How Nicki Minaj's Abortion Confession Helped Heal My Broken Heart1/12/2015
by Saaraa Bailey I was twenty-three when I had my abortion. While many see this as an adamant age to begin a family, I simply wasn’t rea...
by Saaraa Bailey
I was twenty-three when I had my abortion. While many see this as an adamant age to begin a family, I simply wasn’t ready. Burdened with the tab of my education and intellectual ambition, I was unable to care for myself, let alone a child.
The number “23” would come to reek of infamy—reflecting both the date of conception and termination. Falling on the final and festive months of the year, my holiday season would be forever uneasy. This single decision hovers over my life like a dark cloud, a jaded halo. I shudder when reminiscing at how lonely I felt, how every confidant plagued my hurt with queries and judgement—salting the wound to the point of the pain being unbearable. The only light at the end of that tunnel was the future.
So when Nicki Minaj candidly opened up about her own abortion as a teenager in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, I felt less alone. She was a high school student when she decided to end her pregnancy, having been in a relationship with an older man. Although our circumstances were different, I connected emotionally with many of the things she had to say in the interview about her own experience. I admired her courage, her willingness to be honest about a very difficult subject to discuss.
In the interview, Nicki states, “I thought I was going to die,” admitting that her decision to end the pregnancy was the hardest thing she’d ever gone through. Her words captured my own feelings with such clarity, my eyes stung with tears I couldn’t cry at the time. She goes on to reveal that, “It haunts me everyday.” This too speaks to the sadness I still feel, the sadness that continues to touch me everyday.
While many see abortion as a selfish act, it is actually selflessness that prompts many women to make the incredibly difficult decision to end their pregnancy. Whether or a woman gives birth, she is forever bound to the life you created. To terminate a pregnancy is to live everyday missing someone you never met, to search every dream and memory for a face you’ve never seen, while wishing on every star for a sign that you made the right decision.
Beliefs around abortion are varied, but they are often highly emotional and politicized. This is especially true within the Black community. When I read Nicki's confession, it instantly took me back to a 2011 billboard that read: The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb. This statement festered feelings of failure I had following my own decision, and upon learning of Minaj and Toni Braxton’s recent admissions. However, the complicated dynamics and realities of choosing when to become a mother cannot possibly be encompassed in a single sentence, let alone a billboard. In sharing my own story, I am not here to argue or defend my own position about the dangers that African Americans face either inside or outside of the womb. I am here to speak up as a woman whose first decision as a mother was an impossibly challenging and selfless act by wishing to shield her unborn child from her own shortcomings.
I understand that had Nicki decided to go through with her pregnancy, she may not have become the “Nicki Minaj” we know. Her options in life may have become incredibly limited, as her first priority would have been to provide and take care of her child. There is nothing wrong with this, as many women make this choice. But there is also nothing wrong with a woman wanting more for her child, and wanting more for herself so that she may one day be able to provide for him or her. While it may be a reach for some to understand this plight—especially men—I hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire people to have unconditional support for the woman who undergoes this experience.
Nicki speaks of being pro-choice following her decision, as she feels it would be hypocritical not to be. However, the phrase “pro-choice” is still problematic for me. Although choosing to have an abortion is a decision many women make, it holds more gravity than the usual day-to-day choices we make. It is also deeply personal. In my opinion, choosing to have an abortion meant choosing to lead the life I would want my child's mother to live. It meant becoming the woman that I'd want my son or daughter to have as a mom.
Because of Nicki’s confession, I now feel less alone. I thank her for nurturing my broken heart with her honesty.
Saaraa Bailey is a regular contributor at For Harriet. She is also the voice of whispersofawomanist.com.