Dear Judge Kavanaugh,
Like you, I am a parent of two. I saw your wife and daughters at your confirmation hearing, and I thought about my husband and sons.
Sixteen years ago, when our boys were young, I chose to have an abortion, I’m going public about what had been a private family decision because of you.
I’m driven by a sober sense of urgency, fearing that your impending confirmation will tip the Supreme Court and lead to restrictions or a ban on abortion. I worry some states will severely curtail abortion. I’m writing you because I believe every woman, regardless of what state she lives in or how much money she has, should be able to decide whether to continue or end her pregnancy.
Too often, we who choose abortion keep our decision quiet. I want you to hear stories of ordinary women like me who have had abortions. My story isn’t dramatic. I wasn’t at risk of death. I hadn’t been raped. I chose abortion because I didn’t want to have another child.
When I got pregnant at age 41, I knew immediately I would abort. I’d had two miscarriages before our sons were born. I understood pregnancy and parenthood.
For years, I had wanted a bigger family, a daughter. Now, I — the third of five children– didn’t want a third child. I told my husband I wanted an abortion.
He paused. “Are you sure?”
“I’ll support whatever you want to do, and I know it’s your choice, but are you sure?” he asked.
Even now, sixteen years later, I remember the conversation, the two of us, a stable middle-class, white married couple, getting ready for bed, talking. Our sons asleep in the bedroom next door.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m certain.”
I did not want this fifth pregnancy. My mind flashed through scenes of diapers, high chairs, potty-training, playgrounds, preschool, all the stages we’d walk with another child. I would be 47 years old with a kindergartner; 59 years old at high school graduation. It wasn’t the family I wanted. I knew what being a mother means, and knew I didn’t want to do the work of parenting a third child.
The next day, we booked an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
At our local Saint Paul clinic, by the library we frequented with our sons, my husband and I sat quietly in a modest waiting room. I went through the initial check-up and tests. We scheduled the abortion before we left.
The same month, we went back to the clinic. Men aren’t allowed in the medical rooms, so my husband stayed in the waiting room. I don’t remember the actual abortion. The clinic visit went quickly, smoothly. Afterwards, we spent a peaceful afternoon playing and reading with our sons when they came home from school. I remember looking at our boys, thankful for our family. Two parents, two kids.
Over the years, my husband and I embraced the family we have. We are complete. I began volunteering for Planned Parenthood, outside the clinic where I had my abortion. With fellow volunteers, I greeted and escorted patients, buffering them from protesters, just as others had done for me.
This year, once again I stood outside Planned Parenthood, a more modern facility that replaced the small clinic that helped me. On a brisk winter Saturday, I marched amid hundreds of other pro-choice women, men, and their children, many clad in pink, a cheery and vocal counter to a much smaller, muted anti-abortion protest.
Amid the multitude of pinks, I spotted my 25-year-old niece, smiling and bright-eyed, walking with her boyfriend and other friends. I thought about her, wondering if in a few years, she and other women will still have the right to choose when and whether to have a family.
I don’t know if any of my nieces would ever need or want an abortion. Who knows if someday, someone you know, perhaps even one of your daughters, would need or want an abortion. Will a future Supreme Court prevent women from getting what is now a safe and legal procedure?
Your nomination compels me to speak. I can’t stay silent, just hoping that other women will still be free to choose what happens with their bodies. By going public, I’m exposing myself to potential criticism, and perhaps, worse. At 41, I trusted myself to make the right choice. At 57, I trust myself to share this story, hoping it might help others– my nieces, maybe women my sons will love– to have the choice I had.
Becoming a parent is an immense responsibility, too significant to leave to chance. Parenthood should be an intentional decision. I had a choice. Every woman should have that choice. Abortion is not a political football, it’s a personal decision that women need to be able to make for themselves.
The next time you consider a case involving abortion, perhaps you will think of me, a married mother who loves her children, and chose not to have another.