I grew up in rural Missouri in a very religious family where I was told sex before marriage was bad, we were to be submissive to men and abortion was murder. I was violently sexually abused by my grandfather for many years.
I remember the first time I had a pregnancy scare, and the father would have been my grandfather. He was livid. Somehow, it was my fault that this was a possibility. I was 13. I couldn’t imagine facing people, pregnant and having to say (at my grandfather’s insistence) that I didn’t know who the father was. I told no one.
I had a paper route, so I had enough money to ask a woman at Walmart to buy me a pregnancy test, only to be looked at like I was growing horns. So, I walked to a clinic in our town that did free pregnancy tests (A Planned Parenthood was too far away for me to get to, especially alone.) I was scared and embarrassed and had no one I could trust to go with me. I went in and took the test under the judgmental eyes of the nurse who, with great relief, told me the test was negative and to go to church and thank God that I wasn’t trapped with a baby at 13.
This was the first of many times I wish I had had access to a supportive place like Planned Parenthood. I support women and their right to safe and supportive abortion and reproductive care because you never know what a woman’s circumstances are or what they are going through.
I know as a child, I needed to feel safe and supported somewhere in my life. I didn’t need judgement or someone telling me about church and thanking God…I just needed safety and support and accurate information. I will forever support women and girls in their right to abortions, healthcare, body autonomy, and their right to their own decisions about their body.
Note from NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri: The judgement and shame that Mel experienced at the fake clinic she attended for her pregnancy test is sadly too common at Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCS). CPCs are fake clinics designed to lie to women and shame them into carrying pregnancies to term. Click here for more information on CPCs in Missouri.