I had an abortion*

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you if it was my only, or my fourth.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in their heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with signs, I heard them shout, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had a wonderful hand-holder. I clutched her, and she asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I do not regret my abortion.

*this post originally was posted in May 2012. I’ve made minor edits to it, and reposted because I believe that it’s necessary to put it back out there. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about who should and should not have access to abortion and I don’t like any of it. I don’t like the hierarchy of acceptability and I will not participate in the stigmatizing and shaming of a neutral medical procedure.


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34 responses to “I had an abortion*

  1. Thank you for sharing this. *hugs*

    Like you, I don’t like the self-abasing rhetoric that surrounds abortion. I know a lot of women who have had abortions, and for some of them it was a difficult choice, but for others it was not hard at all. It all depends on the person having the abortion.

    I have never had an abortion but I have been divorced, and I sometimes see the same rhetoric at play there too. You know, there’s lots of talk about how divorce is traumatic, the worst thing ever, etc. etc., but man, I was positively elated when I got divorced and I kind of resent the idea that I should have been broken-hearted and sobbing every night over it.

    • Yup. I think we hold some life events up in value – birth, marriage – that when they don’t end, or progress, to a happy, smiley, ending, we paint them as tragic. Because if we didn’t paint them as tragic, all the wimmenz would be getting divorced and having abortions without any shame whatsoever. CAN’T HAVE THAT! 🙂

  2. jonu

    Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to publicly say fuck off to the conservative right who think their own our bodies. I have not had an abortion. But I took the morning after pill once and people hear that and look at me like OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRIBLE AND DESPERATE SITUATION. uh. No. I had sex. I did not want another baby. I walked in to the pharmacy and paid for and then swallowed a pill that prevented me from getting pregnant. I was 35. I don’t really owe anyone any explanation. Nor do you. You’re kind of my hero.

  3. Hallelujah! Someone else who thinks that an abortion is not the end of the world. It’s amazing that MEN, who cannot and will not ever carry a baby feel the need to make these kinds of decisions for humanity as a whole.

    I too had an abortion. More than 1 actually. Each for its own reason, and each was MY decision. I am appalled that some people, in some places don’t have the right to make that decision for themselves.

    I have kids, whom I love dearly. But I also know that the ability to care for them and raise them means more to me than bringing a life into the world that I can’t or don’t want to care for.

  4. Tanya

    I had an unplanned pregnancy. When I talk about it and my pro-choice feelings, I don’t want to tell people the outcome. My body is not a public, moral battleground. I don’t need anyone to tell me if I made the right decision. Being pro-choice acknowledges that it was a choice. MY choice.

    • Absolutely. Prochoice must advocate for all options in reproduction. It has to encompass the choice to reproduce, and it must support those that make that choice and have been historically oppressed for it. Poverty, race, age, circumstance of pregnancy…none of why someone wants to or doesn’t want to have a child is any of my damn business. My role is to support that decision.

  5. dg

    I had an abortion too. I was young and scared to death, and just knew I could not have a baby. But it was back before they were leagal. It was horrid, and I could have died. I do not wish any woman to have to experince what I went though. I was lucky, but so many others before me died. So, for the last 50 years, I have fought to keep clinics open, so that younger women do not ever have to face what I did.

    • Thank you for working to ensure that abortion remains safe and accessible, for future generations. I’m sorry your experience was horrible. I wish no one would ever have had to have an experience like yours. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I have had an abortion. I also have had miscarriages, which in medical terminology are referred to as nonelective abortions. I have 3 children. No one has the right to question my decisions about my body or my experiences. I thank God that abortion was a safe, legal option for me at the time I needed it. It is not just men involving themselves into women’s personal business, but other women. No one lives my life but me. I won’t tell you how to live so have the same consideration for me.

  7. Gary

    I’m a male, I cannot fathom such a choice. But, I did lose my grandmother to a botched abortion, It was in a time when you had to go to some back alley quack. She had been raped by her husbands brothers after his death in Korea. I support any womans right to choose, and be given a clean, professional environment to make such choices privately. Bless you for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing. It hurts me to hear the stories of women who no access to safe abortion. I hope we can protect future generations from experiences like your grandmother’s. Both her rape, and subsequent passing.

  8. I am so glad to see this. In the past few weeks I have heard the call for women to tell their stories. I have had an abortion and I don’t mind saying that, but there is no story. It was a decision I made, not a particularly hard choice and I have no lasting effects, except a vague curiosity of how life might have been different. No drama, no story.

  9. I had an unplanned pregnancy. I will say that I did not have an abortion, but I am thankful that it was an option. Very early on I went to the er because I was dehydrated and when I saw my baby move, I knew that abortion was not the right choice for me. But that does not mean that I think every woman who finds herself pregnant and unable/willing to continue the pregnancy should be forced to have a child. Nor do I think it is fair to force a woman to see the child alive inside of her in an attempt to guilt/shame her into keeping the child. That is not fair to the child or to the woman. I have no right to make the decision about abortion for other women, but I have the right to defend their choice with them..

  10. Thanks you for sharing, I’ve always thought that the choice was a hard one, but this has opened my eyes to not says as such. It doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be a hard decision at all. I’ve always been pro choice but now after learning what I learned reading this and the comments, I will no longer use that as part of my way of thinking. Light and love

    • Thanks, Amanda. For some people, it is a traumatic experience, and I fervently hope that for those people, that they have a strong, loving support system. The kind of support you offer as a birth doula. Thank YOU for the difference you make.

  11. Jessica

    I’m going to be 26 in a week, and while I’ve never had an actual abortion, I have taken Plan B many a time when I felt that it was necessary. While I won’t go into further detail surrounding why I chose to do it, I don’t regret my choice for one minute or the number of times I have taken that pill. I know that I am not at all in a position to have and raise a child, nor do I care to at this time in my life. I believe that it is unfair to force any woman to have a child if she knows in her heart it is not something she wants. It is HER choice and her’s alone just as it was MY choice to do what I did, and I am very grateful for that and to have the necessary tools available for that choice. Thank you for sharing this story and reinforcing the idea that A) It is no one’s business but the woman’s if she decides to have an abortion and the reasoning for it. B) That it shouldn’t be a hard decision for a woman to make due to the stigma surrounding the procedure. C) That no woman should feel guilty or that it’s the end of the world because she decided to have one and others believe she should feel a certain way after getting one.

  12. I applaud you!
    I am pro choice all the way.
    It is my body you & the government does not live in it I DO!
    I will do what is best for me!
    You are a brave woman to put yourself out here “Bravo” !

  13. Nicole

    Wow! I am so excited to see this post and all of these comments! It is nice to know that I am not alone in my thoughts on abortion. We cannot tell other people how to live their lives. I have not had an abortion, but I have had some scares in the past that made me consider it. I am thankful that it is an option that I can consider. I am thankful that they are safe and mostly legal in most states. The whole point is that we should have the chance to choose. No one should take that chance away.

  14. Matt

    Your post says EVERYTHING. Thank you.

  15. I have one major question, something in your story has me wondering. At the time, when you were crossing that picket line to get to the clinic, did you feel like punching any one of them for getting in your face about your decision? If so, do you still feel that way thinking back on it?

  16. charlie

    Thank god for living in Sweden where there are no anti-abortion fanatic idiots. Oh, and free abortion as well as fre contraceptives.

  17. I am sorry for writing this. My mother had a miss-carrige (sorry about the spelling) , what I think of as a sub-conscious / natural abortion considering the natural balance or not of her life at the time, in terms of family security; just enough to pay the bills and so on. I think a second son would have “messed up her life”.

    She almost lost me after that in misscarrige in 6th and 1/2 month after that. In one sense only the laws of this country or modern society are responsible for me being alive today. She left my father just before I got born that says something I guess.

    If not for anything else I am so happy to be alive today. But what problems I have had. Growing up with her using drugs , fits of rage , her ensuing insanity after that.

    So my perspective is new i guess, would I want to be alive or not?

  18. This is an edit of a comment I left recently on a similar post on a different site; I want to leave it here also because it really speaks to how I feel about this topic.
    I live in Ireland, where abortion is unobtainable unless the woman’s life is at risk, and sometimes not even then (as in the recent case of Savita Halappanavar). I flew to Liverpool for an abortion several years ago; since then I’ve been sought out on numerous occasions to talk about my experience with people who are writing theses/articles, producing radio programmes and making documentaries. It’s really, really hard to get Irish women to tell their stories even if they are given the option to use a pseudonym. I have been more than willing to tell my story (albeit anonymously), as I think it’s important for Irish women to know that they are not alone, and for the general public to see that abortion happens to real people. In Ireland, the anti-choice side is particularly loud and vicious in its demonisation of women who have chosen abortion, and I really do feel a need to counter that; to humanise the issue by sharing my story.
    I have realised, over time, that by putting my story out there I cannot prevent readers/listeners/viewers from judging whether my reasons were ‘good enough.’ In relating my personal experience it has never been my intention to try and convince people that I ‘deserved’ an abortion because, look, horrible circumstances which were totally not plain old slutty sex for fun. The truth is that the only person who needs to be satisfied with my reasons for having an abortion is me; this is equally true for any woman anywhere who ever had or will have an abortion.

    I have come to feel very conflicted about whether sharing my story does more harm than good, and it’s validating to read this piece and see I’m not the only one to feel this way.

    • I feel this conflict too. But I have no doubts that pregnant people in Ireland who have heard your story have taken comfort from knowing that they aren’t alone. Having an abortion and feeling like you are the only person who is facing this situation, no matter how you feel about the act itself, can be an incredibly isolating experience. Helping others to break from that isolation is a beautiful thing. Thank you.

  19. Ali

    I had an unplanned pregnancy and scheduled my abortion. Two days prior, I was just too scared of someone recognizing me or word getting out somehow, I was paranoid. My family would disown me, it was just too much.

    So I gave birth to my child in a very empowering birth, amazingly. I love my kiddo, and I like to think I take good care of my child, but in the year following his birth I had horrible postpartum depression. I still feel, some days, that an abortion would have made things better for everyone involved, but obviously I don’t dwell on it because I have to take care of my kiddo and I love him very much…but it took me a good while to grow to love him. I actually had to fake it for a while, and that sounds crazy- I was/am a cosleeping/babywearing/breastfeeding/no crying it out mom, and I was FAKING loving my baby for the first six months or so.
    This article is wonderful. It doesn’t have to be a difficult decision, and it doesn’t matter what your reasons are, as long as they are YOUR reasons.

    I let fear make my choice, and I have to live with it. And since I made my choice, that’s ok. I’m pretty sure most people would think me a terrible mom for saying “yes, I WISH I’d gone through with my abortion”, but it’s the truth, and you know what? I try my best to be a good mom, but I would NEVER, EVER want someone to go through what I have.
    Thank you for this.

  20. Catherine

    I had an abortion. I have no issues with telling you who I was then, or now.

    At 24, despite using birth control, I found myself pregnant. An older woman asked me this question; “how do you see your life in 5, 10 & 15 years?”. I thought about it quietly and then she said, “now add a child to that”. It was extremely sage advice & clarified everything. The relationship was not serious, the boyfriend did not want to be a father and I was not going to be a single mother.

    That was twenty four years ago, in England. Today, I’m 48 and living in California. My life has included marriage, divorce, love, loss, extreme pain and monumental joy. At no point have I ever believed that my decision was anything other than right and good for ALL parties involved. No other human being has more knowledge, expertise or entitlement to tell me that my choice was anything other than as I see it.

    To realise the younger women in this country have less automatic rights to the safety, support and options I took for granted almost a quarter of a century ago is, quite simply, WRONG.

  21. Manda

    I have very dear friends that have undergone abortions for various reasons, and I have taken the Morning After pill. I am so grateful for these services available to us.
    For all the courageous women sharing their stories, thank you. You are not alone in this!!

  22. oddly

    I am glad women have the option today. As a young woman long ago I had to travel to Mexico for my abortion. My mom’s friend lived there. She took me to a doctor who tried to force himself on me. I ran out of the office, somewhat drugged with a preoperative sedative. The only person with me was the lady’s 9, or10 year old son. I told him we had to get away. We ran to a store where he called his mom. The next day, she had a friend of hers take me back. The friend firmly told the doctor to do the procedure with no more funny business. It all worked out. I didn’t die or become sterile. God didn’t punish me. I have two amazing, bright daughters who fill my life with joy. I am grateful they never had to have the harrowing experience that I did. May it ever be so.

  23. Elizabeth Loomis

    This was a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing it.

  24. My abortion was not a difficult decision for me, at all.

    I also hate the idea that is pushed that people innately struggle with choosing an abortion. I feel that the decision to actually reproduce and bring another sentient being into the world should be a much harder decision that is well thought out and taken very seriously. Removing non sentient things from someone’s body isn’t as big of a deal as making an actual being with real thoughts and feelings.

    I love my abortion, and I’m glad that I was able to get it.

  25. Thank you for expressing your thoughts in a public forum. People like you help me understand pro-choicers better.

    Clearly not all women struggle with the decision to have an abortion. I have a question for women who have had an abortion and did struggle with that decision. Why was it a difficult decision?

    I have another question, is time for pro-choicers. What do you think is the main motivation(s) of pro-lifers to restrict abortion access?
    Thank you, to anyone who takes the time to help me understand this issue better.

  26. Kelsey

    I hope you’re still getting these replies despite having moved on to a new blog. I just wanted to let you know how much this piece has touched me. I performed it as a speech (to thunderous applause). I just wanted to thank you for putting such eloquent words to my thoughts. Thank you.

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