A 20-year-old college student’s Reddit post about “the worst, most backwards day” of her life is gaining traction online after she recounted how she was dropped on the side of the road by an Uber driver who disagreed with her decision to get an abortion.
Claire Montgomery, a pseudonym, was faced with a difficult decision after finding out that she was pregnant in March. The college sophomore at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was talking to her boyfriend, who attends school in North Carolina, about how her period had been about a week late. And although she had put aside the anxiety of possibly being pregnant because she had previously taken Plan B, an emergency contraception pill, she took a pregnancy test and realized that what she feared had come true.
“The minute I saw that the test was positive I called my boyfriend, hysterical, and told him the news,” Montgomery says. “I cried for the rest of the weekend and stayed in bed. I didn’t go outside unless I absolutely had to. I shut down.”
The student explains that she felt that she couldn’t confide in anybody at school about the pregnancy or her decision to get an abortion because it wasn’t “an appropriate or proportional response to innocent small talk” taking place on campus or in class. Montgomery also felt uncomfortable about unnecessarily burdening other people with her “personal problems.”
Montgomery faced more discomfort, however, when she turned to Uber for a ride to a doctor’s appointment on March 21, where she was going for a non-surgical medical abortion by herself.
“The minute I got into the car, there was inexplicable tension. My driver didn’t greet me or confirm my name or the destination; he was just silent. After a few minutes, he asked if we were going to a Planned Parenthood,” she says. “I was confused about why he would ask me this, considering there was nothing in the address I put in that would suggest it was a Planned Parenthood or even near one. I said, ‘No, I’m just going to a doctor’s appointment.’ A few more minutes of uncomfortable silence passed. Then he asked, ‘Are... are we going to an abortion clinic?’ I was dumbfounded.”
Montgomery admits that tears immediately came to her eyes, and she felt like her heart had stopped beating.
“All the embarrassment and shame I had been feeling the last week or so rose to the surface,” she says. “I looked at him pleadingly, silently begging him to stop.”
The driver, identified only by Montgomery as Scott, continued to press her for information before describing the procedure to her in detail.
“I know it’s none of my business, but you’re going to regret this for the rest of your life,” he allegedly told her. “There’s so much they don’t tell you. You’re making a mistake.”
Montgomery checked the map on her phone in the moments that she had service, as they were driving through a rural area just outside of Ithaca. The ride would still be another 35 minutes when the driver suddenly pulled over near a small gas station and antiques shop on Route 38 and told Montgomery that he couldn’t take her any farther.
The young woman says that despite the sudden end to her ride, she thanked him as she got out of the car on the side of a road in Upstate New York.
“I was scared and I felt more alone than I had ever felt,” she says.
But she was still set on finding a way to her appointment.
“I took refuge on the porch of the antiques shop and called my parents, each three times. No answer. I called my boyfriend, who I had been texting throughout this whole ordeal, and he picked up on the first ring. Through my heaves and sobs I managed to tell him the situation,” she recalls. “As I called the three cab companies closest to me, my Uber driver waited 10 feet away, probably expecting me to go back to Ithaca with him. After about 15 minutes, he asked me once more if I wanted him to drive me back. Firmly, I said no thank you. He drove away, and about 15 minutes later a cab came.”
Montgomery paid $120 for a cab that took her the remaining half-hour of the drive. When she got to the clinic an hour after her appointment time, she felt “incredible relief” to be in the company of doctors who treated her with dignity and respect. She admits that her ride home was also uncomfortable, but she didn’t feel unsafe as she had during the Uber ride prior.
“I debated sticking up for myself, justifying my choice to get an abortion with my young age or my inability to provide for this child financially had I brought it to term, but I knew I shouldn't have to justify my choices to anyone, least of all my Uber driver,” she says. “Was responding to this man’s harassment potentially worth my life? Would my responding actually change anything, or deescalate the situation? Maybe, but to me, it wasn’t worth the risk.”
For a split second, Montgomery says she even considered exiting the vehicle while it was in motion, thinking that even a life-threatening injury was preferable to being in the car.
But Montgomery opted to not take action in that moment, which she notes “is a decision I’ll always regret.” Once she was home though, she reported Scott to Uber and filed a police report with the Ithaca Police Department.
“The officer I met with who filed the report was very sympathetic, but he insisted that nothing criminal had actually occurred,” she explains. “Uber comped my ride, and after telling them I filed a police report against the driver, a representative immediately got in touch with me and apologized for my experience on Uber’s behalf. He said they would launch an investigation, during which Scott’s account would be suspended, so he’d be unable to pick up riders. Within a few days, the representative said Scott was permanently banned from the app.”
Uber confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that the driver was removed from the service as his actions violated the company’s community guidelines. Montgomery says it was a small price for Scott to pay.
“Sometimes I think of Scott going home to his family and feeling like a hero for what he did. A job driving for Uber is a small price to pay for a misguided attempt at saving a life, right? I imagine his colleagues at his main job (if he has one) patting him on the back, congratulating him for his courageous decision to leave a 20-year-old pregnant girl on the side of the road, alone, in March, with no way back home except with him, in the back of the car he just expelled her from,” she says. “He’ll never understand the ramifications of his actions. He’ll never know the pain he caused. He’ll never pay for what he did in the way that I’ve paid for it, emotionally and psychologically.”
To help with the emotional pain, Montgomery turned to Reddit, where she shared her story and received more than 3,500 responses — most of which she says were positive. Now, nearly a month after that fateful day, she said that Reddit played a part in her healing.
“Writing about it felt akin to writing in a diary; I was rushing to get it all on the page, and writing it down helped me to process it,” Montgomery says. “Reddit was an unbelievable comfort and resource, and I’m not sure what I would have done without it.”
Montgomery has since taken to the legal advice subreddit, where she’s looking for guidance on how to pursue further legal action.
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