Woman Tells of Decision to Terminate Pregnancy

Kimberly Mathias made the difficult decision to have an abortion when she was 19 years old. In this week's Behind Closed Doors, she talks about the reasons behind her decision to terminate her pregnancy, and her feelings about abortion now.

MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

We just talked about the ethics of abortion and how two medical professionals approach the issue. Now we're going to take this subject to a more personal level. We're talking to someone who chose to have an abortion, about how and why she made her decision.

In some ways, her story might be what some expect. She was a young woman when she first became pregnant. She was unmarried. Kimberly Mathias is also African-American, which statistically makes her nearly five times as likely as a white woman to have an abortion. She proceeded with her first pregnancy and planned to have more children. But then a second unexpected pregnancy came along. Kimberly Mathias joins us from member station KWMU in St. Louis, Missouri.

Thank you so much for speaking with us.

KIMBERLY MATHIAS: Sure. No problem. Thank you.

MARTIN: So when did you have your first child?

MATHIAS: I was 16 - 17 years old, I'm sorry.

MARTIN: Okay.

MATHIAS: And then I got pregnant again at the age of 19, and my son was 2 years old.

MARTIN: Had you ever considered terminating the first pregnancy when you had your son?

MATHIAS: No, I didn't. It didn't even cross my mind. I knew that, you know, I had a supportive family so that I would be able to graduate from high school and everything would be okay. So no, I didn't consider it for the first pregnancy. No.

MARTIN: You found out at 19 you were pregnant again. This was not a planned pregnancy, I'm hearing you say. So then what happened? What was your thought process then?

MATHIAS: My thought process then was like I cannot have another child right now. First, I thought about I was already a statistic as far being a young mother, a teenage mother. So I didn't want to be another statistic and have two children that ultimately I wouldn't be able to take care of. I was going to school and I was also working, and the relationship that I was in was not the best relationship to bring another child into.

MARTIN: Did you talk to anybody about it? The baby's father, your parents, a friend?

MATHIAS: I talked to my mother about it. And she totally left it - the decision up to me. I spoke to the child's father and everything was left up to me with him, also.

MARTIN: Did you consider adoption?

MATHIAS: No, I didn't.

MARTIN: Why do you think?

MATHIAS: Maybe because I know that if I would have continued with the pregnancy, that adoption would not have been an option, either. I'd just kept the baby and did what I had to do in order to raise the child.

MARTIN: You didn't think that once you had the baby, you could part with him or her.

MATHIAS: Correct. With the second pregnancy, at that time, it was the relationship that I was in. It was also, you know, I wanted my life to be better for me and my child - my son at the time. And I knew that if I was to have another baby, it would set me back even more.

MARTIN: You know, we live in a time when there's a lot of conversation around abortion in the public - you know, in the media, you know, is this right or is this wrong. And last week was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. There were a lot of demonstrators in Washington suggesting that abortion is wrong. Do you think about it, what some people feel?

MATHIAS: I really don't take out too much time to think about it, because I cannot tell anyone whether it's right or whether it's wrong. You know, it depends on your circumstances in life.

MARTIN: There are some in the African-American community who are against abortion because they say it's genocide. They feel that it's kind of part of a plot to eliminate the presence of African-Americans from this country. I don't know if you've ever heard that. And if you have heard that, what do you think about that argument?

MATHIAS: I've never heard that, no. But I don't think that's a fair argument. I don't think that it should be thought that way. Because like I said, it's a personal decision. It depends on you, your background, your social life right now.

MARTIN: Do you think that finances have something to do with it? Economic circumstances?

MATHIAS: Partially, yes. When I was younger, there were certain groups that it was not acceptable, you know? And it was more because of their family was at a certain spot, you know, where I was from. And so that was more when I saw or heard about anybody having an abortion, was when the parents were like, no, you know, we can't have this. And you're going to make our family look bad.

MARTIN: What about the religious and moral aspect of it, if you will? There are some people who believe that abortion is morally wrong, that it's killing. And other people, of course, feel differently. They feel that the child could not survive outside the womb, then it's not killing. And I just wondered if you'd ever had that conversation with yourself and if you have an opinion about that.

MATHIAS: I had the conversation with myself. I do understand, you know, both aspects of it. I mean, even thinking about it now, I can still, you know, be on both sides of the table. But, I mean, you never know until you're in that situation.

MARTIN: Do you still feel you made the right decision?

MATHIAS: Oh, yes. Yes, very much so.

MARTIN: Do you ever think about it still?

MATHIAS: No. No. I don't. Honestly, I actually - I kind of forget about it sometimes, unless the topic comes out. Because I've never regretted it. Because I didn't second guess it.

MARTIN: And you have other children now, too. As I understand it you have another daughter in addition to your son?

MATHIAS: Yes, I have a daughter. And she's 3 years old.

MARTIN: Do you feel that - I don't know. I guess I'm just wondering altogether how you feel your life is now. And do you feel you'd be where you want to be if you had not made that decision earlier?

MATHIAS: Right now, I have a wonderful life. I have a wonderful job. My children are great. I do not think that I would be where I am right now if I did not have the abortion at that time. I know that it'd have been a little bit harder, you know, with two at the time that I was trying to work and go to school.

MARTIN: So if you were to be speaking to someone who's facing the dilemma now, is there any advice that you would wish to offer?

MATHIAS: Be well-educated on the subject. It's a very personal decision. There are people that you can talk to about the situation. Also, make sure that when you do it, you do it for you. That will make your mental status in the long run much better.

MARTIN: Kim Mathias lives in St. Louis, Missouri. And she joined us from member station KWMU.

Thank you so much for speaking with us.

MATHIAS: Thank you.

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