What’s Your Abortion Story?

When I was a kid growing up in the ’60s, women traded abortion stories in hushed voices. “She threw herself down the stairs.” A friend of mine told me she’d locked herself in the bathroom and used a homemade lye douche to abort. When she woke up in the hospital, she learned she was no longer pregnant but she would never be able to conceive again.

As for me, I got “lucky”: I miscarried in the dorm bathroom, surrounded by college girlfriends who stayed with me in shifts, holding my hand, reading to me or playing music to distract me from the pain.

A lot has changed since then: Abortion is legal, but abortion rights are still severely restricted across the U.S. and around the world. Because of this, I’m developing ideas for a documentary and a play about abortion. My hope is that if we can stop talking about abortion in hushed voices, we can help the world acknowledge that motherhood should always be a choice.

I’ve told you my story, now can you tell me yours? Let’s get this conversation started.

Photo of Florence Rice courtesy Tara Todras-Whitehill.

Comments

  1. I went to planned parenthood, I found out about all my options and decided to get a surgical abortion, even though I was only 4 weeks pregnant and could have used the pill. It was really expensive, and I was in college, so I had to tell my mom about it, because I knew she would help pay for it. Then, I miscarried. It was weird, because I still felt like I had the abortion even though I also “got lucky.” I felt lucky. But also a little sad. Not sad about my decision or sad about the miscarriage, just sad that it had ever happened at all. I was sad that I had been so irresponsible (no birth control, no condom — we were camping) and I was sad that I had to tell my parents and tarnish their view of me. Now I’m not sad. I know that this experience only solidified my belief in the woman’s right to choose. Yeah, I got lucky, but if I hadn’t I would have gotten an abortion. And if I got pregnant again, I’d have an abortion now, too.

    The only thing I regret is the shame I felt. Not for the choice to abort the baby, but because I had been so reckless. As though I’d failed to protect my purity, and I didn’t want anyone to know.

    Thanks for giving me this opportunity to look back on that event in my life. I never think about it anymore, and had never really pinpointed the source of the shame until now.

  2. One of my best friends hemorrhaged in a 1964 abortion performed by her mother’s gynecologist in La Jolla, California. She spent three days in the ICU and went on to get her PhD in Psychology at Northwestern. I personally was lucky enough to have two safe, legal ones; they were painless and allowed me to continue teaching, writing (two books) and producing a feature film (still in the process; the shoot will begin on April 17).

  3. At four weeks, I went to Planned Parenthood with my partner after talking with each other in depth about the decision. I received care and information at the clinic and after a few visits, I was able to have the abortion in the privacy of our home (using medication). It was a personal choice that I was glad to share with a close friend and lover. We both took the day to take care of everything. Following the abortion, my partner and I continued to develop our relationship and our lives together. This was almost two years ago. Last week, he got a vasectomy. If we choose to raise kids together in the future, we will hope to adopt, something I have wanted since I was a kid myself.

  4. Does anyone remember Amy Richards’ abortion story in the New York Times back in 2004? I wrote a post about it and also described my own abortion:

    When Is An Abortion Okay, And Who Gets To Decide?

    There was outrage because of her matter-of-fact and seemingly emotionless tone about being pregnant with triplets and choosing selective abortion to abort one but keep the other two. Her article caused quite an outcry because she had no regrets about her abortion, wasn’t overcome with guilt, and was quite honest about it.

    Please read my post. There’s lots of information and thought there and I know it will give you a few “click” moments.

  5. We must contact European feminists and feminists abroad in general because abortion is so accepted in Europe. Personally, I think doctors who choose to perform abortions should be given medals instead of generals! 87 million new mouths for our poor, impoverished world to nourish are added every year; family planning and abortion if needed are the ground up solutions to our overpopulation problem.

    I went to a Women’s Writer’s Conference in Santa Barbara where a woman from Kenya said they had to resort to much crueler methods to rid themselves of impossible pregnancies.

  6. NYCartist says:

    I’m not ready to post this story using my name. In the mid1960s, I was in a city in the South, with my first spouse who was a community organizer in the antipoverty program (worked on police brutality, started a welfare mothers credit union – both areas provided by the residents of the community). I was beginning my art career, in my mid20s, and worked as a “volunteer”, pt time, for a local civil rights law office:doing research on legal cases, and any kind of office work that needed doing, as well as charts for court. My contraception failed (size change just before annual checkup). I did not want to have a child in the South. The local doctor I saw would not help. We went back to NYC for an abortion, which was not yet legal. An acquaintance knew a nurse….it was done on a kitchen table. The method was risky, but I was too uninformed to know it:catheter tube into uterus. I had some bleeding. Went back south, but was still pregnant when I went for checkup with OBGYN. “Never touched the fetus.” he said. I decided I was stuck with the fetus. Some weeks later, my water broke. I figured, well, maybe I should just go along with it and took pills to stop labor. The fetus was very undersized, the OBGYN finally told me, and the outcome of miscarriage was always likely from the first examination, he said. But never told me. I refused surgery, a Csection because I planned to have a baby in the future. The labor was intense, so much so that I told the nurse that if the window next to my bed was opened, I’d throw myself out. When I was given pain-killer (Demerol) the labor stopped, so no pain killer. I went to look at the fetus when it was finally out and the nurse said, “I’ll hit you if you look.”. She said she didn’t want me to think of it as anything. Truly bizarre. I was finally given pain-killer. When back in NYC, some years later, spouse and I decided it was time to have a child. I was 30. I used Lamaze. Labor was hard as I did not dilate and was given chemical to speed it up.
    Delivery was a physical high point of my life. Great joy. I had a LaLeche neighbor and nursed my baby. I only regret that I was so stupid as to not know how dangerous was the method I allowed used on me. Abortion is a right and we must protect it for the younger women.

  7. Re: NYCartist, Thanks for sharing your story. I have long felt that women have abortions because they take motherhood very seriously and want to be good mothers. I’m glad your story had a happy ending.

  8. NYCartist says:

    Re: Carol King reply above: when does the “story” end? Child went off with dad at 13; less and less contact until none for a decade and a half, result of fear of my physical illness.

  9. I haven’t had an abortion yet, and to be quite frank, I hope I never do. However, hearing all your stories are inspiring.

    My closest experience with abortion. When I was a child, my mother became pregnant with my father’s child midway through the divorce. Because of the life situations, my mother had to abort. She had wanted to carry the child, and let her be adopt by some family friends in India who were having trouble conceiving a child, but circumstances said otherwise. Her sadness, however, wasn’t caused by the abortion, but being unable to carry the child and being unable to give a child to the family friends.

    I am extraordinarily lucky. My parents are both very strong feminists – it was, in fact, my father who have me a different last name from them to end the patriarchal tradition of passing down the name as a sign of ownership. My parents are fully supportive of me being bisexual, and are happy to provide birth control should I need it. I have several condoms stored for ‘just in case’, given to me by my mother from her own stash, who is very open about her own sex life with me. Ironically, I’m not particularly sexually active, mostly because of lack of interest.

    I live with my father, and I already know that should I need an abortion, while he will be disappointed if I failed to properly utilize birth control, he will be there for me, and make sure that I don’t have to pay for it, whether from our insurance – which is some of the best in the state in terms of coverage – or from his own pocket.

    I go to a school which provides comprehensive sex education, promoting abstinence while at the same time giving complete and accurate contraception, including the best places to find it. In fact, a common assignment among health classes in my school is for kids to take a worksheet, go to their nearest pharmacy, and record what kinds of birth control they can obtain, both by browsing the family planning aisles and talking to the staff. The sole purpose is to make students aware of where in their area to get birth control should the need arise. They also give us “teen phonebooks” which, among other things, include phone numbers for family planning and Planned Parenthood centers across our city – of which there are many, being Los Angeles and all. And the teachers aren’t afraid of sexuality here, either. One of the health teachers uses dildos to show how to use condoms, while another one regularly hands out fun condoms (flavored, ribbed, glow in the dark, ect.), for free.

    I know just how extraordinarily lucky I am. Feminist parents who accept and support their daughter’s sexuality in a city and school which teaches and accepts healthy sexuality? This is unheard of!

    It saddens me that my situation is not even just “lucky”, or “very lucky”, but “extraordinarily lucky”. It saddens me to know that a majority of girls around the WORLD do not have the kind of freedom I have. It saddens me to know that most of the girls in my own community do not have this level of freedom, even in as liberal a community as ours.

    The stories I hear of abortions in the past and present sadden me, scare me, and downright terrify me, usually. The ones I see here today, however, also do something I rarely see in abortion stories, which is that they give me hope.

    Carol King, I love you with all my heart for having a post like this for women to share their stories. It gives girls like me the knowledge and tools with with to continue the fight for women’s rights on all grounds, including these. Thank you, ever so much.

    (And, sorry for the long comment – there’s a reason why my English teacher is one of the only ones who has to set a “maximum” limit on assignments :D ).

  10. Re: Nyxelestia – There is no limit on posting here and I loved hearing all you had to say. I am thrilled to hear about the sex education in your school – it’s exactly what sex education should be – teaching about abstinence while providing honest, comprehensive information about contraception and STI prevention. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and taking part in this conversation.

  11. Re: NYCartist – I was moved by your story of how you survived a botched abortion and later carried a pregnancy to term and gave birth. I’m sorry you no longer have contact with your child. I hope someday you’ll get a chance to reunite. Good luck and thanks for sharing your experience.

  12. MinneSnowTa says:

    I was twenty, my boyfriend was 19. I realized I was pregnant (courtesy of the at-home tests) and set up an appointment with Planned Parenthood. I already knew I was going to choose abortion; I wasn’t ready to be a parent, financially or emotionally.
    The closest clinic was about an hour away, and my appointment wasn’t for a few days. My boyfriend suggested that I should look into one the pregnancy clinics in town. Thinking it couldn’t hurt, we set up an appointment with them. While there, they gave me some paperwork to fill it out. It seemed innocent enough… at first. It was when I got to questions like “Which religion do you identify with?” that I began to question the legitimacy of the clinic.
    After paperwork, I was taken to a different room without my boyfriend. (While I understand that it’s ultimately the woman’s choice, it was hard to take this all on my own; after all, he was here with me, clearly supporting whatever choice I made, right?) The woman in charge introduced me to one of her newer employees, which she told me was going to be taking her place some day.
    The woman looked at my paperwork, eyed me a bit, then proceeded with more questions. Again, they started off innocently enough, like the date of my last menstrual cycle and things of that nature. When it was decided how far along I was in my pregnancy (only a few weeks), the woman eyed me again, then opened a cabinet drawer to pull out plastic examples of what my “unborn baby” looked like. I felt all the blood rush to my cheeks, then drain; My stomach turned with nausea: this place was exactly what I feared it would be.
    I reiterated my intention: I was planning on getting an abortion. She reminded me that there were other options, like financial help from the clinic itself, or adoption. I knew I couldn’t do adoption; I couldn’t go through 9 months of pregnancy and then just give it up… That would be too much. But all I could think about was how I just didn’t want to be my mom, I didn’t want to be pregnant at twenty and struggling to get by the rest of my life (don’t get me wrong–I love my mom, I just know she still wishes she could have provided for me better). She felt it necessary to then inform me that I would “never have another baby just like this one, even if [I] were to have ten children later on.”
    From there, she acknowledged, with a bitter tone, that I had checked “atheist” on the religious question on the form. She began to chide me, asking if I even knew what the term entailed. Then she asked me, “Then why are we here?” I was so taken aback by the question, that I repeated to her, yet again, that I was there to discuss getting an abortion. She laughed, looking over to her trainee, eying me again, and said, “No, no… then why are we all here? Why do people exist?”
    Then, the most profound thing happened: I choked back the tears from my anger, looked her dead-on, and said I was leaving. Her smug smile dropped, and well-practiced concern took its place. I think she asked me to stay and talk some more, but my back was to her–I was already in the process of leaving. I have never been so proud of myself. I simply couldn’t take the indignation, the assumption that I was incapable of making my own decisions, whether it was in regard to religion or to my sexual rights. I stood up, with all my ideals and strengths, and simply left.
    I went to Planned Parenthood later that week, got the pill (which she had fed me many well-recited lies about), and finally obtained my abortion… without guilt, without looking back. To this day, I still firmly believe it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. My boyfriend and I are still together, and someday, when we are both ready, we may start a family.
    I realize this is a lengthy story, but I felt it necessary to point out all the ridiculous hoops a woman has to jump through just to get the medical care she is entitled to. I felt far worse at a “clinic” that is meant to help women through their choices than I ever had at Planned Parenthood.

  13. Re: MinneSnowTa, Wow. Thanks for your story. Those fake clinics are really dangerous.

  14. MinneSnowTa says:

    Yeah, that whole experience was pretty terrible. Just today I pulled down a Birth Right poster in my complex’s postal area. I refuse to ignore that sort of advertising! Like I said, I know it was lengthy (trust me, there was even more to it), but I felt it was so typical of what women really do go through when CPCs are involved!

  15. NYCartist says:

    Carol King, I know what you meant. I just wanted to make my personal point about disability and how stories keep going. It’s a common story. I appreciate having some place feminist to put my stories. Thanks. The other comments are very important and I am happy to have read them. Women are wonderful.

  16. Nancy D. says:

    I had an abortion in 1994, when there was a lot of growing fear in the pro-choice community. Abortion doctors were being murdered and clinics were seeing an escalation of bombings, picketers, & violence. Sadly, this cycle of violence is being repeated today, in 2009, with the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. The murder of Dr. Tiller, makes me think back to the day of my abortion, not because I anticipated the procedure, but because I was told that procedures were being delayed because the physician had to, ‘’change her schedule so she wouldn’t be killed.’’ What? As a patient, that’s not exactly the words you want to hear, that your doctor is being threatened, and could be killed, before you get your legal medical procedure done. Luckily, the doctor made it in that day, and I had my abortion as scheduled. What a relief. I was relieved because before I could have my ‘’legal’’ abortion, I had to: 1-listen to the pros & cons of abortion and childbirth via the phone, 2-talk to a biased counselor, (anti-choice), and 3-pick up a brochure sponsored by the state on fetal development, and 4-had to wait an additional 24 hours before my procedure to give me time to ‘’think.’’ The legal hoops I had to jump through to get my ‘’legal’’ abortion were meant to dissuade me, but instead it just made me more determined to have it. This experience made me take action to protect women’s rights and I later became a clinic escort in Akron, Ohio. Recently we’ve had two court cases in Akron because there’s been an uptick in clinic violence, one anti-choicer was found Guilty of Criminal Trespass-#904159/1 4/11/09 courts.ci.akron.oh.us; the other anti-choicer was found Not Guilty of Felonious Assault #2009-09-2723 9/4/09 http://www.cpclerk.co.summit.oh.us (at the clinic, this anti-choicer broke my openly pro-choice gay friends 6 ribs & gave him a concussion). I’m sharing my story & the experiences we went through in Akron because if clinic violence was stopped early when protesters were just blocking the drive, screaming at women, it wouldn’t have escalated to the violence we experienced today. Having an abortion is a women’s right over her own body and needs to be protected. Also check out http://www.imnotsorry.net as it shares women’s stories on abortion who do NOT regret them.

  17. I recently had an abortion. I was four-five weeks along when I found out that I was pregnant. I am a broke graduate student trying to decide what my next step in life will be, so I felt completely lost, terrified and confused when I found out that I was pregnant. It was unplanned; having a baby was something I had not given much though to at this point in my life. I told a few close friends and my fiancee. It was a difficult decision since I had the support of my friends and my fiancee regardless, however, my fiancee and I were not ready to care for a child. I felt that we were still learning to care for each other and balance our lives/ lifestyles together. After much thought, many long discussions and a session with a social worker at planned parenthood I decided to terminate the pregnancy.

    I am very lucky because I was able to have the procedure done in a hospital in NYC (thank goodness for my grad student insurance). The staff was friendly and best of all the other patients had no idea what I was in the hospital for so the waiting room experience was not especially awkward.

    Now that it is over I feel a little strange about the situation and the abortion, but I think this will pass. I’m definitely glad that I was able to have the procedure done in a safe and clean environment. I’m also thankful for support groups and networks that allow women to share stories such as these.

  18. I had an abortion in the 1980s when I was in my early 20s in New Zealand where most abortions performed are approved under a ‘risk to the mental health of the mother’ clause. This means you have to convince two doctors your mental health will be at risk if you have to continue with the pregnancy. No big deal, I thought as I went in for my appointment. But when faced with the physician and his questionnaire, I suddenly felt utterly enraged. It was a visceral thing of realizing that my life — i.e. how I got to live it; whether or not at this point I got to decide whether or not I wanted to be a mother — was in someone else’s hands. But I’m sure I was convincing re the mental health clause because I recall essentially screaming that if he didn’t approve my abortion I would kill myself. And I think I believed it. I was so very very angry. I got the abortion, but had to walk through a bunch of anti-abortion activists at the clinic on the day of the procedure. One of them, an older guy, got in my face but because I was determined, was a feminist, had been active in the pro-choice movement already, he was no match for me. I got right back in his. But I imagined how hard it would have been for someone less used to confronting the “don’t kill your baby” types. I got angry all over again.

  19. I am overly fertile much to my dismay and allergic to latex. I had one miscarriage when I was younger, it started in a movie theatre. It was for the best but it was really hard when it finished three days later and I lost the baby while urinating. The nurse yelled at me for not using some sort of cone (mind you when I told them why I was there noone explained the “cone” thing to me for the toilet). I was hemorrhaging in the doctors office and they had me drive myself to the hospital. Looking back I was lucky that I was not hurt.

    Another time I found out I was pregnant and it was a really bad time in my life, I was a student, lost my job and already had kids; really horrible timing. I went into a doctors office for the abortion and there I sat by myself in shame. I watched these girls bouncing out of the back room like they just went to buy shoes. When I finally went to the room the doctor was horrible and rude. I was moaning quietly because the dialation was hurting. The bastard threatened to stop giving the abortion right then and there. I told him that I would own his sorry practice and see his pathetic self in jail for malpractice. He took my baby in the vacuum and left. My body went into shock and I was laying there shaking and crying when a nurse walked in. She told me all of the nurses hated him as she held me until my body quit shaking. As I sat there waiting for the doctor to come in to do the abortion I sat there singing “You Are My Sunshine.” To this day I bawl my eyes out for my babies when I hear that song.

  20. In addition…

    I was using birth control but as I stated above I am overly fertile. Since then I use 2 or 3 contraceptives at one time

  21. I found out I was pregnant right after I graduated high school, and I’ve never told anyone about it beyond my boyfriend at the time. I was already accepted to a great college, a great student, and I knew that my future, my goals would be in jeopardy if I raised a child at that age while attending college. I couldn’t even think about how I could even begin to talk to my parents about it. I knew the only option for me was an abortion, even though I grew up as a Southern Baptist, saying I would never do such a thing. So my boyfriend called clinics and hospitals nearby, many of which said they weren’t even supposed to talk about the issue. I ended up going to a place over an hour away, a clinic that herded a group of mostly young girls around on a Saturday morning, getting it done one after the other all at one time. I just remember everyone sitting quietly, waiting for their turn to go in the next room, with their heads down. I’ve never had any major surgery before or been put to sleep, and I was scared. I hate needles, but I let them stick the needle in my hand so I could go to sleep and wake up with my problem gone. All of the sudden, I woke up in another room of beds, and for some reason I immediately started crying. I tried to get it together as soon as I could so I could leave. Honestly, I have felt very ashamed and have questioned my decision, but ultimately, especially now, 5 years later, I am so happy that I was able to make that decision, even though it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I’ve never talked about this experience with anyone, even though sometimes I’ve wanted to, just so I know it was real.

  22. Check out http://www.45millionvoices.org for more abortion stories, and a lot more. Great organization involved in starting a movement to remove stigma and shame.

  23. At 17 I found myself living in Alaska, far away from liberal thinkers, laid back beer drinkers and kangaroos… thats right, Im Australian. Within months I met a 22 year old Boy. He was sooo hot, so we dated. I found out I was pregnant after 3 months together. I knew the consequences of unprotected sex but ignored them. Where was I to go for Birth Control? I had no idea how it worked in the US and plus anything to do with Medical was expensive (when its free in Australia).

    My boyfriend researched and found the local Planned Parenthood. I was 11 weeks pregnant, had morning sickness and cried the day before the surgery. I said Good Bye to my baby and knew it was going to the right decision for both baby and me. Why was my decision right? My boyfriend was American with no job, I was an Australian and was only legal to live in the US for 3 years without work (it was even illegal for me to volunteer!)I had no rights and I had no money for a plane trip back home.

    My boyfriend held my hand during the whole surgery. I screamed and I cried. Once it was over I felt a huge weight off my shoulders. I promised myself that i would work hard to set my life up before I concieve another baby. My other promise to myself was to make other teens know about the conquenses of sex and how important sex education is.

    Im now almost 24 years old, im back in Australia and married to a different American guy. We have a gorgeous baby girl and I could not be happier. I never tell anyone about my abortion at the fear of nobody understanding. Its makes me sad because having an abortion turned a major corner for me.Thanks for reading. Sarah

  24. I had an abortion when I was 14, I didn’t really know the father, it wasn’t what you would call consensual sex, but it also wasn’t considered rape (at least to the powers that be). I didn’t know I was pregnant for months, my school completely lacked sex education and I thought my lack of period was from spending time at my father’s house (I usually lived with my mom). When I did find out I was pregnant I had no idea what to do or who to turn to. I ended up telling my mom and we talked about my options and she supported my decision to have an abortion. The closet clinic was an hour and a half away, we had to go there twice, once for a meeting and once for the actual abortion. Outside the clinic was packed with protesters with signs picturing hacked up fetuses, they screamed at our car as we drove up. Inside the clinic was very supportive, they had very nice counselors and journals on all the tables of patients abortion stories. Those stories are what got me through. There were books and books filled with hand written anonymous stories about women and girls going through the same thing I was going through. The abortion was quick and painless. I have never once regretted having an abortion. I have never wondered “what could have been”. I finished high school, got my BA and I am currently working on my PhD. I never could have done that if I didn’t have the abortion.
    Stories like these are so important. It is important to validate ourselves, to share our stories, to stop feeling like it is this dirty little secret we have to hide and be ashamed of. Keep telling your stories, to anyone who will listen!

  25. I’ve had four abortions. Yes, four. And I’m not even 30 yet.

    My first was when I was 19. I was date-raped by a co-worker who slipped me a roofie at a work party one night. He agreed to pay half and even drove me to one of the few clinics in Alabama at the time. It was around the holidays and he gave me a stuffed snowman as a sort of apology. I ripped that damn snowman into shreds the next day in a fit of anger and tears.

    My second abortion was the result of a year-long violent relationship, at age 21. I won’t go into too many gory details other than to say that it was Christmas Eve and he nearly bashed my skull in with a heavy wooden chair before slamming me against the wall and raping me. I finally found the courage and opportunity to escape this abuser (he always hid the car keys and money, so I was trapped in my own home). Although he once told me if I aborted our baby, he’d strangle me to death before moving on to shoot down each and every one of my family members, I knew it had to be done. I was 4.5 months into the pregnancy, but fortunately my mom went with me for this scary procedure. I lived in fear of the jerk for several years and still have panic attacks and nightmares, even 8 years later. My 3-month ultrasound is buried in a filing cabinet that I refuse to open for fear of seeing that image again.

    My third and fourth abortions were in 2008 – One in July and one in August. I was on oral contraceptive and for some reason birth control failed me that year. These were not random hook-ups – I got pregnant by my then-fiancee.

    On the third pregnancy I had a threatened miscarriage complete with a heavy flow of blood and painful contractions. I went to the ER thinking I had actually miscarried, but the doctor said the baby was still alive – just with a dangerously slow heartbeat. When the doctor started to write me a script for prenatal vitamins, I stopped him by saying I was going to have an abortion anyway. We were an overeducated but underemployed couple, too poor to even feed our cats at times. The doctor grimaced, it being the Deep South and all.

    The fourth abortion sent my fiancee over the edge. He couldn’t handle the pain of “losing” two of his would-be children, so he left. It took me a long time to get over the break-up but one day I realized that as much as he cried over the abortions, he never once asked me MY feelings. I’m glad to be rid of the narcissist.

    I will not have a fifth abortion. I’ve traded the unreliable birth control for abstinence (for now, at least) while I focus on settling into my career. After four pregnancies my body has changed dramatically. My hips are wider, and I went from a 34B to a 34DD bra size within a six-month period.

    I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done – I’m embarrassed about the rape and the abusive relationship – And I’m pissed that my birth control didn’t work right – But down here in the Bible Belt I cannot tell anyone about my past. Not a soul. So thanks for letting me share here.

  26. I got pregnant in the back of a chevy van back in 1978. I went to birthright for the free pregnancy test, and I had to sit through two hours of anti-abortion pictures. At that point, I didn’t want an abortion, just a decision on my pregnancy status. I was. I checked out all the agencies, where to adopt, etc…, but thought I might keep the baby. My boyfriend had dumped me, and I was a sophmore in college, but where I grew up in rural MN, that’s what you did. You had the baby, and either gave it up for adoption, or kept it. Abortion wasn’t an option.

    Just as I had finally made all these decisions, I fell hard one day with a heavy table falling on top of me. I went into labor, and a few days later the child was born live, but premature. People told me I was lucky too. No one said “I’m sorry for your loss.” Everyone felt a sigh of relief, including me, but I was devastated. The doctor never showed for the delivery. The nurse delivered the baby. She came in a few hours after birth and explained that I was bleeding and had to have surgery, that the baby died and I had to call an undertaker because it was larger than their incinerator would allow. I was freaking out. It had barely registered that I delivered, much less than having to absorb undertakers and surgeons. A nun came in to baptise my baby.

    I called my mom (who didn’t even know I was in the hospital) and she took care of the rest. The local undertaker came to the hospital for free to get the body, my father made a casket, my mom made an outfit, a blanket and pillow for the casket, and the church gave me a burial plot and my uncle dug the grave. They were unbelievably supportive. Very welcome, after trauma of the hospital. I had anxiety attacks for a year after this. And did I mention I was poor, and on welfare? I got out of that hospital in record time. They didn’t even give me a copy of the birth certificate or a picture.

    I got pregnant the following year, and this time was clear about having an abortion. No way was I going through that pain again. Even now, over thirty years later, I still feel angry about the hospital treatment. I have no regrets about having an abortion at planned parenthood. The gave me counseling, they taught me about birth control, they did a follow up assessment. They were fantastic. I learned how to control my body. I felt like a real human being, not an out of control teen who was just lucky that God took my baby early. I hope I never see that doctor again.

    Now I counsel women who are making these tough decisions. No one ever decides what to do lightly. If anyone wants a good read, check out “The women who went away: the years before Roe v Wade.” Excellent.

  27. I have had two abortions. Both from the same man. The first time, my reason was because we had been together for only 2 months. I was on my way to get the pill, and found out I was pregnant. I was 19 years old, barely moved out of my parents’ house because we got in a fight, and in with my boyfriend. I was also working and going to school. The decision came easy for me. Get an abortion. I got the surgical abortion, and my boyfriend helped me pay for it. The day I had my appointment, my boyfriend drove me, but it was at the wrong location. He dropped me off because he had class to go to, so I took a cab to the right location. Because I showed up alone, I wasn’t able to get on anesthesia. The pain was UNBEARABLE.

    Two years later, I told my boyfriend I no longer wanted to take the pill because my stamina was worsening. I felt that if I got off of the pill all together, I would feel better and have more energy. He agreed, but would constantly “forget” to pull out or use a condom. I got pregnant a few months later. We went to Texas to visit some of my family and he flew back out to Los Angeles before I flew back out to San Diego. I found out I was pregnant before my flight, and was excited for the first time about being pregnant. We had been together for 2 years, and were talking about the possibility of getting married. I got to San Diego before he did, because he had to take a train from Los Angeles to San Diego. The long day had him upset, and was upset at the fact that I was 2 minutes late picking him up at the station. I drove him home and fought the entire time. We fight when we get back to his place, and I dropped the bomb on him. I’m pregnant. He took a deep breath. “You have to take care of this problem.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I go to Planned Parenthood. I decide to go with the medical abortion. More expensive, but safer, and I can do it at home. I broke up with him before I had the abortion, and he helped me pay for half of it.

    I sort of regret my decision, but at the same am thankful for my choice. I do want children, I did want the child from my last abortion, but after my boyfriend displayed his true colors, I didn’t want anything to do with him or anything remotely related to him.

  28. I support abortion rights for many many reasons, but I cant help but say- That we should never forget to target the source of the problem. Preventing unwanted pregnancies before they happen. Pro-choice voices need to cry out just as loudly for sex ed in schools and birth control options that don’t put the lives of women at risk.

  29. Not your typical abortion story…I was married, to a man I had been with for 7.5 years. We’d only been married for 1. It was a long hard road filled with heartache over him not wanting kids. I left him briefly and it was then, he agreed to marry me. We talked about getting pregnant, and we started trying for about three months. We weren’t successful. He was opening his own business, and he convinced me that it just wasn’t the right time for us to have a baby. I fell into a deep depression. Three months later, on complete accident, I got pregnant. When I told him, he was not happy about it, and asked me to have an abortion. I was stunned, humiliated, and heartbroken. He couldn’t even afford to pay for it, so I had to borrow half of the money from my best friend. When I went in for my appointment, he left me there to go get lunch. When they did my ultrasound, I was 8 weeks along, and she said she saw two embryos. I texted him to tell him about it, and he replied, “Even more reason to do it”. After the procedure was over, I went to the recovery room. My body didn’t respond like the other women’s bodies had, so they did another ultrasound. They had to repeat the procedure because it had not been completely removed. I don’t think I’ve ever cried the way I did that day, not because I felt I was doing the wrong thing, but because of how I came to that place. My marriage ended that day, and we were divorced soon after. I never thought I would be placed in the position I was that day, and I definitely never thought I would be married when it did. I do not regret my decision to have the abortion, but I do regret marrying a man that didn’t love me.

  30. Also, just to let you know…I met a wonderful man later that year, and I now have two beautiful kids with him, four years later!

  31. Carol
    Thanks for getting this party started. Positive experiences with the choice of abortion abound and, expressed by such smart women, they need to drown out the crazy naysayers so we keep the rights we’ve already earned!

  32. You know how when you’re young, and perhaps you had a crummy father figure, and you’re too young to realize just how much men are lusting after you, and you feel pressured to have sex because you simply want to please people?

    Well, maybe that isn’t a universal experience, but that was definitely me when I was 18.

    I had just started working at a coffee shop, part time, making $6.25 an hour. My mother had recently kicked me out of the house for finding marijuana parephrenlia in my backpack. I was sleeping on my friend’s floor, on an old bunkbed mattress. I thought it was a cool idea to get an apartment with one of the guys that I worked with. (Yet did not realize he just wanted to bone me, of course… the lengths men will go to….) After looking at an apartment one day, we went back to his parent’s place to smoke pot. I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, but, like I said, coming from an emotionally abusive household I was a chronic people- pleaser. He propositioned me for sex, and I of course complied, just as i had with any man that has asked me since I was 15.

    We used a condom. The sex was short, rough and unpleasant. When we were finished he said,”its in you.”–meaning the condom had come off and was inside of me.

    A few weeks and a missed period later, I was visiting my sister in college. While riding in the car there, my friends and I were inhaling nitrous and smoking pot the whole way.

    The next day, I just knew that I was pregnant. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I went to walgreens with a friend to buy the test. It was positive, of course. We went down by the lake and I cried my eyes out for a few hours.

    The next couple of months were tumultous. I was still sleeping on my friend’s floor. I had been raised strict republican, quasi-christian by my insane parents and I was committed to keeping the baby. However, I had no clue that maybe I should be saving my utterly pitiful paychecks ($150 a week was a lot of money to a poor kid, but wasn’t nearly enough to raise a child) toward taking care of the baby. I had no concept of the future, or of personal responsibility.

    5 or 6 of my close friends actually staged an intervention with me to convince me to have an abortion. They typed out a list of reasons of why they thought I wasn’t going to be a fit parent.”She can’t save money” “The father does drugs” and so on. I screamed at them, ran into the next room, slammed the door and cried. Why couldn’t they understand that I just wanted to keep my baby? My friend’s mother also tried to convince me to abort, and offered to pay for it, too. But my head was in the clouds, fantasizing about a life with a child that I had no actual means to provide.

    Towards the end of the third trimester was my 19th birthday. We threw a party and invited a lot of friends. I was starting to show just a little. Leading up until this point, the father and I were hanging out. He called me his girlfriend, but I didn’t like him at all. We were looking for places to live, but it was my intention that we would just raise the baby together, not actually be together romantically. I also found out, during this time, that he had another child whose mother would not let him see. I didn’t know why, though.

    At the party, a friend of ours pulled me aside and told me that the father also had another ex girlfriend whom he got pregnant. He didn’t know she was pregnant, and had beat her up and given her a miscarriage. I was suddenly shocked and scared. I had three more days before my second trimester would start. The clock was ticking before a much more expensive, invasive, and controversial abortion would be required.

    My sister was also at the party. I had invited a friend of hers to come, a woman who had a son, and I asked her why she wasn’t there. My sister said “She couldn’t find someone to watch her baby”. Upon hearing that, was the very moment I decided to have the abortion. The culmination of events that evening had really sealed the deal.

    The day after my 19th birthday my friend’s mother took me to have the procedure. I was put under so that I wouldn’t know what was going on. I was told to come back in three weeks for a follow-up appointment, but I never did. Remember what I said about personal responsibility? I had none.

    Can you imagine the kind of life that child and I would have had? Connected to that horrible man for a father, me, uneducated and unable to care even for myself, clueless about adulthood and money? I never would have gone to college, much less have been able to hold steady jobs and build a career.

    For a few months after the abortion, I sat around and cried a lot. I felt guilty, even though I knew I had no other choice. Adoption? How could i have carried a baby to term just to hand it over to a stranger? Plus, the baby would have been mixed race, and they aren’t such a hot commodity on the adoption “market”, I’m sorry to say.

    Now, ten years later, I am am married to a very intelligent, upstanding and might I say sexy-as-hell man. In this time I have learned so much about life, many things that would actually benefit a child’s life, rather than hinder it. We’re planning to have a baby as soon as he gets his master’s degree. I’m not saying that I feel warm and fuzzy about the abortion, but I do respect and admire my younger self for having the guts to do what was absolutely the right thing.

    When I see those loony pro-lifers with their signs showing graphic pictures of partial-birth abortions, I just want to say to them “why not show pictures of abused, neglected, starving, sick, sad and unwanted children? actual, conscious people who have to fend for themselves on this crowded and overwhelmed planet?” Makes absolutely no sense from a logical standpoint.

  33. I’m sorry… 9th paragraph should start “toward the end of my first trimester” of course!

  34. I used to work at a Domestic Violence services agency. It was a difficult place to work for so many reasons. Being surrounded by violence and pain can bring out the best and worst in folks. Social service providers are no different in this. For some time my husband and I had been trying to conceive, although at the time we were not married. I did not talk about it at work. Few of the other women there who were at my job level were married and none had children. They joked often about being glad to get their periods and about loving kids as long as they belonged to some one else; typical young professional talk that nonetheless left me feeling that it would not be good for me to share about this struggle there. When I did finally get pregnant I also got into trouble at work. An employee who had been having a lot of problems tried to deflect her trouble by accusing me of sexually harassing her. I was devastated. Perhaps it was the stress of the time, perhaps the pregnancy simply was not viable; shortly after being exonerated I miscarried. I took a couple of days off from work, and upon my return I said nothing. Still things seemed to change, slowly I became isolated from my colleagues. The camaraderie and support were no longer there, then again neither were the jokes about periods and pregnancy. Years later I discovered that someone higher up in the agency realized that I had been pregnant – I guess the morning sickness gave me away- and told folks I had an abortion. I think the greatest shock was the judgment that came at me from my ex-colleagues. I am not sure if it was because they thought I had an abortion, or they thought I had done it secretly. I never really figured out how to ask (I also assumed they would deny it, not entirely fair of me in retrospect). What I really find hard to take is that these are women who are committed to working with other women, to ending violence against women in all it’s forms. These are feminists. These are folks who have a stated commitment to reproductive choice, but they still judge. I realize that in keeping silent about both my desire to have children in spite of not being married and about my miscarriage I aided and abetted in that judgment. To paraphrase a personal hero, my silence did not protect me. That is why I love Ms. Magazine for offering folks the opportunity to tell their abortion story, or in my case the “oh my god, did you hear she had an abortion, not that there is anything wrong with that but really, it speaks to her character in such a way” story. Speaking and listening can kill the stigma. Thanks.

  35. I am 23 years old and I have a 2 year old daughter already that I am absolutely in love with. I am currently married but legally seperated and will be divorced next month. In the midst of our seperation I started dating another guy for about 3 or 4 months. Of course I got pregnant but did not find out until after we had decided not to see each other any more. He is now with someone new as is my husband ( the woman he cheated on me with). I have been back and forth for sometime on whether or not to abort this baby, I am about 11 wks along. The father of it wants me to and part of me wants to bc of my daughter and bc for some crazy reason I still love my husband and I never know what will happen for the two of us by the way he talks. I am having a hard time as it is to support the daughter i have and I dont want to take away from her for a new baby that i truly cannot support. At the same time i do want another child someday when I am ready but I am scared that if i do this I will not be able to concieve again( given all the risks and complications I have read about) But I also wonder sometimes if this is for a reason, I’m just really scared and not sure what to do, someone please give me some advice!!!!!

  36. Re: Shanna, I am sorry to hear about your situation. Making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy is difficult but one thing you should know is that abortion is safer than childbirth. It is a low risk procedure, especially one in the first trimester (13 weeks). You don’t have to take my word for it, you can check the web site of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists at http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp043.cfm.

    If you are uncertain about what to do, you may want to consult the Pregnancy Options Workbook. You can find it at http://www.pregnancyoptions.info/. It is used by a number of clinics to help women in their decision-making. If you want to talk to someone, you might want to try Imagine Counseling. You can find out about their services at http://www.imaginecounseling.com/index.php.

    Whatever you decide, it’s your choice. Good luck.

  37. I was 19 and had recently broken up with my boyfriend. I absolutely knew that I could not have a child. The father had only worked a couple months out of our two year relationship while I was working two jobs and just starting college. Most importantly, I had been a Type 1 Diabetic for 16 years, with admittedly bad control of my blood sugars. Even if it was possible to carry the child to term, there was a very high risk of birth defects, and my pregnancy from the beginning was abnormal (severe cramping that would cause me to wake up and cry during the night).

    Not being a fan of hospitals, I sought alternative methods to abortion such as herbs and vitamin c. I did not attempt anything with Pennyroyal or the like because the risk seemed too high. I intentionally took less care of my diabetes and did an assortment of drugs in an attempt to create an unsuitable environment for the fetus. I knew it was an unhealthy decision, but they were risks I was willing to take to avoid the possible trauma/discomfort of a surgical abortion.

    After a couple weeks without miscarriage, I was entirely too scared of having a baby to leave my condition up to risky factors, and scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood. I paid about $200 and received an ultrasound (which concluded that I was five and a half weeks pregnant) and a blood test. After telling them I was diabetic, they would not begin any procedure without my medical records, which I hadn’t prepared and couldn’t get that day. I rescheduled for a week later, allowing plenty of time for Planned Parenthood to receive the documentation they needed to determine it was safe for me to have an abortion.

    A few days later, before my rescheduled appointment, I miscarried. It was the biggest relief of my life, as I was very anxious during the (lifelong) six weeks I was pregnant. I am aware now of my recklessness (I was having unprotected sex at the time without being on birth control) and certainly have learned from my mistakes.

    I am lucky to live in a liberal state with easy access to abortion. I acknowledge and am thankful for this, but ultimately am most glad that I did not have to use these services. Since I am now considering having my tubes tied, I am grateful for the experience. Not only for the pregnancy itself, but also the miscarriage. I learned a lot about my body.

  38. About three years ago, I started working with a young man who I thought was the bees knees. A month later we were in a relationship. A month after that I found out he was cheating me with his roommate as well as his ex wife. I broke up with him. Two weeks after that I took him back with promises to be better. Because I broke up with him, I became lazy with my birth control. Not realizing that I was no longer having periods because I was so concerned with trying to control my boyfriend, two more months went by. When I found out that I was carrying this man’s child, my life suddenly became very clear. I knew I would have an abortion. I knew that I had to get out of this detrimental relationship. If I couldn’t trust having a child with this man, how could I trust myself being with him.

    When the time came for the surgery, I asked him to come support me. He was sleeping with another girl that morning.

    I don’t regret my final decision. I do regret staying with that man. I regret the two years after were I continued to date jerks that got me drunk, then cheated on me.

    I am just now refinding myself, and knowing that I am stronger then what these men seem to think. I hope no woman ever has to feel that they aren’t worth being.

  39. In 1996, I was 15 and had a surgical abortion, with the support of my father who wanted to give me a second chance for college and a better life. That is how I always looked at it as well. Though I have always had a feeling of guilt for aborting my child, I knew at 15 that I would not be a good mother. My boyfriend at the time (my highschool sweetheart) stood by my side and supported my decision. We married in 2003 and now have 2 daughters, 7 and 3.
    Just last week we found out we are pregnant again (unexpected), I had taken a morning after pill. We have discussed our options and once again he says that he will support my decision what ever it is. I have decided to not continue with this pregnancy. 6 months ago I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and I have circulatory problems in my legs. Though I am already feeling the guilt of the decision I am making, I must focus on my health so that I can continue to raise my two daughters and be around for them. My previous pregnancies have taken a huge toll on my body and I fear another pregnancy could result in a worsening condition in my spine.
    I have looked into the procedures offered now, and I am quite confused at which to choose, medical or surgical. I had a positive surgical experience in the past and I have read so many negative experiences with the medicinal procedure.
    Regardless, I have lived with my past abortion and I know I made the right choice then. I also know I am making the right choice now for my own health and for my family. I do feel that every woman should have the right to choose what happens to their body.

  40. I had my abortion 3 years ago (2007) when I was 22. My boyfriend(who was 15 years older than me) and I just started dating "officially" (I was his lover for a year, because he had a girlfriend, then they broke up and he started dating me). I was happy, because I thought he would be happy, too. Few months prior the real pregnancy I already though once that I was pregnant, but it was only my period messing with me. He said : "I was hoping you were pregnant". So when it was for real, I was happy to announce the news, but he gout cold feet. He said he was not ready financially nor emotionally, and he convinced me to get an abortion. I was very-very depressed, I wanted to keep the pregnancy, and it was very hard to go to the uldtra sounds and see the the pictures and know that it wouldn't last. The last ultra-sound was the most shocking experience in my life. I went to the hospital with my decision, I told the doctor that I made up my mind, I want the abortion, and you know what? When he looked at the ultra sound, he realized that there were TWO BABIES!!!! TWINS!!!!!!! I started to cry, I couldn't speak, I couldn't do anything, I just cried hysterically. The doctor asked if I was sure about my decision, and I just nodded, shaking like a leaf. I asked him if he could do the abortion, cause I really trusted him and he was very nice to me and also he was the gynecologist to a few friends of mine, so they suggested him. This was in Hungary, Europe, where I was a student . Abortion there is very accepted (I'm not sure though if it is very good), and is done in the hospital, by gynecologists. I had a student insurance, but I still had to pay some money. The abortion itself was even more painless then a mosquito bite. The day before the abortion I had to stay at the hospital, and they inserted a little stick into my cervix that got wider from the heat of my body and allowed the cervix to expand a little bit before the abortion., so the doctor can be more gentle when expanding the cervix during the procedure. They only do this to those who have never had an abortion or given birth before. There were at least three people in the operating room, one anesthesiologist, one nurse and the doctor. I was put out, and when I woke up I didn't feel pain at all. I had just a little bleeding after, and continued to have NO pain at all. They let me stay at the hospital for one night, just to make sure everything was okay. They would have let me go home, but they recommended to stay for one night. The nurses were great, very nice and very supportive. I got antibiotics just to prevent inflammation, and I was all set. But this is just the physical part. I had no problems with that. BUT!
    The psychological experience is something I can't express with words. I was so depressed, I couldn't stop crying, all the nurses and all the other patients were trying to comfort me with no success whatsoever. I woke up crying during the night, I started crying just after waking up in the morning, and I cried myself to sleep at bedtime. I was feeling shame, anger, regret, pity, I was mad at myself for being so unresponsible getting pregnant, I was mad at my boyfriend for not wanting the babies, I was feeling fear, like what if I can't have babies anymore, I was feeling sorry for the babies, and so on. Trying to make me feel better, my boyfriend and I got married two months after the abortion. Now I know that it was a very stupid decision and if II hadn't been so depressed and would have seen everything clearly and wouldn't have married him. We could only blame each other for everything, and few months later he started to go back to the ex-girlfriend. Then I came to Canada, got divorced and now I have a great, working relationship with a single dad. I haven't told him I've had the abortion. Maybe I never will. I don't think he has to know. He wants more kids, he wants to live with me, he loves me very much, and I am so scared what if I can't have children anymore. He finds it cute, that my new hobby is reborn doll making… He doesn't have to know, that it is a weird way of my natural mothering instincts braking out. Also he loves how I get along with his son, and doesn't know that of course I'm so attached to that little boy, because maybe he is the only child I will have around.
    Girls, women out there, don't consider abortion as an alternative birth control!!!!!!!!!! It is a solution for an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy, but you take a huge risk, and the price could be your fertility or your life!!! Learn from other people's mistakes, and be wise when it comes to family planning. There are all kinds of birth controls out there and you will sure find the one that's perfect for you!! Don't even give a chance to unwanted pregnancy!!!! Be conscious, no matter where you are, a camping, a house party, say no to sex if you are going to have unprotected sex. Yes, say no. NO ORGASM CAN BE THAT GOOD TO MAKE UP TO AN ABORTION!!!!!!!!! Remember this….

  41. Happiness says:

    Hi everyone!, read this is you are planning on having an abortion or still confused….

    I had my first abortion in July 2010 at Planned Parenthood. The week before my abortion was the worst week of my life because I couldn’t believe I had something growing inside of me, it was scary. But the day of my abortion was the best day of my life. Why? I made the right choice for MYSELF and not anyone else. My life would be completely different if I hadn’t made this decision.

    Here’s what happened:

    I was on the “ring” which is a type of birth control and I guess I wasn’t using it correctly or I just got pregnant anyway. Needless to say I was 15 weeks pregnant without even knowing it. I would throw up my food and the smell of meat would just make me cringe. I could only eat yogurt, lots of ice cream, craved sushi…anything that would go down easily. This seemed fishy so I took a couple pregnancy and behold I was pregnant. My first reaction was sadness and TEARS. I cried for what seemed like an entire day. I was then angry with myself for not being more responsible with my medication or the :ring: (fuck that I’m on the pill now) I told my fiancee and said I wanted an abortion and he said he would pay for it. We love eachother so much and of course this was hard for both of us to go through because we had been together for 5 years but we were not ready to support another life hands down. I didn’t want it. He also cried when I told him. It was so bad. Anyway…my best friend supported me when I was going through this because she had had one aswell years ago. I told her I was scared but she made me realize, once again, I was making the right decision and to be strong. I had my whole life ahead of me! I wanted a career and the freedom to travel for a long while and not be tied down to this life that I could create at ANY TIME. I made the appointment the DAY I found out and it was a week away.

    If I was any weaker I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it because it takes some balls to get this procedure done. I chose the suction removal procedure which seemed quick and easy. When my fiancee and I arrived at the clinic there were a bunch of girls there getting the same procedure done. Believe it or not…I was so HAPPY the day of my procedure arrived. I was cracking jokes about it just to get through the waiting process…I was…EXCITED. If you think about it too much you will back down so DON’T think so much. Think of the consequences first.

    When it was my turn I laid down and the nurse held my hand. The female doctor came in to start the procedure and she was almost like an angel sent down from heaven to end a life in order to save my own. This is how I felt. The procedure was weird and a little painful but it was over before I knew it. It’s definitely safe at PP, I recommend that place.

    They gave me pain meds and I rested for the rest of the day.I will never regret doing this at the age of 25 when I had my whole like ahead of me. I am almost 26 with an awesome career, new place to live and still with my fiancee. We adopted a pound puppy and she is an angel. My life is on the right path and maybe one day I will plan to give birth when I’m READY and I want it. Maybe I never will want one. But right now I am proud of the decision I made at that particular time in my life. Remember, we have CHOICES. God bless America.

    -Happiness is choice

    • Jaqueline says:

      Hello Happiness. I want to thank you for sharing your story and offering your kind words. I am currently waiting for the appt i have set up tomorrow. I am also 15 weeks along and am ancy about the procedure and what to expect. I know this is the right decision. The overall experience has been a little hard. As for the pain you said it wasn’t to bad?? Thanks for your time. And any other words of advice u may have would be appreciated

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