Krista, who I met via my This Is What A Feminist Looks Like series, graciously agreed to do a guest post for me, especially after I had found out that she had been a patient of the late Dr. George Tiller. Krista originally shared this post as a speech at a Planned Parenthood event.
|Krista at 15|
In 1986 I was 15-years-old and I was pregnant.
That’s an easy statement to make now, but it was a reality that took me months to accept.
I was in love. I honestly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him….until he broke up with me.
The next month my period didn’t come. I thought it was because I was upset over the break-up.
The month after that, I was in denial. It couldn’t happen to me. We had been safe….most of the time.
The month after that I accepted I was pregnant.
But I wasn’t allowed to date yet, so how was I going to tell my parents I was pregnant?
When I finally told them they were angry, disappointed and concerned.
We talked about my future and what I wanted.
I wanted to go to college. And I knew I was not ready to be a mother at 15-years old.
My mother took me to the Planned Parenthood in Peoria Illinois.
After an examination the doctor said he could not perform the abortion.
I was more than 21-weeks pregnant.
Our only alternative was to travel to Wichita Kansas and the Women’s Health Care Services clinic.
The same clinic Operation Rescue and other anti-choice protesters targeted for years.
When we pulled up to the gated clinic only one silent protestor stood outside.
I was relieved, but I was also scared.
The staff was kind. They smiled and treated me and the six others in my group gingerly.
They were other teenagers like me.
There was a 20-year old beauty pageant queen. She told me she was getting an abortion because the Miss America rules stated she could not have a child.
There was a couple in their 30’s who made the difficult decision to terminate a planned pregnancy because the child was stricken with a severe birth defect.
The same birth defect that had already claimed one of their children.
And there was a 12-year-old Hispanic girl who didn’t speak English. She looked terrified.
The staff explained that over the next week we would take pills to induce labor and abort our fetuses.
We all stayed at a local motel.
We ate together, we cried together and we supported each other.
My contractions started in the middle of the afternoon.
I couldn’t keep food or water down.
The pain increased as the contractions got closer together.
By the next morning I was in agony.
I don’t remember much about the moment when my pregnancy ended.
Just the nurse who told me to push.
On the long drive home, my breasts started producing milk. My body believed I had given birth.
Before we left the clinic, the Doctor talked to all of us about our futures.
When the Doctor looked at me he paused and quietly said I reminded him of his daughter.
My doctor was Dr. George Tiller.
In 2004, I saw Dr. Tiller again at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.
I cried and thanked him for giving me a future.
I felt empowered knowing he was on our side.
On May 31, 2009 Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller.
The doctor was at his church serving as an usher during the Sunday morning service when Roeder shot Dr. Tiller in the head.
That single gunshot closed the Women’s Health Care Services clinic permanently.
I want Dr. Tiller’s legacy to be something he said, “Abortion is about women’s hopes and dreams and potential, the rest of their lives, abortion is a matter of survival for women.