A Dozen Years

Murder, or regret.

That’s how the majority of pop culture refers to abortion. I have noticed this distinct lack of range depiction, not just because I was a women studies major for whom reproductive justice was a constant teaching and learning, but also because I had an abortion in the year 2000.

I was twenty. Unlike what Ani sang, mine wasn’t a “relatively easy tragedy,” it was just relatively easy.

I worked at Microsoft at the time, and my insurance covered it. I made the appointment from the phone in our lobby, which was the most private space, filled with large indoor house plants someone would come around and water twice a week. Plants so generic in an office building that they become wallpaper after the daily/yearly commute.

I remember I had to buzz into the clinic and identify myself. I remember that they wouldn’t allow anyone in the room for the procedure. That the partner (the guy) in the waiting room may be coercive, and as such the women who came in for such procedures were asked the same questions in and out of their escort’s presence. I remember the room was the same as a room for pelvic exams, with the same landscape poster on the ceiling, but for the machine they wheeled in on a cart. I remember it didn’t hurt much, just a click click whirr and then over. I remember I bled for days, but the bleeding was such a relief.

I had been full for weeks. Never so aware of my uterus. I mean, think about it: can you feel your organs? My college girlfriend could feel her kidneys, because she had a kidney infection that put her in the emergency room, and she probably still can. I can still feel my uterus, still remember that rubber ball-sized solid object lodged in my pelvis that showed up without my asking, without my request.

I was trying to leave him at the time, my ex boyfriend. We’d been together five years. I was trying to leave him because I was queer and that was easier than to leave him because he was abusive. Mostly he was abusive because he suspected I was queer, which I’d told him was true since we met on the internet when I was 14 and my interest in ladies was a turn-on, but five years later was a threat.

I wrote a poem about this abortion, a heavy-handed lyrical thing that I won’t share because it’s bad writing, though not because I disagree with anything I wrote. The one line I remember, without looking it up, is “this is how sure I had to be in order to be the me I was meeting in dreams.” Getting pregnant meant I needed to be that much more sure that I was queer. This is how hard it’ll be, the universe told me, to stop being heterosexual. You can have this partner and this baby, if you want it. Are you sure?

Yes. I was that sure.

The cells they removed from me were more an infection than a child, more an unwanted mutation than a new life. It was not murder and I do not regret it. It was a decision that took me on a path here, and musing about the idea that I could have a twelve year old right now is as useful or relevant to my life as musing where I’d be if I’d married my first girlfriend or gotten into a different college or not quit that job.

I make a thousand decisions daily and they have brought me here, where most days I am wildly happy in my queer, kinky, working artist, open, exploratory life.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

10 thoughts on “A Dozen Years”

  1. FG says:

    thank you for sharing this story. sending you love.

  2. rexicon. says:

    i love you for sharing this. it’s super important.

    on a lighter note, i love that the biggest revelation for me in this post was that you worked at microsoft.. :)

  3. Starr says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve never had an abortion and have always considered it somewhat of an emotional roller coaster (from what I can tell), but I never doubted that sometimes the emotion has little to do with the abortion and more to do with where one is in their life. It is good to hear voices saying not murder and not regret. There are probably women who need to hear this more.

  4. CK says:


    Again, your willingness to speak your truth openly and without excuses or shame is a gift without measure. As I read your journal, my spine grows from blade to sappling. Perhaps one day a trunk for others to lean on.

    34 years ago, I made the opposite choice. I and the gay boy who became my husband did what we felt was right at the time. I can not say that I regret that choice, because that would negate my love for my sons. I can look back at our lives and wonder whether we made the right decision. The world our sons live in was rocked to the core when both parents came out after the boys had graduated high school. They felt (still feel) that the life we’d lived was a lie and they did not (do not) know what to trust or believe going forward.

    I look too at the many, many children born to parents who are unable and/or unwilling to give them the care they need. I look at how few of them ever reach the arms of adoptive parents who yearn for them. I question whether right choices were made for them.

    Bottom line: it’s a very personal decision and none of us have the right to impose our will on someone else’s body in such a life altering situation. The way that reproductive rights are being handled this year is spurring me to be vocal about politics with people I would have avoided conflict with. I have 4 grandaughters and I will not see them forced back to the dark ages.

  5. Bellatrix says:

    This is almost just like my abortion story(Which as I type that last phrase I feel should be made into a glitter-filled picture book).
    For me it was also an affirmation. I had to pay myself, but luckily my partner halfed it with me. Since I am a witch, I made it a magikal act. It was a ancient rite of sacrifice and dedication to the Goddesses I work with who are childless and who work in the dark realms.
    Emotionally it was not very easy but neither was moving 2000 miles away from at 17 with no friends or family. But I dont regret either decision.

  6. Rose says:

    Thank you for sharing. I made a similar choice about seven years ago. It was a difficult choice to make but I knew it was the right one. I married the man I was with, we had a few years together that were happy but I knew in my heart I married him as my best friend and not as the person I was meant to be with. We weren’t in the place to care for a baby, we could barely take care of ourselves, even after we got married.

    I never told him. I did it alone. Took the pill and bleed for about a month, all the while lying to him. Things ended with us, not the way I wanted but with his passing and even as everyone around me looked at me with pitty because we never had children. I know it was the right thing to do. I grew up with a struggling parent and I didn’t want a child because I dont want any child I have to ever had to struggle like I did.

    The only person I ever told this to was my girlfriend, a wonderful woman who completely understand and never judged me.

  7. Edison says:

    I don’t know what to say other than thank you for sharing this story.

  8. Wendi says:

    Thank you for sharing yourself so openly and honestly. I, too, have a story about this same subject but have always been hesitant to share it with others for fear of judgement and feeling so alone with it. With the world the way it is these days, more of these stories should be shared.

  9. Eli Deep says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Sinclair.

  10. Such a frank and open account of an experience with abortion is an incredibly valuable thing – I do think many women fall pregnant and feel so much external pressure to ‘follow through’ even though it isn’t something they really want…

    Thank you so, so much for sharing.

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