My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college

My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college | Honeycomb Moms | Jerusha Washington poses for a pic before a party her senior year at the University of Missouri.
My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college | Honeycomb Moms | Jerusha Washington poses for a pic before a party her junior year at the University of Missouri.

Before I was in a committed relationship, before I was a mother; life meant something very different. I was a senior at the University of Missouri, and I was on my way to being the first in my family to graduate from college.

I had a 3.8 GPA, an off-campus apartment and a work-study job to pay for that apartment. I also mentored other students, helped lead several school organizations and made it my job to know nearly every black student at Mizzou.

I was thriving academically and socially.

Still, I was only responsible for myself where it counted.

So when I missed my period in September 2008, my mind exploded.

I tried to convince myself that the weight of supporting myself through school was starting to get to me. It’s stress, I reasoned.  It’s a hormonal imbalance, I convinced.

Yet, a dollar store pregnancy test confirmed what I feared.

I was pregnant.

I wasn’t raped or a victim of incest. I had consensual protected sex, and a condom failed.

I was disappointed in myself. I was a student with my whole life ahead of me.

I called my best friends crying so hard they could barely understand me. I went across the street to their apartment and ran to the bathroom threatening to take a bottle of whatever pills were available in the medicine cabinet.

I threatened to get in my car and drive off a bridge. In my mind, life was not worth living anymore.

The suicidal feelings passed rather quickly. I went to bed that night uncertain about what my next steps would be.

My friends hid my keys and told me everything would be alright. I wasn’t sure about that, but I think it’s what I needed to hear. Their reassurance calmed me down, and I began to think rationally.

I had less than a year left in school and no visible support system.

I felt conflicted.

On one hand, I was capable of being a mother. I was 21-years-old. There are amazing mothers who started their journeys much earlier in life than that.

On the other hand, I was on my way out of college with only a summer job lined up. I had no long term plans in place. I was considering graduate school and couldn’t imagine doing that with an infant.

I was also grappling with my faith. I was already a sinner having premarital sex, but somehow an abortion weighed more heavily on the scale in my mind.

My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college | Honeycomb Moms | Not every woman who ends up pregnant chooses to be. Find out how one college student handled getting pregnant and having an abortion.
My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college | Honeycomb Moms | Jerusha Washington poses for a pic her junior year at the University of Missouri.

My biggest concern was disappointing those who loved and cared for me. I didn’t want to be another young, unwed mother, a statistic.

Aside from my two best friends and the person I’d been intimate with, I told no one that I was pregnant. My friends would support me in anything I wanted to do.

The guy made it clear he was not ready for a child. I didn’t fault him.

Though his opinion did play a role in my reasoning; ultimately, how I was going to handle it was my choice to make, and I made it.

I decided I wasn’t willing to have this situation determine the trajectory of my life.

Abortion was the best option for me.

I contacted Planned Parenthood. Although the nonprofit didn’t perform abortions where I lived, they had knowledge of the resources in the area. I reached out to one of the facilities they told me about, and I scheduled an appointment immediately.

I was told that it was too early and that before 6 weeks the fetus is so small that there is a chance of leaving pieces of tissue, which could cause severe health issues.  So I scheduled an appointment for a few weeks out and focused on how I would pay for what I remember being about a $500 bill.

The guy I was in this situation with agreed to pay half, but I couldn’t even come up with $250.

It was time to tell someone else. I called my sister and explained the situation. She was not disappointed. She was sad that I felt like I needed to go through this alone. She reminded me that I had insurance, which could substantially lower the cost.

We decided I would come home, and she would sit with me through the procedure. I was relieved that she was there for me. Her support solidified my decision.

I was having an abortion.

Weeks passed, and soon enough, it was time. Soon-to-be President Barack Obama was speaking at Mizzou, and I was driving home to Kansas City.

I’ll be honest. Missing that rally was my biggest regret in this whole thing. Though it might seem trivial, a black man was running for president of the United States in the first election I’d ever exercise my right to vote in. I was vice president of the black student government at Mizzou. I was supposed to be there.

Still, we left home on a Friday morning and crossed the state line from Missouri to Kansas. I had knots in my stomach by the time we made it to the doctor’s office and it was my turn to see the doctor.

He rubbed a wand across my stomach for the mandatory ultrasound.

I watched the walls.

He gave me some pain and numbing meds and did a physical exam. He commented that there was a lot of dried blood and that I’d likely already miscarried.

In the moment, a possible miscarriage didn’t mean anything to me. I’d made a conscious decision to have an abortion, so that was my reality.

The procedure was quick. I remember staring at a wall the entire time.

On the drive home, I wiped away tears in silence.

I wasn’t necessarily sad about the abortion.

I was still disappointed in myself that I’d gotten pregnant in the first place. I felt irresponsible. I was upset that life hadn’t gone according to plan.

Over the years, I started to lean into the possibility of having miscarried. If I decided to share my abortion story, which was rare, I was always sure to include that.

It felt redeeming in the face of judgment.

I don’t regret my decision. I’m not ashamed of it. I was, however, looking for something to justify it to others.

I’ve since stopped trying to rationalize the past. I’m 32-years-old now, financially stable and happily married with three wonderful kids.

I rarely think about my abortion at all. But I know if I had to make the decision again, I would make the same choice.

I did what was right for me.

My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college | Honeycomb Moms | Not every woman who ends up pregnant chooses to be. Find out how one college student handled getting pregnant and having an abortion.

12 thoughts on “My abortion story: Getting pregnant in college”

  1. Wow this was so touching! You’re so brave for being open and honest about this, especially with all that’s going on with the abortion laws. Very eye opening. Thank you for your story and transparency.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. The best part is that you did have a choice. There is no one size fits all when it comes to life or an abortion. I bet more people have an abortion than we realize.

    1. I firmly believe that it is an individual choice and the government should not be involved. Your story is inspirational and should be shared! It was your decision and you made it as a well abled adult. Thank you for sharing your journey ❤

  3. Thank you for sharing! This post is needed in the climate we are in about women;s health. I’m glad you made the decision that was best for you! Your current life update makes everything worth it.

  4. Thanks for sharing, so many people are scared to speak up because they do not want to be labeled. I believe it is a personal choice.

  5. I’ve noticed most people who regret abortions are those who didn’t get to choose themselves to have one. But, I do know that your story is powerful and I’m so glad you shared it.

  6. Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I too experienced the same situation in college during my junior year. Eventhough I didnt go through with my plan to get an abortion I have nothing but respect and compassion for those who have. The prospect of having a child at a young age before one is ready is so scary and the choice to have a baby should solely be in the hands of the woman.

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