What follows are reader-submitted stories about their abortions. They were shared in response to my recent call for submissions on elephant journal and were originally published there. I wanted to share them here too because this is such an important topic. In asking for the stories, I hope to open the abortion debate into more than a black and white issue about who is right and who is wrong. Rather, it’s a reminder of our shared humanity, and that the people who go through with an abortion are real people who are often times faced with an impossible choice. Thanks to those who chose to share.
Some of the names in the stories have been changed at the request of the submitter.
I was 22 and in a relationship that was on its last leg—I had finally found the courage to leave. Something wasn’t quite right and after analyzing a calendar, I realized I was late. I bought a pregnancy test, took it right away and sobbed when I saw that plus sign.
I felt cursed, scared, alone and trapped.
I scheduled my abortion at the only private clinic in a city two hours away, because abortion isn’t allowed to be performed in the hospitals in my province unless you have mental or physical reasons to abort (which goes on your permanent medical records). So off I went to the abortion clinic, where I had to dish out almost every cent I had to have the procedure done. I was in a room, scared, with about four other women who also looked scared.
None of us made eye contact.
I was asked to go into another room and told to lie down on the table. The doctor was very nice and made me feel at ease. The nurse gave me gas and told me to breathe deep. I did and she held my hand. The doctor preformed the procedure while I laid high as a kite with The Gypsy Kings playing in the background. To this day, when I hear The Gypsy Kings I am brought back to that day.
It was fast and painless. They brought me to another room where they fed me toast and orange juice and observed me for 20 minutes. I was ready to go and headed to the waiting room to meet the guy I was going to break up with the next day. We walked out of the clinic together and needed an escort to push away pro-life protesters who stood outside the clinic handing out pamphlets and calling us sinners.
This was the hardest part of the whole procedure—they made me so angry.
We drove away and after the shock of being called a sinner wore off, I put my head back and felt free, knowing I had made the right decision.
To this day, 10 years later, I feel no regrets.
I am 63 years old and got knocked up in 1968. I was 18 and abortion was not legal yet.
It was the second time I’d had sex; I was never told about anything really. That’s no excuse, but I’m just telling like it was. I had to tell my mom. She slapped me with a brush across my face. Mind you she’d never laid a hand on me, but she was pissed and upset, wondering how I could do that.
Good question ma.
I didn’t want a baby. I loved the boy who got me pregnant—he was my first love and I did ask him for money. We didn’t have a lot and he was very sweet and kind and gave me $500. I think it might have cost under a grand, but there was airfare and hotels, etc.
My mom called her sister who told us about a clinic in Juarez, Mexico.
I think we met my sister in Texas, but I can’t really remember. I do remember that we were picked up by a black limo and taken to a clinic. It seemed clean and they were nice. I wanted my sister with me and they said okay, but then they gave me that gas and my sister got all woozy and fainted. Then the doctor started the abortion.
I was under the gas and aware but unable to do anything when he started to fondle me and put his finger in me—I couldn’t do anything. It was really pretty awful.
Then it was over, I wasn’t pregnant anymore and it was pretty much never talked about.
I’ve always been an advocate of choice because I never want anyone to go through what I did.
My boyfriend ending up being killed in Nam. Once in a blue moon I think he’d be alive if we had decided to have the baby—but that’s one of those fleeting thoughts and I am pretty sure that wouldn’t have been the case.
I really never regret having had the abortion.
When I became pregnant I was 25 and engaged. The pregnancy was purely accidental; I was not wearing my diaphragm and my fiancé wouldn’t wait for me to put it in.
It was the first time I ever had sex without using birth control.
I missed my period and took a pregnancy test, which confirmed my pregnancy. My fiancé asked me to leave—to move out. He said he would pay for the abortion. I knew I was not ready for a baby and that abortion would be the best thing for me.
I was crushed by our breakup and moved back into my parents’ house. My mom took me for the abortion. I was crying so hard the doctors asked me if I needed some time to think about my decision.
I said no, but I’ll never, ever, forget the life I took.
It crushed me, literally, for many years. I couldn’t look at my cousin’s newborn without bursting into tears. I couldn’t look at a baby for two years without feeling a complete sense of loss and grief.
I have epilepsy and was taking Dilantin for uncontrolled seizures when I became pregnant. I knew if I had a baby, the chances of birth defects were high. I was such a responsible teenager, I went alone to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills when I was still a virgin, since I knew my boyfriend and I were ready—I was 16, he 17, when I lost my virginity. Every single time I had sex, I used birth control. Except this one time as a 25-year-old.
My heart still aches for what could have been—a son or daughter. I would have a 29-year-old today, possibly be a grandma. I have two young adult children, 23 and 24. They’ve known about my abortion since they were teens. I’ve always been pro-choice, and I can see both sides of the issue. It’s not like women want to do this!
During the summer of last year I met a guy named Keath, while I was out with some friends. We hit it off and he took me on a few dates. He was the guy I thought I’d been looking for. He was sweet, intelligent, kind and we had a lot in common.
As the months passed, I started to realize that he didn’t like the way I did things—anything actually; I parked too crooked, I took too long in the shower, my room was never spotless. My roommates told me that he was controlling. I brushed the accusation off but the thought remained in my mind.
So when things weren’t going the way Keath wanted them to go, which was very frequent, we would get into huge arguments, leave each other alone for a day and the next day it was as if it had never happened. I tried to bring the arguments back up so they could be resolved, but he would get angry and the cycle would start again. So I stopped bringing them up so I could stop the arguing.
I can say now this was not a healthy relationship.
Around the end of August I noticed that I hadn’t started my period. My cycle had always been irregular and I just thought this was one of those months that Mother Nature decided to skip me.
One of my friends insisted that I take a pregnancy test; I brushed it off until she presented me with a two-pack pregnancy test. I sat in the bathroom stall of my workplace, took a deep breath, peed on the stick and set it on the trash can.
When I looked back at the test my heart sank down lower than it ever had. I was pregnant; immediately I started hyperventilating and crying, wondering what I should do.
I didn’t want to call my mom—I didn’t want to have to tell her, but I knew I needed to. She told me to think about it for a few days and that it was my choice whether to tell Keath. She didn’t try to sway my decision. She gave me the pros and cons of all my choices:
1. Keep the baby. You’ll have a beautiful baby, but you’ll have to finish college with a little one, which is terribly hard to do.
2. Get an abortion. You’ll be able to finish school and even go for your master’s degree, but you’ll have to live with that decision for the rest of your life.
3. Give the baby up for adoption. You’ll be able to finish school and go for your master’s degree, but you’ll have to live with the thought of your own child being raised by someone else. Also letting your baby go after you give birth is probably one of the most challenging things you’ll ever have to do in your life. You’ve been connected to that baby for over nine months, that bond is pretty tight.
For the rest of the day this was my thought process with each option:
1. I promised myself that I wouldn’t bring a child into this world without the means to support it and myself.
2. I don’t know if I could take a life away.
3. I’m too much of an emotional person to have a child and separate myself from it, so I would end up keeping it anyway. Which brings me back to number one.
I decided I needed to talk to Keath—I needed some other insight on it and hopefully an answer on what he wanted.
When I finished my telling him he laughed out loud and said, “I don’t know why you’re freaking out, we can get this taken care of…”
I decided that I should get an abortion.
I waited two weeks before I made an appointment at the women’s clinic and I cried every day. When I finally went to my first appointment, I was alone and scared. The first appointment is where they give you all the legal information, do an ultra sound and make you fill out paperwork.
When the day came my roommates came with me for support. I cried the whole way up there, the whole time during, the whole way back and then I cried myself to sleep when I got home.
For the next few weeks. I was severely depressed. I talked to a couple of counselors which helped a little bit. I had the support of my family and friends.
This all happened about 10-11 months ago. Do I still think about it? Every day. Do I regret it? Part of me thinks I should have gone the route my mom had gone, but another part of me thinks I made the right decision.
Do I still cry about it? Not as much, but when I start thinking about it heavily I have my cry sessions. Do I think that abortion is the route for everyone? No, it’s a really tough decision that I’m not sure if I could make again.
I’m not as sensitive to the subject as I was 10 months ago. I can talk about it now. I’m learning to be happy again. I admire children more and I admire mothers and fathers more as well.
Several years ago I found myself unexpectedly pregnant in my mid 30s and decided to have an abortion. I wasn’t prepared for a child at all. In fact, the actual thought of it caused so much anxiety I felt like I was suffocating.
I knew the second I got confirmation from a pregnancy test stick what I wanted to do and have never regretted my decision. That may sound cold or heartless to some, but I knew full well that bringing the pregnancy to term was something I couldn’t handle.
Yes, I was old enough to have been more careful but accidents happen and I can’t beat myself up over that.
I had always been pro-choice and with the question of “What would you do?” no longer a hypothetical inquiry, my greatest emotion has to do with having been able to have a choice. I can’t begin to explain the thought of that choice being taken away from anyone. This is why I chose to write you with my story.
Some, I know, will judge me based on this choice without knowing one thing about me and I understand that’s their right. But people should find a little reservation with their judgment unless they themselves have been in the situation where they have to decide what to do.
I feel so strongly about the pro-choice issue and am embarrassed that it’s even being discussed to reverse it or make it illegal.
My story happened when I was 17. I was pregnant, and I thought my options through. I knew I was not ready to be a mother—I was in college with my whole life ahead of me.
I had talked to my mother who said she’d support me in any way, regardless of what I chose to do. I was going to get an abortion. The boy who knocked me up ran when I told him that I was pregnant and that I was not going to keep the baby. I told him I thought that he should know, as well as have a say in the ordeal since he was the father.
One day at work, I overheard my boss and his wife talking. She was crying, and kept saying she wanted a baby. I knew that they had been trying everything and that the attempts were futile. So I, after I had made the appointment to have an abortion, I went to them and told them that I was pregnant, that I wasn’t ready and asked if they’d like to adopt the child. They were so excited and we started the adoption process.
Everything went great until, I was seven months pregnant.
I got up one night to get a glass of water and slipped in my own blood in the kitchen and knocked myself out. I was rushed to the hospital where I went into labor. I gave birth to a stillborn girl that night. The anger and the depression that followed were horrible.
Six months later, I met my husband; at 20 I got pregnant again. The doctor explained that there were risks and how my uterus was at such an angle that it wouldn’t support a child unless I was on bed rest for the whole pregnancy.
My husband, who comes from a severely religious family, looked me dead in the eyes and asked what I wanted to do. He knew my education was important to me, and that we were not ready financially or emotionally to have a child.
I told him that I wouldn’t be on bed rest, even to give it up for adoption and that an abortion was what needed to be done.
That was a hard decision to make. My husband wants nothing more than to be a father and to have a daddy’s girl or a spitting image of himself. But he understood that it was my body, and in the end, my choice.
I am now 24 and we are still married. His family hates me for the choice we made, but they didn’t have to give birth to a dead child, and they weren’t the ones that would have to give up their life to hopefully have a child. Not to mention that I carry the genes to pass on Marfan’s Syndrome.
That decision still haunts me, but I knew it was the right thing to do. They weren’t the ones that had to deal with the weight of making that choice.
I am now graduating with my fourth degree, and my husband and I are now talking about having children and planning accordingly.