This morning as I sat quietly in my safe home, a home where all my needs are met, living a life of enough and relatively problem-free, I wondered. . .
What if I were that nice young woman who serves you your breakfast or your dinner, and what if:
I am 19. I live in a medium size city in the south. I left home when I was 16, escaping from my drug and alcohol addicted parents and a home that always had a ready supply of both but lacked in food, love, and kindness.
I work as a waitress. The breakfast shift in one restaurant within walking distance of my studio apartment, and the dinner shift in another restaurant – the opposite direction of the first, but still within walking distance. I can afford neither the luxury of a car, nor the cost of public transportation. Fortunately, my jobs afford me two good meals a day, so my food costs are very low.
Before, between, and after jobs, I got my GED and am taking online college courses, because I want to some day have a job that pays enough to live decently. I want to get ahead, to have more in life than my childhood provided. Some day, I’d like to marry and have a family, but only when I am able to support myself in a reasonable manner. For now, I make ends meet by living in a small space in a low-rent district. It’s a struggle, but it’s important and I survive.
Now – now all of that is in question. Six weeks ago, walking home from my night job I was grabbed by a man, drug into an alley, and raped. I tried to report it to the police, but they were not helpful, and the man has not been caught. I doubt he ever will be. This morning I learned that I am pregnant, impregnated by a cruel stranger in the cruelest manner I can think of. What do I do? How do I handle this? If I must carry through with this pregnancy, I will lose my jobs. I have no insurance and I cannot afford the medical bills. I fear that if I am forced to keep this child my future will be what my past has been. Poverty, no money for food, no chance to get ahead in this life. I fear I will always remember that night when I see the child. The child, who will end up carrying on this life of no hope – perpetrating it into future children, to more poverty, to darkness and despair.
There used to be a chance to change this chain of events. There used to be medical centers that could help me end this unwanted, dreadful pregnancy. That is not the optimal answer, obviously, but I see no other choice. It would be a hard decision, it is not what I ever saw in my life, but sometimes life just isn’t fair and sometimes hard choices have to be made. Now, that option is gone. The powers that be, most of whom are men who would never have to deal with this situation, have made it impossible to get that help. They have made laws that are cold, uncaring, unreasonable. They have done so they say in the name of the good. In the name of Christianity. This puzzles me, because I have always thought of God, of Christ, as caring, tender, protective. They say they are protecting life – but what I think is they are encouraging the continuation of my life as a child. Laying that life on the shoulders of babies and children who should never have to live with neglect or abuse and hunger. Are they there to support these babies, to help the unwilling mothers? No. They are behind the fences of their community – the fences that protect them from life in my neighborhood.
How dare they?! What can I do? How do I go on? Help me. Please. Help me.