was safe to have sex.
Unfortunately, I was wrong and the breakthrough bleeding of ovulation was not the end of my period. Back then I did not really monitor my periods and ovulation, I just remember I had a little blood and thought I must have just ended. The next month, I did not have a period. I bought a pregnancy test and it came back positive. I told my then best friend and she advised me to call him. I called him and told him the news, hoping he would ask me to marry him. He told me to get rid of it. I was stunned! I could not call my mom, because she had told me years earlier that if I wound up pregnant, I would not be welcome at her house. Later when I told her this story, she assured me she was only trying to scare me. I did not know this and did not want to jeopardize my relationship with her, since I had none with my father.
I tried to find some information about pregnancy and picked up a brochure from a pregnancy clinic. It assured me that I only had a blob of tissue and that I could abort it after three months. In reality, it said I should abort it before three months. I began to drink heavily and tried to ignore what was happening to me. Nobody knew but my friend. I spent a lot of nights at her house and waited until the date I could end this. I called my (at this point ex) boyfriend and told him how much it would cost. He promised to send me a check. I kept hoping he would change his mind and not want to end this pregnancy. When his check arrived, it shocked me so much. He was only paying for half of the procedure! Looking at the amount on the check, I realized I was going to kill a baby and did not want to go through with it. I sent him a pleading letter about how without his support I was going to have to kill this baby growing in me. I told him he would have to live with this consequence his entire life. He wrote back and told me he never wanted to see me again, and that my letter was heartless and cruel.
My youngest brother was living in my apartment at that time, but I did not tell him what was happening. I was so ashamed that I had gotten pregnant, I wanted to keep it a complete secret. On the day the procedure was scheduled I drove myself, alone to my appointment. They asked how I was to get home and if I had anyone with me. I told them I was alone and would call someone after it was over. I went back to a room and was told to strip and put on a gown. A nurse put an IV into my arm and a doctor came in. He felt my abdomen and told me I felt too far along. I assured him I was right at 12 weeks. He asked the nurse to bring in a machine and after putting goop on my stomach looked at a monitor which was turned away from me. I asked what he saw, and I heard him tell the nurse that it was fine, he located the heartbeat and I heard it. I demanded to see the monitor and told him I did not want to do this anymore because at that moment I realized I had a baby inside me, not a blob of tissue. I had heard the beating heart of a human being. I became agitated and yelled that I wanted to leave, he nodded to the nurse who opened a lever on my IV and I awoke vomiting in a cold hallway with other dead looking girls like me. I was told to get dressed when I felt up to it. I got my clothes on amidst heaving from the heavy anesthesia. I went to the waiting room and sat down pretending someone was coming to pick me up. Finally, the receptionist asked if someone would pick me up and I said I needed a cab. She called a cab and I walked downstairs, past the cab to my car and drove back to my apartment. I had taken the Friday off for the operation and spent the weekend in bed.
Every year since then I thought about this abortion, but after giving my life to Christ, it became a constant companion. Not because I was plagued with guilt over what I had done, but because I was filled with sorrow for the life that never was. The milestones I missed with my child, the blessing of life, the privilege of bringing that life into the world. I got married late and after many miscarriages had two daughters, one at 41 and one at 43. They are a delight and every day since they were born, I love them more, and thank God that I was given a chance to bring two human beings into the world, love them, nurture them and guide them to being functioning adults.
The pain over that decision will never leave me as I mark every year and every milestone that will never happen because I was too afraid to face the consequences of being pregnant. My choice could have been adoption, telling my mother and risking it, or having it on my own. This is not a blob of tissue and the repercussions never end. This is a big business that only sees you as a commodity and has lied to you through so many channels that you now believe the lie. Had I had an ultrasound the week before my procedure there would have been another life on this planet, and one less small torn body in a plastic container somewhere in a back room.