I had an abortion in Oakland on the advice of my Planned Parenthood doctor

I had an abortion in Oakland on the advice of my Planned Parenthood doctor.  A few months before that, I had moved to the Bay Area from Spain to attend college. My parents were very strict when I was a teenager. They wouldn’t let me go to any of the parties or dances my brothers were allowed to attend.  They said I had to be an example for my younger sister. It felt very unfair that my brothers could do everything they wanted to do. I didn’t want to be a role model. I wanted to have fun with my friends.  I decided I would go to college as far away from my family as possible so I studied very hard. I only applied to schools in America. I earned a scholarship and my parents could not argue with that.

Sometimes I felt a little lonely and homesick but I had been enjoying the freedom of being on my own for the first time.  I joined as many clubs as possible and went to every party I heard about. I went through a phase of partying and drinking a lot. Somehow, I managed to keep my grades up. Then, close to the end of my freshman year of college, I started feeling ill and decided to see a doctor at Planned Parenthood because it was close to campus.

I had been drinking so much, I figured it was a sickness from the drinking. And besides, I kept getting my period so I didn’t even think I could be pregnant. I was so shocked to be told I was pregnant! And then, it got worse. The doctor did an ultrasound and said that the fetus had an irregular heartbeat.  He told me that he didn’t think the baby would have a normal life so he recommended termination. I didn’t understand what he meant by termination. After he explained it to me, I decided to pay to have an abortion in Oakland.

I was very conflicted because abortion is not what I ever thought I could do.  To be honest, a part of me was a little relieved. I didn’t want to go home to Spain for the summer with a big, pregnant belly. I could just hear my parents say: “I told you so! This is why we kept you home. You are so irresponsible. Look at the bad example you have set for your sister.” It was a very hard summer for me. I felt so sad and guilty for what I did and more guilty for feeling relieved. I was so depressed all summer that I just stayed in my room and slept. I almost didn’t go back to America but I still had my scholarship. Focusing on my studies proved to be a great distraction.

Now, I am in my late 20’s and finished with grad school. I enjoy working at an art gallery in the Bay Area and dancing with my salsa group. I am pregnant again and I want to handle my decision-making for the pregnancy differently. I went to Support Circle because they offered free ultrasounds and were close to the gallery. I felt more empowered when the nurse asked if I wanted to see the ultrasound screen.  This time, I was able to process the information my Support Circle advocate shared and take time to make my own decision. My advocate was kind and supportive when I talked about the abortion I had in college. She made me feel better about myself.  I wish I had found Support Circle during my first pregnancy, before I decided to get an abortion in Oakland.