When we begin to break the silence around reproductive health care in our own lives we build our strength. Solidarity is the beginning of changing policy. Share your story.
By Leigh, Age 39, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
When I was a young woman working and living on my own with no health insurance, Planned Parenthood was my primary care provider. During a routine Pap smear, precancerous cells were discovered. Had this gone untreated, it might have led to cervical cancer. I received potentially life saving care at a cost I could afford—even as a 20 year old working a low-wage job.
Many years later, I have health insurance and don’t need to rely on PP as much as I once did. I needed to return to PP, however, after discovering that I was pregnant again just 9 months after my son was born. My husband and I made the painful and difficult decision to have an abortion. Three years later, we are still paying the medical bills from my pregnancy and my son’s birth, despite having health insurance. We still owe about 10,000 dollars. We know there would be no way that we could financially suppport another child. In order to provide the best life possible for our son, we had no choice but to terminate the unintended pregnancy.
I have no regrets. My son will have more opportunities and a much better life because I was able to make a choice. Planned Parenthood may have saved both our lives.
By Linda, Age 57, Petaluma, CA
I grew up without access to legal, safe abortions. Roe v. Wade passed during my 20th year. I recall impulsively having sex with a boy when I was 16, an age during which impulsiveness outperforms all higher judgment, and then afterwords, worrying about becoming pregnant due to my childish mistake, knowing that I would do whatever I had to do to obtain an illegal abortion, no matter the consequences. Fortunately, I did not have to go down that road, but only due to pure luck.
I had a conversation with an anti-choice acquaintance several years back, in which she recounted to me how her sister had had an abortion, only to later profoundly regret that decision, and so now, her sister advocates against choice. I’m not sure which scenario is more lacking in thoughtfulness and intelligence: having sex with no precautions or falsely thinking that, had abortions been illegal, this person would not have obtained one. At least in my case, my decisions were made when I was very immature. In the case of this other person, even with the benefit of hindsight and reflection, she is unable to see that she may have gone through with an illegal abortion anyway, despite its serious risks, and might have died during the process, or been severely injured, or at the least, been rendered unable to ever have a child, by someone who lacks the medical training and skill to perform abortions legally and safely.
I am eternally grateful to my local Planned Parenthood clinic for being there for me when I later became pregnant, as a single adult, due solely to receiving very bad birth control information from an ob/gyn re a recently available, insufficiently tested method of BC that resulted in my immediate pregnancy. The care I received at PP was very good, very sensitive, very intelligently overseen by the entire staff and the attending doctor, and at a cost that I could afford, $400-$500.
My only regret that I carry forward in my life is having trusted my reproductive health care to advice given by a particular doctor. However, I learned an important lesson, and that is to never again trust that every ob/gyn knows what they're talking about, a lesson I am sharing with my 15-year-old daughter.
I don’t simply actively support abortions being included in the comprehensive health care for all of us who support the right to choose, I also do so for the unmindful people like the sister of my acquaintance, because without our efforts, she may not be living a satisfied life today that includes a family, including children. Whether she ever recognizes it or not, our efforts made it possible for her to make what she now considers a mistake, without losing her life over it.
By Femme, Age 53, Gretna, LA
I was 23 years of age when my husband and I were divorced with a daughter age 3. After my first marriage, I was to remarry, lived an affluent life with all the amenities. My fiancé died unexpectedly of an aneurism leaving my daughter and I homeless. I struggled to survive, became an entertainer, worked in shops, bars, on the street, in galleries and shops, nightclubs, as an artist and musician and raised my daughter alone, although her father and I shared custody, and my family helped out. He was a good man. However we could not live happily together and parted. I had live-in boyfriends from time to time, none being willing or wanting marriage. I would call them closer to friends than husbands or even potential husbands but they did help my daughter and I to live, but were working and making money and we live together as pals long term contractual. My daughter and I lived through some hard times for lack of bread, but for the most part it was good. She is now 32, and I am now 54. She has grown to be a very beautiful woman. I have grown a bit older but am still plugging along presently unemployed. I am spending a lot of time with my mother lately who is getting up in age but still looking great and has had a one-kind-of-everything life—married over 60 years and very proud of that. I have two sisters: one a single, successful secretary and one twice-married, successful businesswoman and mother. I wish to have a best friend again. I have had a few best girlfriends in this life that I cherish and wish to see again but they have gone on in life.
I see anti-abortion people as ignorant, only in this life for the game to win by demeaning others consciously or unconsciously. Clinical abortions for women who obviously cannot bear a child for whatever their reasons may be are sensible, sometimes painful, but never should it be deadly and done with a coathanger in the bathroom, whatever the reasons for the need are. Life permitting issues. We all have them. In the issue of God, if God willed the child to be born the child would be born. WE all suffer and lose in life daily due to our imperfections. All forgiven.
By Paula, Age 37, San Francisco, CA
I got pregnant after the condom broke. I was in my first year of law school living in the school dorm. My boyfriend was unemployed and applying to grad schools.
I did not hesitate to get an abortion since I knew that in my circumstances, I could not be a good parent.
Many years later, I became a leading professional in my field, and got married to a wonderful man I met. We now have 3 wonderful, young kids together. I’m grateful for the reproductive rights I have. They have allowed me to be a responsible parent who can adequately provide for my children financially and emotionally.
By Beth, Age 26, Keene, NH
I got pregnant at age 17. I had been having sex with my boyfriend without any thought to condoms or birth control. I was a nice girl and thought that would sufficiently protect me from something like an unwanted pregnancy. I spent probably two months trying to ignore the signs my body was giving me. There was simply no way in my mind that I could be pregnant. I left for college and hoped that if I put the idea as far as possible from my mind it would go away.
Of course it didn’t. I spent my 18th birthday puking from morning sickness and that finally pushed me to get a test. When I got the positive results I honestly felt that my life was falling apart. I cannot say that I have known that feeling of desperation at any other time in my life. There was no question in my mind, I did not want to be a mother yet. I felt that my life was just starting and thought it was emotionally painful to take the next step I called my parents and they helped me procure an abortion. The care I receieved was not quite compassionate, but it did give me an amazing chance to live the life that I wanted to live.
There were many years where I felt tender and sad thinking about myself at this place. These were not feelings of regret—rather feelings of loneliness—that I did not have a community of women and men around me displaying respect for my decision and my future. The most difficult thing about that experience was knowing how aggressively and violently some people would react to my decisions. I was, after all, still a nice girl.
Looking back now I can say with a full heart that I made the right choice. I believe that the energy of the life I decided not to foster was received by love and acceptance back into the energy of the world and was redirected. I am grateful to live in a society that I was able to choose my own life.
By Amanda, Age 31, Washingon
During the summer of 1999 my life turned upside down—I was raped, in the “comfort and safety” of my own apartment, and became pregnant as a result of it.
I went to Planned Parenthood and confirmed my worst fears. After the abortion, I went home and slept and cried and laughed over the pictures of my ultrasound that was taken the day, and I was angry about the situation I had been forced into. Then accepted what I had done, and I’ve never looked back.
Yes, I did have the abortion for myself. I never would have graduated from college. I would be the mother of a 3-year-old child. I had a feeling that it would have been a boy, I had always thought of “it” as a “him”.
Unfortunately, I would have despised him, because of what made him—an act of hate, of control, of disrespect. Who wants a mother that hates you? I know I wouldn’t. Who can gaze at the face of a child that resembles the man who raped you? I admit that I’m not strong enough to do it. And I couldn’t face the possibility that if I gave him up, he might find me.
I’ve never for one moment regretted the choice I made, and if I had to endure it all again, I would make the same choice to abort.
By Jessica, Age 20, Huntington, WV
I became pregnant the same week that my fiance lost his job, the same month that I had to borrow money to pay over half my rent, and the same year that I was just beginning to establish myself as an independent person. The choice was clear: I was definitely not having a child, much less raising one.
I was extremely physically ill, emotionally fragile, and I was only 7 weeks into the pregnancy when I had my abortion. The procedure was performed in a clean, organized environment by kind, efficient staff. It was less painful than any visit to the orthodontist and much shorter, too! Best $450 I ever spent.
By Aliza, Age 59, New York, NY
I became pregnant when I was 29, with an IUD in place. I had been married for 2 years, but our marriage was not on firm ground.
I was informed by my doctor that if I carried this pregnancy to term, I would have a 50/50 chance of developing septicemia, likely resulting in my death and the death of my fetus.
I immediately opted for an abortion, and obtained one at the Feminist Health Center in New Hampshire, the state where I then lived. Everyone there was simply wonderful.
The only stressor was that my husband resented my making the decision unilaterally. I, in turn, couldn’t believe he would have considered my making any other choice, or that I would place my survival second to our solidarity.
I have never had a moment’s regret over this choice. On the contrary, I felt empowered and supported. My marriage ended about 6 months later. No regret there, either…
I have been an outspoken proponent for choice throughout my life. Woman—your body, your life, your rights!
By Shame_Girl, Age 45, Mountain View, AZ
When I was 22 I got pregnant from date rape (physically held down by a convicted felon). I was unstable financially, thousands of miles from friends and family—and unhappy about the circumstances. I have always wished that things had been different, because I did feel that abortion was unnatural, and I wished I could have had a different experience. BUT, I still think it was the best choice for me at the time.
You can read my story here.
I wish that we could respect, as a united community, abortion as a selfless act, which it often is, chosen to allow a woman to provide for existing obligations or to just survive in difficult circumstances. Particularly for women who wish they could be moms, I think we should be bringing them dinner for their loss instead of blaming them and calling them names.
I’d like to see us support women better, if they want to continue their pregnancies and keep or give up their babies for adoption. I’d like to see affordable child care, health care, and employment law and school calendars that work together to allow women to be independent mothers without a law degree or someone else to depend on.
I also really believe that the political discussion, in and of itself, is causing significant harm.
By “Pagan”, Age 41, Phoenix, AZ
I had an abortion when I was 24. At the time I became pregnant, I was divorced, already had a 3 year old daughter, and we were just barely making it with me working a full time job and cleaning others’ houses on the weekends. I thought about my options—I was working in a high profile law firm where a single woman getting pregnant would definitely be frowned upon—if not terminated. There was no way I could afford another child and quite simply, the life of my LIVING daughter far outweighed the life of my unborn fetus.
I did it and I have never ever felt one moment of regret for having done it. I absolutely made the right decision for myself and my daughter. My daughter is all grown up now and proudly serving our country in the United States Army. She knows all about my abortion and is thankful that for now anyway, should she ever be faced with the same, she does have options.
The majority of women and men value reproductive health services: They preserve our freedom to determine when and whether to take on the joy and responsibility of raising children, and monitor and safeguard our sexual health.
43% of all women have had abortions, and if you are not one of them, chances are excellent that you know someone who has been touched by abortion - your partner, your friends, and your parents.
We invite you to share your stories. Following are some suggested topics:
Was it difficult:
What about men?
When a woman is pregnant, the primary responsibility for making a decision is hers. But the abortion experience and the conversation about abortion touches male partners, family and friends. Your perspective is valuable and your involvement makes for a deeper, more interesting conversation. We need your voices in the national conversation about abortion and birth control
For reliable information about reproductive health care, reproductive justice, birth control, or abortion consult with your health care provider, and also consult trusted sources like Our Bodies Ourselves