Welcome to the For Choice Project. On this page, you can read the abortion stories that have been submitted anonymously to us. If you wish to submit your own story, please visit this page.
A submitted a much longer story to The Bandwagon some months ago, which describes her experience of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of a partner. She gave permission for the relevant parts to be reposted here. You can read A’s story in full here.
“I was only physically forced into having sex with him once. I still can’t quite find it in myself to talk about that part, and it took a very long time for me to even be able to say it out loud. But it happened, he did it. And I got pregnant.
This was not part of the plan. He was destined for university and a career. This was something he couldn’t control. Well, this was something I thought he couldn’t control. Being someone that hadn’t ever really felt loved or worthy of love, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of becoming a mother. I was 16. I told him that I was pregnant, and I’m not really sure what I expected, but it was probably not what happened next. I was told to either have an abortion or I would be pushed down the stairs and dealt with. These weren’t the words of a scared 17 year old boy who didn’t know what to do; these were the words of someone who knew exactly how to handle a situation that had gone past being controlled. To this day I still hate myself for what I did. I know I did nothing wrong, and I aborted a child (that was the product of rape) out of fear for its safety, as well as mine. But I still can’t help hating myself, especially because now I am faced with the prospect that I may never have children.
Shortly after having the termination, I got a blood infection in one of my ovaries. It filled with cysts and caused irreparable damage that has left me with only one working ovary. I’m not infertile, but I’m half as likely to ever hold my baby in my arms. I’m half as likely to ever be a mother. And it hurts so much because it is all because of what I did.”
Commentary: A’s experience of abortion is by no means common. The majority of abortions are performed with no negative effects on the woman’s health, but if you do experience any worrying symptoms, seek medical help immediately. For further information and support on abortion, visit the Marie Stopes website, or speak to your GP.
“This isn’t my story of abortion, but I’m writing it with the permission of the woman involved. I’ll refer to her as B.
Towards the end of our first year at college, B came to me and said her period was late. I used to pick her up in the mornings, so we stopped at a supermarket to pick up a pregnancy test before we went off to college. We escaped to the toilets, and she slipped the test to me after she’d peed on it. She didn’t want to look at it, so I held it in front of me as we waited the allotted time. A couple of other girls came in, and I quickly slid it up my sleeve. After they left, we laughed that I might have gotten B’s pee on me, but there was a palpable tension in the room. I took the test out, held it so B couldn’t see, and looked at it.
Pregnant. You know how people say that your stomach drops, and your heart leaps into your throat? That’s how I felt when I looked at the test. I have to tell her she’s pregnant, I thought, panicking. She was only young, younger than me – 18 or 19 at the time – and I had to deliver the news that would change her life. I told her, handed her the test. She cried, and I went numb.
Ever the realist, I shot into action. She was crying too hard to talk to anyone, so I spoke to her doctor and made an appointment for her. We were meant to be working with a group of friends on our latest assignment, so we headed down to the room and got out our laptops. B spoke to her boyfriend at the time on Facebook, told him the news. He was angry, blamed her. He didn’t want to help. His family became nasty, aggressive. I wanted to scoop B up as if she were a child herself, support her in every way. She looked so young, so scared.
After seeing her doctor, she discovered that she was 19 weeks pregnant. We were all shocked. She’d had no idea, no indication, until shortly before we bought the test. She hadn’t been particularly healthy – drinking, smoking, eating whatever she liked – and was worried about the health of the foetus. If she wanted an abortion, she would have to travel a few hours up country, and pay for it privately.
Her family wasn’t the most supportive at the time. We visited some of them, attempting to raise the money for an abortion, travel, and an overnight stay. We agreed that I would accompany her, and that we would take the train. I’ve never spoken to B about this, but, at the time, I was terrified. I was terrified that she’d become unwell on the journey back, with only me there to help her. I’m not even trained in first aid. I was worried about the procedure, about complications. I turned to my mum, making a rare phone call home, and told her of my fears. But I was determined to support her decision, and my mum told me to forget about myself, this wasn’t about me. I took that advice to heart; I fought her corner with a fierceness that I don’t even think I could muster for myself. I argued with her family, planned, organised. But inside, I was still scared.
And every step of the way, B was unsure. She had so many voices telling her what to do, it took a while for her to stop and listen to her own voice. ‘I’m going to keep the baby,’ she eventually said. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked. Now I was scared that supporting a baby would be too much, too hard. What about her education? Her future? Would her boyfriend be there to help? Would her family? I truly believe that choosing to have a child is one of the hardest decisions anyone has to make. Being a parent, particularly a young parent, in a situation like B’s, can be so incredibly hard. I admit, I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do it. How wrong I was to doubt her ability, her strength. ‘I’m sure,’ she said, and she was.
B has become an incredible woman. Strong, confident, loving. The birth of her child may well have been one of the best things to happen to her, but it could have gone a very different way. If she’d chosen to go through with the abortion, I would have supported her every step of the way. We deserve the ability to choose, and B chose.”
“I had a termination at 7 weeks gone, as early as possible as I went to the doctor as soon as I took a test. I said straight away that I wanted this option because I never want kids and even if I did my living and financial situation was far from ideal. I got referred to a health centre for a second doctor’s signature and they did a scan (with the screen turned away.) They also attempted some degree of counselling but I think they were aware that I wasn’t going to be put off. I had to go for a blood test a few days later at the hospital and this was by far the most traumatic part for me as I have a phobia of needles! I was booked in for a Saturday and was on a ward with about 6 curtained bays. They gave me a pessary to start the process and some pain relief. I experienced something like a heavy period, bleeding and cramps wise. The only difference being that every time you visit the loo you have to go over a cardboard pan and call a nurse so she can see what has been expelled. I passed something like a heavy clot and the nurse confirmed that I was no longer pregnant. I was allowed to go home if I had someone to stay with me as they were worried about excess bleeding, however I was fine it was just like a particularly heavy/ painful period for a few days. At some point (can’t remember exactly when) they also gave me an antibiotic pill to stop infection.
Overall the experience wasn’t pleasant or horrendous, it was really no different to any minor medical procedure. I think the trouble stems from when you aren’t sure about your decision whereas I never had a doubt what was right for me.”
“I’ve had 2 abortions. Both by the pill. With the first one I didn’t know I was pregnant until a week before the pill would have no longer been an option. I went to Planned Parenthood without health insurance, paid $525 of my rent money I hoped to make back in tips where I was working and cried when I told them to get the thing out of me. I was given all the medicines I needed, and a list of things to make my life easier, including jumbo landing strip pads with wings and a hot water bottle. I went home and set an alarm for the following morning for when I would have to take the medicine that would abort the pregnancy.
For those of you who haven’t had a pill abortion, you have to leave these things on the inside of your cheek. They taste terrible and you can’t spit them out or chew them. You have to let them dissolve naturally. You can’t eat or drink anything while they’re in your mouth for a certain period of time. Once they’ve dissolved, you can have water. And you’re supposed to eat before you take them so you don’t have them on an empty stomach. No matter what you do, they taste terrible. But I kept thinking about how I was going to get my body back and how I would no longer be a vessel for this cargo I didn’t want. I threw up right at the 30 minute mark after taking the pills. I was terrified that meant they wouldn’t work. That I would have to have a DNC. Or worse, I would have to give birth to this thing inside me. And then it started. I bled out blood clots and gushed blood like a geyser for hours. I sat on the toilet for long periods of time, just letting it all fall out of me. When I would get back into bed with a hot water bottle, I would bleed through the jumbo landing strip pads almost immediately. I ruined 3 pairs of my partner’s boxers, a towel l I used to protect me sheets, went through an entire package of pads, plus half of another, and never left the bathroom long enough for the seat to actually get cold. This all lasted about 9 hours. It was the longest, bloodiest, most stressful 9 hours of my life. Nothing I did made time to faster, and no amount of medicine made the cramps lighter, the nausea dissipate, or the blood stop from pouring out of me.
After it was over, I felt free. I felt like I had reclaimed my body. The cramps, the vomiting, the explosions of blood had all been worth it. I cried when I went back for the follow up appointment to make sure it worked and and they told me everything was gone, sans a few tiny blood clots. The second time, I recognized the pregnancy symptoms right away. I was back in Planned Parenthood, this time with health insurance, and I told them the same thing I did the first time: get this thing out of me. This time there was no throwing up, the cramps were milder, and the blood came out of me in thick trickles instead of explosions. However the relief I felt after it was over, and the tears of joy that came with the ‘all clear’ at the follow up, were exactly the same.”
“When I was 1, my Mirena IUD failed and I got pregnant only 8 months after having my first child. I was 7 weeks pregnant when we found out. I took the abortion pill I got from planned parenthood and terminated at home. Thankfully, my mom paid the $550 cost of it because I could not afford that.”
A year and a half after my 2nd child’s birth I found out that I was pregnant. Same way that I found out I was pregnant with both of my boys, being exhausted and having to pee. I found out at 5 weeks. Just as early as the boys. We had always talked about just having (at most) 2 children. I had said I would not get my tubes tied, and that birth control would have to be on my husband. It had taken us so long to have both boys that I never thought it would be problematic. We used condoms after the birth of #2, so I thought we were okay. I had always hoped that we would have had a girl, but loved everything about my boys and didn’t feel I was missing out.
When I realized I was pregnant, I didn’t know what to do. I knew financially, we would be in a bad place. We were already trying to save to buy a larger place. We were saving as much as we could, and still living a bit of a paycheck-to-paycheck life, but we were happy. I knew my husband would not be happy at hearing we were pregnant. I hurriedly spoke to my doctor’s office and set up an appointment (they normally wait until you are an assumed 8wks but agreed to have me come in as my cycles are irregular and you wouldn’t know really when I ovulated). When I went in, they confirmed I was pregnant. It was then I told my husband, who practically had a heart attack, stating “well we can’t keep it”. We had talks about our stances on abortion many times over the decade+ we had been together and never did I think his response to this situation (when we could make things work) would be that we needed to terminate. I had been fighting my own internal battle. Yes, it would be difficult, but could we do it? Yes. Would it make our lives infinitely more difficult? Yes. Would my husband likely resent me for keeping the baby knowing that it was absolutely not something that he wanted? Maybe, but it was not a risk I was willing to take. I, myself, was an unwanted pregnancy. My parents were dating when they got pregnant with me, and then decided they should get married because they were having me. And my whole life comments of “this is all your fault” (like it could be the fault of a fetus that their parents decided to stay together… sure), led me to have a stronger feeling of “if he can’t support this, I can’t put our family though this”.
I had him set up the appointment at the clinic. We went in, and I received the pills. Sadly, it didn’t work. I bled some, but apparently did not shed the whole lining. The then 7-wk-old embryo had stopped growing after taking the pills, but I would need the D&C to remove the lining and embryo. We made the follow-up appointment. I cried the whole time. I wanted my husband, and he could not be in the room with me. This was over a year ago. In May we would be celebrating our child’s 1st birthday. It might have been the girl that I had hoped we had, or it might have been a 3rd boy which clearly would have driven me into severe depths of insanity. It depresses me to think about it, the thought of what could have been our baby girl. I try not to. I know that all of the things we are doing right now, we wouldn’t have been able to do had we had the baby. I know that my barely-hanging-on-by-a-thread sanity would have since been broken (man, toddlers can drive a girl crazy sometimes) . I say regularly that one of us (either my 3-yr-old or myself) isn’t going to make it to his 4th birthday. Certainly I would have lost my mind. Or would I? The doubt drives me insane. I’ve been thinking of a tattoo to get to remember what happened. I know I will never forget, but I feel that I need to do something… and I don’t know what I can do.”