Megan has lived in Memphis for eight years and has been active with Lady Parts Justice TN since the 2014 campaign against Amendment One. Megan is 36, married, and has four rescue dogs. She and LPJ TN cofounder Cara McLane were awarded Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region’s 2015 Volunteers of the Year.
When I was 16, I had some stomach problems. I lived in Las Vegas with my dad, so I told him that I was feeling nauseated at least once a day. He told me I didn’t need to go to the doctor because it was probably just nerves. Luckily, I had a visit with my mother booked that week, and she took me to the doctor as soon as I got off the plane in Virginia. I remember peeing in a cup, and a few minutes later the doctor came in and said, “You’re pregnant.”
I said, “What?”
It’s not that I hadn’t heard him perfectly. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. How could he say that to me? This is the sort of thing that happens to other people and surely there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. He just looked me in the eyes and said it again. “You’re pregnant.”
After the doctor visit, my mom took me to a Waffle House for coffee. She laid out some options. I could live at home and have the baby. I could go away and live with a relative until the baby was born and she would raise it as hers. I didn’t understand the gravity of that offer at the time at all. She had her tubes tied 10 years earlier, after her fourth child. The last thing she needed was to have to raise another baby from scratch, but she offered without hesitation. I told her I wanted an abortion. I knew I wanted an abortion. It was the best decision, the most logical choice, and I made it easily.
My boyfriend at the time was nine years my elder (Oh, yes. I was 16 and he was 25.) and he didn’t even own a car, much less have the money for an abortion. I remember my mom running after me at the airport with a $250 check right before I flew back home.
My abortion experience was downright pleasant compared with a lot of other stories I’ve heard. I was lucky enough to be able to make my appointment without parental consent. (My father is Mormon and he still doesn’t know that I went through any of this.) I didn’t have to drive out of state or endure any kind of waiting period. I lived in a liberal city with five clinics to choose from. I didn’t have to listen to any state-mandated speeches. I didn’t have to walk past any protesters.
I don’t remember a lot about the procedure, of course. I remember the nurse asking me if I was making my own decision, that I hadn’t been forced or coerced. I remember that I couldn’t have the abortion until I was six weeks along, and my six-week date happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. I chose February 16th instead.
I am now 36 years old and married for the second time. I have a master’s degree and four dogs. I never wanted children, and I’m happy I never had them. I never regretted my abortion for a minute. I never got pregnant again, and I never married the 25-year-old dude who knocked me up when I was 16.
I am a reproductive rights activist not only because of what happened to me, but because I’ve always been a feminist, and women need to be trusted to make their own life choices. When you restrict abortion access, you leave underprivileged women with even less life choices than they are born with. What if my mom hadn’t been able to come up with $250? What if I had to get my Mormon father’s consent? What if I had to skip school to drive three hours to get to an appointment, only to have to skip school again a few days later after a waiting period had passed?
Those are precisely the type of roadblocks the Tennessee legislature continues to put into place, limiting the life choices of low-income women. This effectively keeps poor people poor, and increases the number of under-advantaged children in the state. The Right to Life movement has nothing to do with feeding, clothing and caring for children once they are born and everything to do with oppressing women.
Learn more about how to get involved with advocacy around reproductive freedom from the Advocacy & Action tab on our website.