Last summer, the Supreme Court overturned the longstanding precedents of Roe v. Wade, representing the largest blow to women’s constitutional rights in history. A series from Ms., Our Abortion Stories, chronicles readers’ experiences of abortion pre- and post-Roe. Abortions are sought by a wide range of people, for many different reasons. There is no single story. Telling stories of then and now shows how critical abortion has been and continues to be for women and girls.
The fall of Roe will strain abortion access nationwide. We cannot, we must not, lose the right to safe and accessible abortion or access to birth control.
Share your abortion story by emailing email@example.com.
Editor’s note: These stories have been excerpted and lightly edited for clarity.
“Earlier this year I was heartbroken to find out the child I was carrying would be born with a genetic condition detrimental to his health. I had an abortion to save him from the pain he would experience. I was hesitant at first but knew this was the right and only choice. Other parents experiencing the same should have the choice to have a TFMR [termination for medical reasons].”—Melissa
I was worried I’d accidentally poisoned myself, but refused to get help. I was fortunate enough that the concoction worked. … I’m so glad I had an abortion. I only wish that I could have had medical help, instead of having to trust a recipe I found on the internet.Lily
“I grew up really poor. Eating out of dumpsters, being a homeless child living in a van. Eventually my mom got her act together and got us an apartment in a really bad area of town. I ended up developing a drug addiction. By the age of 11, I was using cocaine, and all sorts of crazy hallucinogens. My older friends and I would have parties where we would just take all the drugs out of our parent’s medicine cabinets. By the age of 12, I had a strong addiction to methamphetamine and became a child prostitute. I was raped repeatedly. By the age of 14, I decided to get clean and found my way into foster care. Shortly thereafter, I found myself to be pregnant. In the state of Arizona, I was not able to go and get an abortion without parental consent, and since I was in foster care, it made it even more complicated and next to impossible.
“I remember searching on dial-up internet, impatiently waiting for pages to load, to figure out how to do an abortion myself. I remember not wanting to do a bleach douche. I didn’t have the nerves to stick something inside my uterus, and the probability of being able to abort after being beaten up or thrown down stairs wasn’t high enough for me to consider those options. I found a recipe online for concoction that I could make it home and drink. It took me a couple weeks to get all the ingredients together. I waited until no one was home, and drank the disgusting brew.
“A couple hours later I was in agonizing pain. My stomach hurt with the most painful cramps I had experienced at the time. I was worried that maybe I’d accidentally poisoned myself, but refused to go and get help. I was fortunate enough that the concoction worked. Eventually a strange looking mass of cells came out of my vagina. It was only a few inches long, and you could tell where the head was eventually going to be. I was a child recovering from a drug addiction, struggling not to go into another relapse, having an abortion in the bathroom of my foster home. I never talked to anybody about it. I’m so glad I had an abortion.
“I only wish that I could have had medical help, instead of having to trust a recipe I found on the internet. The person I was then, and the things that I was struggling with, I could not have been a mother. I know that I would have hid the pregnancy and it probably would have been another dumpster baby. I couldn’t even see myself as a person, let alone bring another being to the world. Now I am in my thirties, have an amazing husband and an incredible son. I own a very successful business that I started by myself with only $1,000. I had an abortion. No one should have to go to the lengths that I did so they can live a full and complete life.”—Lily
I felt so alone, depressed and anxious, and I think a lot of that could had been avoided if I had received more support. If you’re going through it, I promise it gets easier, it just takes time.Mimi
“My partner and I were not ready. It was one of hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m writing this because today I realized that I don’t think about it very often anymore. If I do think about it, I seem to feel okay and I feel at peace with the decision I made. Maybe 6 months after it happened, I realized it wasn’t a good or a bad decision- that in fact it was just ‘a’ decision.
“I am sharing this because I had no idea that the grief would be so huge, so overwhelming and a grief now one offered much support towards. I don’t regret my decision at all, but I really wish I had the support I needed to get through what was a very dark time. I wish people understood some people who have abortions can experience significant grief, and that it doesn’t go away after a few weeks. I felt so alone, depressed and anxious, and I think a lot of that could had been avoided if I had received more support.
“If you’re going through it, I promise it gets easier, it just takes time. Be kind to yourself and talk to someone you trust because you don’t have to carry the load all alone.”—Mimi
Because abortion is political, and essentially our decision was regulated, we had one day to make the hardest decision of our lives.Ellen
“Leo is our first baby. March 2019 we found out we were expecting. We were so excited and started to imagine what our family would look like with the new addition.
“All appointments went well until the 20-week anatomy scan. We came away from that appointment completely confused and anxious. We were told Leo had a 2-vessel umbilical cord when there should be 3. This was a red flag and they referred us to a larger hospital for a detailed ultrasound. That ultrasound confirmed that Leo had severe, unsurvivable fetal anomalies (missing his stomach and parts of his heart and brain, among other things). Through amniocentesis he was eventually diagnosed with Trisomy 18. We were absolutely devastated. In a little hospital room we sat together and grieved our son.
“When we were ready, a genetic counselor sat us down to talk options. These options included terminating the pregnancy or continuing the pregnancy knowing Leo had 0% chance of survival. It was with the purest love and compassion we decided to make the hardest decision we’ve ever made and terminate the pregnancy. Because abortion is political, and essentially our decision was regulated, we had one day to make the hardest decision of our lives. ONE DAY. In Iowa (like many states) you can’t receive an abortion after 22 weeks. On top of the incredible stress of making a life-altering decision in one day, we were also informed about the cost. The procedure could be done at the hospital for around $15,000 or a more accessible option at Planned Parenthood. The closest Planned Parenthood was in Chicago—which is in a completely different state about 3.5 hours away.
“This is because conservative politicians find women’s health facilities like Planned Parenthood ‘abhorrent’ and seemingly revel in the fact that their female constituents have little to no options for affordable health care. When calling Planned Parenthood, they were justifiably so busy they couldn’t get us in until a few weeks later. Again, because abortions are regulated we couldn’t wait that long or it would become illegal. And the last part is insurance companies likely won’t cover any of it, even if your baby has unsurvivable anomalies. We had to make a life altering decision, scrounge up an insane amount of money and grieve our baby in one day. This process is completely insane and cruel. Leo would be 2 this November and I struggle frequently, but I have to believe he existed and this life experience exists to bring empathy to this subject.
“Why a woman or couple chooses abortion is no one’s business, it is incredibly personal. Politicians have no place in this conversation. It’s not black and white. Humanize the right to choose.”—Ellen
“In August 2012, I just graduated from college, started my professional career at a government agency, and moved in with three roommates. I also found out I was 2 1/2 months pregnant. I already knew what my decision was. I used my choice and decided to terminate my pregnancy. I went to Planned Parenthood in DC with my partner.
“In the waiting room, I felt like had inflicted a self-derogatory mark or scarlet letter on myself because I was getting an abortion. In my case, I knew being a parent wasn’t for me at the time. I wanted to pursue my career, be a more established parent, and couldn’t afford a child. As I thought about my choice, I became more affirmed. I had 3 roommates in a three-bedroom apartment. The crib couldn’t go in the living room. I was eliminating a cycle of poverty. I was the only person employed in my relationship. My partner was a 5th year senior in college. We couldn’t afford a child on my salary alone.
“I didn’t see a foreseeable future with that partner, we never talked about having kids and we wouldn’t make a good parenting team. Most importantly I was affirmed in my values. Providing the best life for my child as a financially stable, older, and more established parent. My doctor gave me pills for the medication abortion, a prescription for birth control, and medical school advice.
“Six years later, I’m a career woman, a Master’s of Public Health candidate, and a future doctor. I’m also in a loving relationship with a partner with whom I foresee a future. In my experience at Planned Parenthood, I received the best care possible and exercised my choice.”—Brittany
These stories were told to Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth—two organizations collecting and sharing abortion stories. Share your story with Ms. by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.