'I Had an Abortion to Stay Child-Free By Choice'

I have noticed that people often want to justify the "need" for an abortion. Perhaps the couple is too young and the woman doesn't want to be a teenage mom. Maybe they're not able to afford the financial responsibilities involved in having a child. Worse, the woman may be in an abusive relationship.

All those needs are valid, but my partner and I have none of them. On paper, we are the perfect candidates to raise a baby. We are financially stable, we have been together more than half a decade and we own a home together. We love and trust each other immensely. For us, it wasn't about why we "needed" an abortion but rather why we deserved one.

The conversation around having children happened pretty early on in our relationship. Both of us, without wishing to be disrespectful to people who have children, would see a parent with a crying baby on a plane and say that we could never do that. Eventually, I said that I wasn't sure I wanted children and my partner agreed.

It was always clear that parenthood was never really where we saw our lives going. We knew the two of us were enough and wanted a future where we are able to travel and make decisions at the drop of a hat. We are building a family, but we have a different dynamic to more "typical" families. I think that "selfish" has bad connotations. I'm selfish when it comes to my family, and I include my partner in my family. Nothing comes above that.

Despite being on the contraceptive pill, I have never had an "on time" period. So, I've kept an arsenal of pregnancy tests in my bathroom for the better part of a decade. Taking a test offered me a sense of comfort, until one day in 2021 when two pink lines appeared and that sense of security shattered.

Taylor Esche Had an Abortion at 27
Taylor Esche and her partner are child free by choice. At 27, Esche had an abortion after becoming pregnant. Taylor Esche

I sat on my bathroom floor with a glass of wine and a glass of water, working up the courage to take a second test. I was convinced the first had been a fluke—I was 27, I had zero symptoms and I took my birth control religiously. When the second test was positive, too, I dry heaved in the sink.

I've always been vocal that abortion is a choice that should be acceptable, but I never truly thought I would get pregnant and have to make that choice myself. So part of my reaction was shock at knowing I was in the middle of a life altering event. Another part was the Catholic guilt that had been drummed into me. I come from a Southern, conservative family and I attended Catholic school growing up—anti-abortion sentiments had been pretty much drilled into my head.

When my partner got home that evening, I immediately started crying and told him I was pregnant. Without a word, he laid down with me and we cried together.

I have a few friends who have had abortions because they had got pregnant at 18. Another friend had an abortion after dating a guy for two weeks and getting pregnant. But we were in a different position to anybody I personally knew; I didn't know anyone who had exercised the choice to have an abortion because it existed and because they wanted to remain child-free by choice.

I immediately purchased books on pro-abortion movements, religion and pregnancy and my research reaffirmed many of my personal feelings about abortion. Despite not being religious, I decided that I was morally comfortable with ending my pregnancy before six weeks. I understand that many women don't even know they're pregnant until past that point, but I felt that beyond six weeks, I would struggle more with abortion.

I had an ultrasound at a Planned Parenthood in Nashville, Tennessee where we live, the following Wednesday. It confirmed I was five weeks pregnant. We were just under the wire for my self-imposed moral deadline.

That Friday, following my state's mandatory wait period, my partner picked me up from my office and we drove together to the abortion clinic. I took one pill at the clinic, then picked the next set up at my local pharmacy. We took the rest of the day off to have the abortion in the privacy of our own home, comfort each other and grieve. I'm really grateful my partner was there for the whole process.

I don't think there was ever any doubt that we were making the right decision, but it was a painful process; emotionally and physically. Unfortunately, I had to be back at work at 9am the next day, so I had to bottle up that pain and focus. I was in a really busy time and so for a few weeks I didn't get to really process what I had been through.

At the time of deciding to have an abortion, I had immediately called my aunt and two women I know who have had abortions. And, I also told two other women, because I needed the support. But really, nobody knew for months.

Later the same year, I went to a concert with a friend and learned that she had also had an abortion within a week of mine. We cried together. She is child-free by choice like me, and both of us wished people like us had told their stories because ours was a really isolating experience.

Taylor Esche Had an Abortion at 27
Taylor Esche describes her abortion as the "best decision" as it allowed her to live the life she has chosen for herself and her partner. Taylor Esche

I'm now nearly 29, and I have had a hard time talking to people about my abortion because its so personal, but every single person I have told has then shared with me that they have been through an abortion as well.

So, I cried immediately when I heard about the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade. My partner and I are both so upset that people may not have the same opportunity and choice that we did.

As I read more about the possibility that abortion rights would be curtailed in America, my inability to talk openly about my own abortion was making me feel bad. I shouldn't feel bad. I'm not ashamed of the decision and it shouldn't be a deep, dark secret. I also felt like my silence on the matter made me complicit. If more women who have had abortions speak up and the Supreme Court can see how many of us there are, they may rethink what they are considering. My partner supported me in speaking out, so, on May 3, I tweeted about my own experience of abortion. In the thread I tweeted "I plan on having children on my own timeline." The beauty of having that choice is due to Roe v. Wade existing in its current form. People should have the autonomy to choose when they have babies, rather than be forced to give birth. I know how I feel about having children, but maybe one day circumstances or opinions will change. If that time comes, I reserve the right to make that decision for my own body.

After I tweeted, I had to call my parents the next morning and tell them, knowing that it was out in the world. It was a difficult conversation but a little more well received than I expected.

Since May 3, I have donated to funds in states like Oklahoma where I grew up, so if trigger laws banning abortion go into effect, there will be funds in place to transport women into other states. I wrote to my congressman and I protested at my local courthouse. I am planning on continuing to protest, write letters and donate. And, I am looking for more ways to get more involved on the ground in Nashville.

I know that having a baby I was not ready for was not fair to myself, my partner, or that child. Having an abortion was the best decision because it ensured that I was able to save my career. I own my own business and don't get maternity leave. Taking that time off would have almost certainly resulted in the ruin of everything I have worked so hard to build.

My partner would have been forced to become solely responsible for our finances and wellbeing, and that is a pressure I would never want to put on him. He is the most important thing in the world to me, and I would not risk losing him to the stress of an unplanned pregnancy.

Living in Tennessee, a state likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, I am scared about what will happen to me if I get pregnant again and don't have abortion access. But I'm more scared for women who are disproportionately disadvantaged and can't afford to travel out of state. Women who don't have that access are going to be the ones who suffer. That is what doesn't sit right with me. That's what's scary.

I understand that in deciding I would have an abortion before 6 weeks, I set a deadline that may not be obtainable for some people, so I hope that others know that whatever they are comfortable with, they should do. I would like to think that had I found out I was pregnant further down the line, I would still have made the right decision, and the right decision was the one that I made.

I have realized over time that you don't have to have a "need" for an abortion. It's a matter of what you want from your life.

Taylor Esche lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her partner. She is the founder and creative strategist at JED Media. You can follow her on Twitter @eschesketch.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

Additional details told to Jenny Haward.

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