Ky. journalist tells the story of her first pregnancy, focusing on choice — whether that be parenthood, adoption or abortion

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp in her high school band uniform

A Kentucky women writes about the importance of choice when it comes to decisions about  abortion and tells her story titled, “I’m the mom I am today because I chose an abortion at 19.”

The essay by Bonnie Jean Feldkamp, opinion editor of the Louisville Courier Journal, was published there and in USA Today just days after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“Make no mistake, this ruling, when it happens, will not end abortion,” Feldkamp writes. “Some states will still provide the service. If it proceeds the way Justice Samuel Alito’s draft suggests, people of wealth and privilege will travel to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Only the poor will feel the harsh cold shoulder of this inequitable law. For a pregnant person without financial means, abortion costs are already a hardship.”
Feldkamp writes in detail about the decisions that led to her pregnancy, her abortion and why it was right for her to wait to become a mother. She writes about being a rebellious Northern Kentucky teen whose father kicked her out of the house shortly after her high school graduation in 1993 and how that resulted in her bouncing “from friend to friend and job to job,” and when she ran out of friends, from “bed to bed.”
“At the time, I didn’t think there were any other options for me,” she writes. After becoming pregnant, she approached the man who had fathered the child, whose message to her was clear: This was her problem. “How could I possibly be a mom? I was not yet finished being a child.”
Using $830 she received from a car-insurance settlement, Feldkamp had an abortion at 13 weeks of pregnancy. In pain and told to stay off of her feet after the procedure, she called her dad, who came to get her and took her home, after two years of being “unhoused.”
“It is the decision that changed my life,” she writes. She now has two biological children.
“Nurturing a pregnancy to birth isn’t easy, and the parenting that follows is hard. But so is an abortion,” she writes. “I think that’s the most misguided criticism I’ve heard of abortion rights – that abortion is supposedly the easy way out. Or that it’s somehow selfish. . . . Under other conditions and with more support, perhaps I would have made a different choice. That’s why it’s called a woman’s choice. Not a woman’s desire to terminate a pregnancy.”
Feldkamp writes that she had always wanted to be a mother, but her situation when she was 19 bore no resemblance to what motherhood would look like: “I didn’t have a home or a job or a support system. I was still couch-surfing or worse, sleeping in cars. I couldn’t take care of myself at the time, much less a child. The $830 arrived at exactly the right time, and it felt like my lifeline to the only choice that made any sense.”
Fast forward: Feldkamp is now the mother of a daughter born in 2000 and a son born in 2015, and she has a 26-year-old stepdaughter.
“My three children got the best version of me possible because I waited to become a mom,” she writes. “I am not arrogant enough to think this means that my way was the only way. Women who decided to have their children and face parenthood head on will also tell you they made the best decision. Others will tell you, placing their child for adoption was the right choice. They are also right. We are all right. There’s room for gratitude in every path. The key is having the choice.”
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