Honor and respect human dignity

My name is Victoria Gómez Betancourt and I had an abortion. This is my story.

It was a few years back when I was facing some very challenging life circumstances. All happened very quickly. I became unemployed, soon after that my house was foreclosed, I was homeless, survived a violent, abusive marriage, and attempted suicide. And all of a sudden my father died. My mother became destitute overnight. At that point, my life’s purpose became to get myself back on my feet so that I could provide for my mom, and look after her. I brought her to live with me in the States.

Those were very trying times. I found us a place to live, a rundown studio. I remember the bathroom didn’t have a door, and the most expensive thing in our place was the hospital bed I bought second-hand for my mom after scraping together $300 some dollars. It was a labor of love.

My mom lives with advance disability, has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. So I spend my days bathing, diapering, clothing, and feeding my mom –day in and day out. It was a rough time. I worked so hard to be able to provide for my mom. No family around us, just two immigrant women trying to survive. Because of our migratory status we were not able to access public supports, though we needed them desperately. I had three part-time jobs, no benefits, neither of us had health insurance. And then it happened, I learned that I was pregnant.

My first thought was, I need an abortion.

I also have an orthopedic disability and after four back surgeries and several spinal fusions my doctor had warned me, pregnancy for me means being bed ridden: six months during the pregnancy and three months after giving birth. I looked around and saw how hard I worked to give my mother and me a chance to live with dignity despite living in poverty. I asked myself, if I’m bed ridden, who’s going to change my mother’s diapers? And thought of the many months I would be without work –no job no income. We were on a collision course, this pregnancy was a one-way ticket to more poverty and misery.

I thought long and hard, it was a very difficult decision to make. I made my decision and wanted to share it with my mom, the only person I trusted.

I came over to the side of the bed, grabbed onto the rails, looked at my mom and said, “Mamá, I have some news. I am pregnant. I thought about this, I thought about you, I thought about us, and I am getting an abortion.”

My mom reached out, grabbed my hand, she looked at me and said, “Hija, do what’s best for you. I’m here to support you, and I love you.”

Having an abortion was the best decision for me and my family. I am where I am today because I was able to act on that decision. I was able access a safe and legal abortion.

I do the reproductive justice work that I do because of the life experiences that I have had, which helped me realize how many people in the U.S. and around the world who are faced with the very difficult, personal decision to terminate a pregnancy are not be able to act on that decision and are either forced to bare children or put their lives at risk. I do this work because I believe we must honor and respect human dignity.