An astounding piece by Lisa Davis at the resolutely pro-abort New York Times. A young artist becomes pregnant and decides to film her abortion. Her plans suddenly begin to unravel due to a cab driver and his reaction to the news that she is on her way to have an abortion:
I stuffed my Ricoh Hi8 video camera in my backpack, and I went alone.
The driver was Middle Eastern, from some hot and weather-less country, but he did a fair job of steering into the skids. He kept asking me why I was going out in such weather.
“I have to go to the doctor,” I kept telling him.
“Why? You don’t look sick.”
“I have to have a procedure.”
“What? What procedure?”
Finally, I told him. Why not? I was proud and un-conflicted. I was exercising my right. I was making a video.
He pulled over to the side of the road, right there on the Brooklyn Bridge — not only illegal but dangerous. “Please don’t kill the baby,” he said. “Please don’t kill the baby.”
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t kill the baby.” He wouldn’t move the car, though horns blared all around us.
“Keep driving! I have an appointment!” I shook his headrest. This was not part of the script.
“Please don’t kill the baby,” he said again, turning around to face me. He had beautiful big brown eyes — almost black. “I will take care of you and the baby. I work two jobs.”
Heartbreakingly she has her abortion:
The first thing I thought when I awoke from the anesthesia was that I’d never be pregnant again, that I had just squandered my only chance at motherhood. I was sobbing — I had arisen from the depths of the medication this way — as they rolled me into the recovery room where the other women were lying, almost all of them with a friend or partner or relative to brush their hair back or offer them ice chips. I could not stop crying, big heaves and gulps of it. The nurse came over at first to soothe me and then to quiet me.
“You’re upsetting the other girls,” she said.
She sent the doctor over. “Sometimes we have to massage the womb,” he said, inserting his hand inside me and pressing. This did not stop the crying, but eventually it stopped the pain.
Or, at least, it stopped the physical pain. The begging cabdriver and the woman on her ninth abortion and the shocking suction in my womb: It was too traumatic for me to make art of. Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t a good enough artist to transform that level of trauma into something that others could learn from and use. I had been taught that a woman’s right to choose was the most important thing to fight for, but I hadn’t known what a brutal choice it was.
I took a car service home, too, where my brother and his girlfriend met me and we ordered in. “We would have gone with you,” they said, “if you’d asked.”
“I was going to make a video,” I said. Reacting to the way my hands still shook, they tended to me as if I’d just walked miles in that blizzard. I knew then I’d never be a filmmaker.
About motherhood, though, I was wrong. Fifteen years later, happily coupled with a wonderful man, I gave birth to my first daughter; I now have two. I don’t wish I had a 20-year-old. I didn’t want that baby, with that man. Abortion rights, yes, I’ll always support them, but even all these years later, I wish the motto wasn’t “Never again,” but “Avoid this if there’s any way you possibly can, even if it’s legal, because it’s awful.”
I wish that someone had alerted me to the harshness of the experience, acknowledged the layers of regret that built and fell away as the months and years passed. I want my daughters to have the option of safe and legal abortion, of course. I just don’t want them to have to use it.