Love, Grief, Fear & Relief: Women Share Their Abortion Stories

Pro-choice

As we mark the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, we are honored to share these real stories about abortions. Some women used their names, and others chose to stay anonymous, and we absolutely respect both choices, because every story of a terminated pregnancy is different -- as different as the women faced with a choice. There are no "right" reasons; there is no "right" way to feel. There is only ever a woman, her body, and her decision.

As these stories reveal, sometimes the choice is easy, and other times it's hard. Some women have no regrets, and others will always feel sad when they think about the decision they had to make. It's complex -- as complex as the human spirit, as our hearts and our guts. And that's why only we, as women, can make these choices, as is our right.

As you read through these stories, consider this statement from the Ms. Foundation for Women:

More than four decades after winning the right to legal abortion, women continue to face obstacles to accessing safe and affordable reproductive health care. States across the country have continuously made dramatic cuts in funding for women’s health centers. In addition, an ever increasing number of legislatures are enacting restrictions forcing women’s health centers to limit service or close their doors completely. In 2015, legislators across the country succeeded in passing 47 new anti-abortion laws.

The foundation adds that this lack of access caused by these restrictions "disproportionately impacts low-wage women, migrant women and in particular women of color."

The fight is far from over. Our rights are far from safeguarded. And, as you can see from reading these stories, we absolutely need that right to make our own decisions about our own bodies, our own futures, our own families.

Learn more about getting involved in fighting for your rights at the Center for Reproductive Freedom's site, DrawtheLine.org.

 

*Names have been changed

Image via Pete Marovich/Corbis

  • Abbey, 27

    1

    "I had a legal abortion when I was 17 and I don't regret it at all. My life would be so different had I become a mother at 17 -- I had a drug and alcohol problem at the time, and am now sober eight years.  I am grateful to have had access to a safe, legal abortion so I did not have to bring a child into the world under those circumstances.  

    "That being said, I now have a healthy, happy daughter from another pregnancy, a flourishing career, a happy life, and many more opportunities to provide a wonderful life for my daughter. I wish more women would come forward talking candidly about their abortions and not make it such a taboo subject."

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  • Olivia*, 23

    2

    "I was just one day late for my period but knew something felt off -- sore boobs, sick in the morning. I went to Planned Parenthood the next day ... I wasn’t really emotionally affected until they told me I had to come back a week later. I just wanted the whole ordeal over with, and to have to live another week knowing that I was pregnant was tough. There were days when I felt this maternal instinct kind of kick in, and you can't help but think 'I could make this work...' but at the end of the day you know deep down that's not the right thing to do.

    "I'm lucky enough to live just a few blocks from a Planned Parenthood. I don’t have health insurance (I just switched jobs), so it was $600. That hurt, but was a lot cheaper than what it could potentially cost. I went in for my appointment the Monday following the attack on the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. When I showed up, there were news crews out in front of the New York center, and a heavy police presence. Once I was inside though, they were so welcoming, and supportive." 

  • Kelly, 28

    3

    "I was 20 years old and halfway through my degree program. I've always wanted children but I knew that I couldn't provide the life I wanted for a baby then.

    "Today, I'm a two-time college graduate and I gave birth to my son this past June. I know the choice I made in 2007 enabled me to have him -- and give him the best life possible."

    (Woman in photo is not Kelly.)

  • Elizabeth*, 39

    4

    "I was 20 and in love with my boyfriend. At first, we thought about keeping the baby – we lived in a little fantasy world for a few days. But soon, I just knew in my gut and my heart that I wasn’t ready. It was an agonizing decision, but once I made it, it felt right. Right, but sad. I'm so grateful I had the unconditional love and support of my mom, who took me for the procedure and supported me emotionally then, and after. I am married now and have a beautiful daughter, but I won’t lie … I am not completely free of regrets, or what-ifs, even to this day. But ultimately, I believe I made the right hard choice. A choice that was mine to make."

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  • Tannis, 40

    5

    "I believe talking about my abortion, the way I do, makes space for those who want to talk about theirs, and offers comfort to those who may not.

    "I don't know what my life would be life if I hadn't had access. I try not to think about it too much. Worse? Better? Or just different. I don't know." 

  • Julie,* 41

    6

    "I am sad to say, but I had two abortions. They were completely different experiences. My first -- I was 19 and, last day before summer break, my college crush was transferring and I decided we could … The condom fell off during, and I remembered thinking, 'OMG, I'm going to be pregnant,' and I was.

    "The second was a product of a date rape. My senior year at college after a party. My roommate let a drunk 'friend' into our room, and I was afraid to scream … not sure why. The result was an unwanted pregnancy.

    "Both surgeries were very different. The first, I was nurtured, went with my mom, and healed quickly. The second, I was alone. I had to fight a snowstorm (without telling anyone why I was leaving in the middle of a blizzard). I was in pain for several days, unable to share why I was lying in the bed over holiday break."

  • Sarah*, 42

    7

    "I was 18 years old and dating my first boyfriend. Despite using condoms every time, I became pregnant. My grandmother had my mother at 18 and my mother had me at 18. Neither had finished high school or went to college. I didn't want to continue the cycle. I was going to college and wanted to get a degree. I knew immediately that I would have an abortion.

    "Without an abortion, like my mother and grandmother before me, I would have had a baby when I wasn't ready to parent. I would have quit school and closed off future opportunities to have a career. Most likely I would have lived in poverty and on welfare, like my mother, in order to make ends meet."
     
  • Edie, 61

    8

    "It was 1980, I was 25, single, and not ready to have a child. Back then it was frowned upon to have a baby without being married...

    "It still haunts me from time to time. I think about its age (it would be 35), and somehow believe it was a girl, though I never found out. I was only six weeks along. No one knew except the father, and my best friend. I would hope it's different now. My daughter is 31 and I hope she would be able to tell me if she needed an abortion. I would totally support her (though I really want to be a grandma)."

  • Marian, 28

    9

    "Neither my husband nor I are ready for children, it really was as simple as that.

    "There were no protesters outside, and the nurse who showed me my ultrasound handed me tissues and patted my knee when I cried. She asked if I wanted to turn the monitor away when she did the ultrasound, but I wanted to see it. When I started crying, instead of asking if I was sure or trying to talk me out of it, she said, 'You are making the right decision.' She has no idea how much I needed to hear that. How comforting it was to have someone trust my judgment and just be there."

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