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A round blue sign that reads "Keep Abortion Legal" seen at a protest in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

What does fatherhood mean following an abortion? I’m pro-choice, but I miss her all the same.

Like many others, I was shocked and dismayed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. The country’s highest court should be immune to political agendas, and should never come close to being deemed capricious in its rulings.

How far will conservatives go? Will they move to ban contraceptives? There seems to be more concern for a fetus than what happens to a baby after it’s born. Margaret Atwood, the author of “The Handmaid's Tale,” posits that the government should be responsible for the costs of raising a child through adulthood. But the far right doesn’t seem to care about addressing issues including social welfare, homelessness, education and health care.

The battle is far from over. A Utah judge blocked that state’s abortion ban, and other states should follow. Kansas, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Vermont and Montana voted to support women’s abortion rights in last November’s midterm elections when Republicans fell far short of their expectations. A majority of the newly registered voters were women and lower income, the people most affected by Roe v. Wade.

As the paradigm shifts to the side of at least some abortion rights — even among Republicans and people of faith — the pro-life movement should be open to changing their hearts and minds.

On a personal level, I know from experience that difficult decisions can come with consequences. Sometimes those results are fleeting; at other times they can affect who and what you are.

My abortion story

Some years ago I met Joy, a woman who shared my love of the written word as well as my joie de vivre. We shared our dreams with each other and began discussing a possible future together — even making plans to retire at some point to somewhere remote and beautiful, where she could write her stories, while I put mine down on canvas. We talked about taking trips afar and sailing to distant ports to seek inspiration for our endeavors.

Unfortunately, circumstances caused us to split up. Even though we separated, I kept in touch with her by email, often attaching stories and poems I’d written expressly for her. We still cared for each other.

Two months after our split, I was surprised by a call from Joy, who informed me that she was pregnant. As a single mother already, she wanted an abortion.

I offered to make all the arrangements for her and pay for any costs involved with the procedure — if that was what she really wanted to do. She assured me that she wanted to get it done.

Over the years, I’d heard horror stories about abortions, so after hanging up with Joy, I felt compelled to research the procedure and investigate facilities in her area. After conducting this due diligence, I set up an appointment for her at a clinic near the university she attended.

I then called Joy to let her know about setting up the appointment. I offered my moral support and told her that I’d drive her to the appointment. Joy seemed relieved.

I began pondering something over the next few days and called her a few days before the appointment. I told her that if she wanted to do so, I would love to have the child with her. She told me “no.”

On the day of her appointment, I picked her up at her house to take her to the facility that was about 40 minutes away.

When we got there, I was glad I had done my research on the clinic. There were about a dozen other women in the waiting room. Only one was accompanied by a man, and he looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there.

As we waited, I started to feel uneasy. Up to that point, abortion was just a concept to me; now it was a reality. I thought about the fact that there was a tiny person inside of the woman I was holding, a person who would be terminated.

I turned to Joy again and asked, “Are you sure about doing this?”

She hesitated for a moment, but said, “I have to do it.”

Just then a door opened, and a nurse called for Joy. She got up and followed the nurse through the doorway into the operating area. As she did so, she looked back at me and I saw uncertainty in her face.

The first procedure didn’t take, so Joy had to make another appointment for a second attempt. I felt awful during the first appointment, but the second one was so much worse. Joy later told me that she had felt the same way. We both had a sense that we’d made a little girl, and she had fought to live. That’s a thought that haunts me to this very day.

‘What might have been’

After the appointment, we had dinner at Joy’s favorite restaurant followed by a movie and a trip to the casino, where we caught a lucky streak and had a great time through the early morning hours. When we parted, we kissed.

Joy and I eventually married, and a year and a half later we had a beautiful little girl. I just couldn’t imagine this incredible child not being part of this world.

I often think about what might have been with the little girl who had not been given the chance to live, love, be loved and become the person she had the potential to be.

Although she was never born into the light, I often imagine what her birth would have been like and the journey she would take into adulthood. I think often about all the questions I would have answered for her, the things I would have shown and taught her, and the places we would have gone to together. I envision being with her at birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, playgrounds and on vacations.

Even though she is not here, she is a part of who I am. I feel a love for her as any father would love his daughter, and I feel the paternal instinct to love, teach and protect her.

I have always been pro-choice, but if anyone ever asks me what my feelings are on the abortion issue, I’ll also have to tell them about the love I have for the little girl who never was — and how very much I miss the time we never shared together.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Joseph Cua is a writer incarcerated in California.