Seattle Story Project
Kirsten West Savali, author of this essay.
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Kirsten West Savali, author of this essay.
Credit: Shout Your Abortion/Elizabeth Rudge

I don't regret my abortion. But I wish there had been another way


s I looked around the dark bedroom, my eyes focused on nothing. I couldn’t really see my husband’s face as I told him that we were pregnant again, but I felt his body go still.

I gripped the sheets tighter as I felt my brain turn off my heart. “You know what we have to do,” I said. “I’ve already called the abortion clinic, we can go Wednesday.”

My husband, who I’d met when I was 19 years old, turned to me and asked quietly, “Are you sure?” No, I wasn’t sure. I just knew that we had three sons growing as fast as the pile of bills stuffed inside of my purse and in a drawer in the kitchen.

Read more: This coffee table book is not ashamed of its 43 abortion stories

The thought of growing big with another child, one who would maybe have our eldest son’s face, our middle son’s smile, and our youngest son’s hair—with her fingers curled around my mine as she nursed for the first time—filled me with a joy so deep I felt dizzy. 

My mother died when I was 16 months old. As a young girl, I always said I wanted all boys—boys who would remind me of my father, my uncles, and my baby brothers I loved so much. But as my feminism evolved, I smiled as I imagined conversations I would have with my daughter about the beauty of black womanhood, the power in radicalism, and how to navigate the world free. I would teach her things no one taught me—things I had to learn the hard way.

I wish we had a health care system that valued black women’s bodies so that I didn’t have to worry about dying during childbirth or after. Kirsten West Savali

Of course, whether our new baby grew up to be a boy, girl, or gender-nonconforming, I would be in love, but it’s always the dreaming that’s beautiful, you know? The mystery of the stardust that would one day become a child. But we were just a couple of years removed from poverty. It was time to rebuild our credit, create a savings plan and stick to it, spend more time together as a couple outside of our children, and spend more time with the children I already had. As I walked beside the security guard on the way into the clinic, a woman offered to buy my child.

“Don’t kill it,” she said. “Jesus loves it and loves you too.”

“Murderer,” one sign read.

I walked in and sat among women years younger than me. I could see the fear in their eyes as they sat beside angry mothers or uncomfortable boyfriends—or alone. One young woman was in a wheelchair and disabled. I learned later that she had been raped by her caregiver and that that wasn’t her first time at the clinic.

A white man droned on about adoption options.

He had to do it, he told us. He had to let us know there was another way and offer the literature for us to read. By the time I entered the cold room for the procedure, I was numb. I just wanted to get back to my family.

I do not regret my decision not to carry my pregnancy to term. I wish there had been another way. I wish we didn’t live in a fucked-up capitalist society that makes it difficult to survive if you’re not wealthy. I wish we lived in a world where black lives mattered and that it didn’t feel like a fist was balled around my heart whenever my 13-year-old son is out and doesn’t answer the phone.

I wish we had a health care system that valued black women’s bodies so that I didn’t have to worry about dying during childbirth or after. I could have died during my last pregnancy. I still remember bleeding through sheets and the nurse telling me to get up and walk so that I didn’t develop blood clots.

“You’ve come too far for these boys to lose you now,” she told me as she helped me sit up in bed.

I wish I hadn’t felt so guilty for not wanting to have another baby, but I made the decision that was right for me and for my family.

And I am so glad that I had the choice.

This essay is part of the anthology Shout Your Abortion, a coffee table book that includes 43 essays about the experience of having an abortion.