Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary

01.22.13

Daily Beast Readers Share Their Stories About Abortion

“Do I wish she and I had changed our minds on the way to the abortion clinic? Probably not. I can't envision a life with her and a child, but who could have envisioned where any of us end up?”

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, we're asking readers to share their personal experiences with abortion. We’ll post them, as submitted, throughout the week. Here are their stories:

I was 20, in college. Pregnant in spite of using contraceptives; had not realized the pill had to be taken the same time every day or else. Didn't want to be a mom, I wanted to grow up first. Knew my 40-year-old boyfriend wouldn't stick around if a baby happened—he had left two wives as single moms. Definitely didn't want to do the single mom thing at all. What I learned about myself: I struggle with a difficult decision, until it is made and irrevocable. I cried every day until the day of the abortion.

I have never, ever regretted not having a baby at that time. I still struggle with hard decisions, until they are made and done. I am now 43, with three small children (6, 4, and 2). I was not ready to be a mother until my late 30s; I would have been a terrible, selfish mother at 20. Terminating that pregnancy was the first Real Grown Up decision I ever made, and I am very glad that I did.

I wish I could thank and hug each and every person who worked at the clinic, I realize now (in a way I did not then) the daily sacrifices they each made for me to have access to that procedure.

–Megan, CA



The first time I had intercourse I got pregnant. It was 1960 and I was 23, living in New York City and working as a researcher for Newsweek Magazine. I was not in love with the man who knocked me up. We were living in the same building, in side-by-side furnished apartments. I shared my space and rent with 2 young women. He was Lebanese, working for the Lebanese consulate, and shared his apartment with a compatriot. We had dated several times. And necked. And for the first time went all the way. I could not believe I was pregnant. How could this be? ONCE?

I think he might have married me, but any marriage between us would have been a disaster. We were poles apart in so many ways. Culturally, temperamentally, different tastes, different religions, different ideals.

In those pre Roe v. Wade days, abortions were illegal. You had the choice of risking your life with a back alley butcher or paying a fortune for a so-called D & C. Or you could have a child and give it up for adoption. If you chose to keep the baby both of you would be ostracized. Such children were actually referred to as bastards or, if one were being kind, illegitimate. I could not stand the thought of having a child and giving it away. I knew I would spend the rest of my life regretting that decision. So I chose abortion, even though I knew it was illegal and thought it was a form of murder. However, then and now I don't think a fetus is truly a human being until it has been born.

The man involved knew a reputable Park Avenue doctor, also from Lebanon, who agreed for a large sum to help us. He took us to an office in the Bronx where an abortionist who was at least a medical doctor had agreed to perform the operation. As it turned out the Lebanese doctor did the deed as it became slightly complicated because of the way I was carrying the fetus.

Afterward we parted company and several years later I married and had 2 healthy children whom I loved to death. For me, an abortion was the right decision.

—Susan D, ME


I think it was just before abortion became legal. Two married friends of mine had been trying to have a baby. They were in the subway when she started bleeding. They rushed her to the hospital where she delivered a still-born baby. And she told me the nurse shoved the dead fetus at her, asking: “did you bring this on?" My friend remembered how small the baby's fingers were.

They finally had a successful pregnancy and their child was the most protected child in the world, they would not let you in the house if you had a cold. It is good that now women don't have this added emotional pain in the midst of a difficult time.

—Anonymous


I was not a born-again Christian. We got married in my Quaker meeting and agreed not to have any kids. After a few years, I got bored with my husband and wanted kids. I also wanted to go out west and so I took what was left of my student loan money and went out west and fell in love with someone else and went off the birth control, but my boyfriend was violent, so I came crawling back home. My husband said either "it" would have to go or I would.

I went into group therapy to make this decision, fell in love again, had the abortion and after a few more years had my first child. We broke up a few years later and I got into a cult.

I met the father of my 3rd child at a concert. To abort this child completely broke my heart. In the cult, I met the next father and had my 3rd abortion.

Right after the birth of my 5th child, I got saved. Now I'm okay, but of course, sad.

—Love, Diane


I was young, single and alone in the world. This was in the early 50s. My boyfriend found a place for me to go and we got the money together. I went to a building that didn't look anything like a clinic. There was a doctor and nurse with very few instruments. I felt that there was a good chance I would die during this "cash only" procedure, but I was so terrified and desperate that it didn't stop me.

I later married the boy, but we had so much better a start in our life and had two wonderful children. The boy didn't want to get married with the feeling that we "had to." I have never regretted it.

But I was glad when other people would not have to go through what I did—I was terrified it would not be done properly.

—Anonymous, IA


I was a naive 18-year-old college freshman and pregnant following my first sexual experience. It was 1966 and I was terrified. There was so much I wanted to accomplish, I had no idea how I would care for a child and my boyfriend had distanced himself from the situation.

I vividly recall going with my father to an apartment in the city where an elderly woman met us at the door, asked for her $700, and took me to a back bedroom. She performed the abortion on a twin-sized bed. I remember the pain (no anesthetic). I also recall the shame - neither she nor my father spoke to me that day. At the end of the procedure, she stuffed a tampon into me and sent us home.

As I was recovering from the ordeal, the gynecologist who had diagnosed the pregnancy called to ask for the name of the abortionist. He had another young patient in trouble who needed help.

I am now 65 years old and can still remember every sight, sound and pain of that day. It was a painful and horrific experience, but given the choice I would not change my decision. It was right for me. That being said, no woman should have to be shamed or punished for making decisions related to her health and her body. It is our obligation to provide that woman with a medically safe alternative that respects her as a person. I can assure you, no one makes a decision of this magnitude lightly. Thank you for this opportunity. I know this post is long, but I have never really spoken or written about my abortion before.

—Anonymous


After struggling to get pregnant for 11 months, I found out that I was pregnant with triplets. I wanted to keep all three of them. Five doctors recommended that I terminate one fetus to better my chances of having two healthy babies. (The risk to triplets are due mainly to premature birth). After doing my own research, I realized that it was irrefutable that the risk that the babies would miscarry, die within a year of birth or be seriously handicapped for the rest of their lives was much higher than that of twins or singleton pregnancies; the absolute risks were quite high as well. It was a hard, sad decision that I wished that I didn't have to make, but I aborted one fetus to give my other children a chance for a healthy life. I still cry over it, but I am grateful that there were no government regulations preventing me and my partner from making a life-saving decision for our family.

—Anonymous


For personal reasons I've had 2 abortions -- one before Roe which was performed in a Dr.'s office in PA (the only place we could find) after hours and as soon as it was over I was sent home with specific instructions to go to an emergency room if I started hemorrhaging. But NOT reveal the source. The second (legal) was performed in a medical clinic with support staff and follow up medical assistance.

—Anonymous


My wife became very ill during a very wanted pregnancy causing the fetal problems and a high risk of stroke for her. The problem developed during the end of the third trimester. If she continued to carry the fetus, her life was in danger. The doctors suggested an emergency c-section which would have delivered a 2 pound fetus already with problems. If delivered, and he survived, he may never have left intensive care, ever.

So we opted to terminate the pregnancy. We had to travel to Colorado because there were only two centers in the country that would perform late-pregnancy abortions. It was the most emotionally painful decision we have had to make.

People have a misconception of late pregnancy abortions. One cannot just change their mind about a pregnancy at that point. In order to be accepted at the Colorado clinic, we had to send medical documentation that there was severe risk to maternal or fetal health.

—Steve, NY


When I turned 16 I found myself pregnant and scared. Not knowing what I should do, I turned to a few friends and my boyfriend (father of baby). They told me that abortion just became legal and they knew where I could go to take care of the problem. It would be just like I was never pregnant. Wow, sounded pretty easy but a part of me said even though it's legal it didn't sound "right to do". Today, I wish I had had more information about this decision I made over 38 years ago.

My life was not like it was before I got pregnant. I got very involved in alcohol, drugs, and sex. My self esteem was very low, I suffered depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, feelings of isolation and despair. When I married my boyfriend it was for security reasons. We never talked about the abortion.

We had two children when he told me he was having an affair—and then I found out I was pregnant for our third child. The second child was only six months old. My life spiraled out of control. I was so ashamed and guilt ridden that I accepted the idea of having another abortion as it seemed to be the only "choice". My family encouraged me to do this, so again I went along with the idea. We divorced shortly after having a third child, my replacement baby.

Trying to raise three children alone I felt so lost and inadequate to be a mother, I left my children with their father. I clung to a new man in my life who would later become very controlling and my second husband. He too experienced a lost child from abortion, and laid a lot of guilt onto me because he found out years later that his first wife had aborted the only child he would ever have. I grew up a Catholic and I felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart to do better for myself.

I worked hard for a BA Degree, a good job and started returning to Mass and the Sacraments. I started praying for a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat for our area, and shortly after my prayers were answered. After the retreat my guilt and shame were gone. My self esteem grew and I was able and willing to share my testimonies. My second marriage ended in divorce but my relationship with my adult children began to blossom. I am now a very proud memaw to three grandchildren and very happy with my life. I am not alone anymore as I have developed a close relationship with Jesus. I am able to make my own decisions as guided by the Holy Spirit without outside influence. My wish is that no more women or men suffer from the guilt and shame from abortion. There are so many healing opportunities available now to help overcome the negative affects that abortion can have on a woman, a man, a family. I hope that more women learn the truth about abortion and its affects before they make that life changing decsion that often turns to regret.

—Nancy, NY


I am 65 now. In my teen years, abortion wasn’t legal, and there were rumors in my small town high school about girls who became pregnant and went to one of those doctors that would “take care of it” quietly. Of course, we didn’t know if the doctor was a “real” doctor, what his record was, or anything about him. Girls died when he wasn’t a real doctor, and some died even when it was a real doctor of infections, perforations, hemorrhaging.

I married when I was 18 and had become pregnant 3 weeks before our wedding. When I realized I was pregnant, we were already married—no job, still in school, and just stupid young people. We decided not to abort, although my husband’s parents wanted to “arrange something”. I love my daughter with all my heart.

When she was 14, my husband and I had divorced a few years before and I had moved to a new city with my daughter. We were struggling to pay the bills, child support was so low it was laughable. She became pregnant by a young man who was going away to join the military. She would risk her education, her future, and any normal teen experiences. We couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. I wanted her to have the choices and opportunities that I so stupidly had passed by, so we arranged an abortion.

I don’t advocate abortion as birth control and cry for every life that I see lost like this. But every person has their own way to make in life, their own body to take care of, and their own privacy to protect. I think we need to leave medical care and procedures, including pregnancy and childbirth, to the patient and their doctor and leave the bureaucrats out of it. They proved during this last election how stupid they are about female reproductive processes and they don’t qualify to make these decisions. Most of their decisions are based on religious beliefs, and they don’t have a right to dictate to others, either as part of their jobs or not.

—Anonymous, FL


When I was 20 years old, I had my first real girlfriend. She was 28 and a bit more experienced than me. We dated for six months and had sex regularly. I didn’t want to use a condom—because really who does?—and she was fine with that. She got pregnant after two months and told me that she was getting an abortion. I was in no position to argue.

For starters, she had not asked me my opinion. Even if she did, I wouldn’t have suggested she keep it. We were not going to last; we both knew that. We were only having a good time, although we did are about each other. We even told each other, ““I love you,"” although in retrospect I did not mean int. Moreover, I had been raised in an ultra-liberal household, where being pro-choice was the default position. I was taught to be a liberal, and I grew into an adult holding the opinion that if you got pregnant but were not ready for the child, abortion was a reasonable option.

In retrospect, I had a moment of reflection when she told me that this would be her fifth abortion. Yes, she was that woman that conservatives talk about who uses abortion as a form of birth control. Although this troubled me, it did not make me more desirous of bringing a baby into that relationship. I drove her to the clinic. In the lobby, a TV was turned to “Forrest Gump.” As I waited there, the scene played in which Jenny’s Black Panther boyfriend calls Forrest a “baby-killer.” No joke.

As we were driving home, she told me how there was a young woman in the room with her, before she went in to have the procedure actually done. The girl was upset, probably crying. My girlfriend told her it would be okay. She knew this from experience, and the wisdom of her previous four abortions I’m sure may have given some comfort to the young girl.

—Anonymous, MD


I’m 32 now. Married. With dogs. No kids. I still think about this a lot. I think about the rights of a fetus, and I’m sure that if people have rights and animals have rights, then a fetus must have some rights. Do they outweigh the rights of the mother? Probably not. But it bothers me when the issues gets so politicized and turned into a woman’s rights issue. Not just because the rights of a fetus are involved, but so are the rights of a man. I have been deeply affected by that abortion. I don’t want men to have the final say. But I want their voices heard, and I do not want them dismissed. Just because I am not a woman does not mean it is none of my business.

Do I wish she and I had changed our minds on the way to the abortion clinic? Probably not. I can’t envision a life with her and a child, but who could have envisioned where any of us end up? Life takes strange twists and turns, and I do believe there is some value in accepting the gift of life when it happens. But that’s not what I did, and if I had to do it over again, I doubt I would change my mind.”

I had an abortion March 1979—I was 18 years old and did not know what to do. Everyone I turned to for help told me to get an abortion. My school counselor told me that his wife had just had an abortion because they did not want kids at that time in their life. He went on to tell me that my life would be ruined if I had a child, he said no-one would ever want to marry me. I was a Christian and I knew in my heart that abortion was wrong, I just did not know what to do. I thought I would be homeless if my dad found out. My mom tried to help but she was scared too.

So, on March 24,1979 I walked to the hospital and had an abortion. I was 12 weeks pregnant. The night before my abortion, I did not sleep, I cried all night begging God to forgive me for what I was going to do. I even promised Him that one day I would help young girls that we’re facing an unplanned pregnancy.

—Janet, NM


I was 16 when I had my first abortion and for me there was no choice about it. No one supported me and I wasn’t given a choice. No one told me I’d be stopping a beating heart. I was 19 when I had my second abortion and by then I was so desensitized and lost…I just wanted the easiest way out of a horrible situation. I drowned out my grief over the years with men, pot and alcohol and denied I had a problem but after getting sober the grief hit me like a ton of bricks. When I got pregnant for my daughter and starting reading all the pregnancy books…I realized what I had done and I’ve been mourning ever since. Those babies weren’t just clumps of cells… they were my kids. I would never support another female who wants an abortion~ not for any reason. Life is life.

—Dina, NY


“I lost my virginity at age 16, a few years before Roe v. Wade. The condom broke. I thought I was pregnant for quite a while, as I had very irregular periods. I gained weight and had other “symptoms.” I told no one, so no one but me cheered when I finally got my period. I shudder to think what I might have done if I had been pregnant.

Years later, after Roe v. Wade, I took legal abortion for granted. A few friends admitted to having abortions. One friend had more than one. That seemed kind of irresponsible to me. I did my best to avoid pregnancy until age 32, when I ran out of birth control pills. I had unprotected sex with two different men. When I discovered I was pregnant, it was a huge shock. I could not bear the thought of having a baby as a single mother not knowing who the father was. I was incredibly relieved to be able to get an abortion and move on with my life in a better way. Within a few months I got married and became pregnant with my first child, and a second followed. I often think that my first child would not be here except for that abortion, which makes me feel better. I still miss the child that would have been, especially since I was unable to have a third child, being an older mother by the time I started trying. Still, I do not regret my decision and believe my life is better for it.”

—Anonymous, PA


I don’t think anyone has ever asked me what is your story about abortion. The fact is I had one at the beginning of last year. In February, one year will have passed. I think about it everyday. For me, abortion wasn’t about the right or wrong choice. It was a simply a choice I had to make and it has altered who I am and who I will be forever. I can’t change it. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had kept my baby, he or she would have been born in early October. I would have a baby in my arms right now. Abortion is personal, raw, heart-breaking and real. No matter if it is legal or not, abortion is hard for any woman. But the fact that it is legal, makes the process one step easier. I will never forget what happened to me, to my body, to the life I decided to end. It is a part of me. I carry it with me wherever I go, and I wish I could be more proud of myself for being able to make the decision and go through that experience. Maybe one day.

—Ainsley, MA


I would like to tell you a little story. It is a bit longer than many of these others but I ask you to please bear with me. My great grandmother was by all account a good an loving woman. She lived in Ireland with my great grandfather over a happy brood of children. They did not have much money and food was scarce as it was. They had enough to clothe the children and feed them but not much else. So when she became pregnant again my great grandmother and grandfather looked over their expenses and came to an inescapable conclusion: if they had the child they would not have enough money to properly feed it and clothe the entire family much less accomodate the inevitable unexpected expenses of doctors bills from when someone gets sick or unexpected costs come up as they always do.

So when faced with this they made their decision and, for the sake of the family, chose to abort the child. However, this was not exactly legal, abortion in Ireland. Well not at their time. So my great grandmother had to use an unlicensed physician to perform the operation. Now, what occurs next is...Well exactly what you would expect. She died shortly thereafter of an infection. Leaving her family without a mother. The children did not go hungry as they had feared. But they no longer had their mother. Now I don't know what would have happened if she had been able to go to a proper physician. With conditions the way they were back then maybe she would have gotten the infection anyway. But I cannot help but feel that she was unnecessarily taken from her family. Abortions are necessary at times, and we should not forget the toll to the living when we ban them.

--Anonymous


I had an abortion at the start of my senior year of college. My boyfriend and I had been using birth control at the time and it failed. It was an awful predicament to face. On the one hand, I could complete my degree and continue the plans I'd made for a career. On the other hand, I could have a baby and maybe finish my degree some years down the road, and in the meantime I would lose what little independence I had recently gained in my life.

The decision whether or not to continue a pregnancy is not taken lightly. Either course will alter your future. It took well over a decade before I shared my decision with anyone but a handful who were dear friends at the time. I feared how I would be judged for having had an abortion. I realize now that this self-imposed silence was a mistake. There is a gross misrepresentation of the character of a woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy. But look around, she may be your doctor, your accountant, your manager, your secretary, your neighbor. Yes, that nice lady with the nice family down the street who brings cookies to the bake sale.

One of the most wonderful things about the female body is the ability to have more than one child in a lifetime. In the end, my decision to end that pregnancy my senior year at college was not difficult to make and I have never regretted it.

Years later my boyfriend and I married (yes, that same boyfriend). And now we have a wonderful daughter and the lives we'd always hoped for ourselves and our family.

--C. Reed, WA


I was a naive 18-year-old college freshman and pregnant following my first sexual experience. It was 1966 and I was terrified. There was so much I wanted to accomplish, I had no idea how I would care for a child and my boyfriend had distanced himself from the situation.

I vividly recall going with my father to an apartment in the city where an elderly woman met us at the door, asked for her $700, and took me to a back bedroom. She performed the abortion on a twin-sized bed. I remember the pain (no anesthetic). I also recall the shame - neither she nor my father spoke to me that day. At the end of the procedure, she stuffed a tampon into me and sent us home.

As I was recovering from the ordeal, the gynecologist who had diagnosed the pregnancy called to ask for the name of the abortionist. He had another young patient in trouble who needed help.

I am now 65 years old and can still remember every sight, sound and pain of that day. It was a painful and horrific experience, but given the choice I would not change my decision. It was right for me. That being said, no woman should have to be shamed or punished for making decisions related to her health and her body. It is our obligation to provide that woman with a medically safe alternative that respects her as a person. I can assure you, no one makes a decision of this magnitude lightly. Thank you for this opportunity. I know this post is long, but I have never really spoken or written about my abortion before.

--Anonymous


After struggling to get pregnant for 11 months, I found out that I was pregnant with triplets. I wanted to keep all three of them. Five doctors recommended that I terminate one fetus to better my chances of having two healthy babies. (The risk to triplets are due mainly to premature birth). After doing my own research, I realized that it was irrefutable that the risk that the babies would miscarry, die within a year of birth or be seriously handicapped for the rest of their lives was much higher than that of twins or singleton pregnancies; the absolute risks were quite high as well. It was a hard, sad decision that I wished that I didn't have to make, but I aborted one fetus to give my other children a chance for a healthy life. I still cry over it, but I am grateful that there were no government regulations preventing me and my partner from making a life-saving decision for our family.

--Anonymous, NY


For personal reasons I've had 2 abortions -- one before Roe which was performed in a Dr.'s office in PA (the only place we could find) after hours and as soon as it was over I was sent home with specific instructions to go to an emergency room if I started hemorrhaging. But NOT reveal the source. The second (legal) was performed in a medical clinic with support staff and follow up medical assistance.

--Anonymous


My wife became very ill during a very wanted pregnancy causing the fetal problems and a high risk of stroke for her. The problem developed during the end of the third trimester. If she continued to carry the fetus, her life was in danger. The doctors suggested an emergency c-section which would have delivered a 2 pound fetus already with problems. If delivered, and he survived, he may never have left intensive care, ever.

So we opted to terminate the pregnancy. We had to travel to Colorado because there were only two centers in the country that would perform late-pregnancy abortions. It was the most emotionally painful decision we have had to make.

People have a misconception of late pregnancy abortions. One cannot just change their mind about a pregnancy at that point. In order to be accepted at the Colorado clinic, we had to send medical documentation that there was severe risk to maternal or fetal health.

--Steve, NY


When I turned 16 I found myself pregnant and scared. Not knowing what I should do, I turned to a few friends and my boyfriend (father of baby). They told me that abortion just became legal and they knew where I could go to take care of the problem. It would be just like I was never pregnant. Wow, sounded pretty easy but a part of me said even though it's legal it didn't sound "right to do". Today, I wish I had had more information about this decision I made over 38 years ago.

My life was not like it was before I got pregnant. I got very involved in alcohol, drugs, and sex. My self esteem was very low, I suffered depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, feelings of isolation and despair. When I married my boyfriend it was for security reasons. We never talked about the abortion.

We had two children when he told me he was having an affair—and then I found out I was pregnant for our third child. The second child was only six months old. My life spiraled out of control. I was so ashamed and guilt ridden that I accepted the idea of having another abortion as it seemed to be the only "choice". My family encouraged me to do this, so again I went along with the idea. We divorced shortly after having a third child, my replacement baby.

Trying to raise three children alone I felt so lost and inadequate to be a mother, I left my children with their father. I clung to a new man in my life who would later become very controlling and my second husband. He too experienced a lost child from abortion, and laid a lot of guilt onto me because he found out years later that his first wife had aborted the only child he would ever have. I grew up a Catholic and I felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart to do better for myself.

I worked hard for a BA Degree, a good job and started returning to Mass and the Sacraments. I started praying for a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat for our area, and shortly after my prayers were answered. After the retreat my guilt and shame were gone. My self esteem grew and I was able and willing to share my testimonies. My second marriage ended in divorce but my relationship with my adult children began to blossom. I am now a very proud memaw to three grandchildren and very happy with my life. I am not alone anymore as I have developed a close relationship with Jesus. I am able to make my own decisions as guided by the Holy Spirit without outside influence. My wish is that no more women or men suffer from the guilt and shame from abortion. There are so many healing opportunities available now to help overcome the negative affects that abortion can have on a woman, a man, a family. I hope that more women learn the truth about abortion and its affects before they make that life changing decsion that often turns to regret.

--Nancy, NY


I was very careful, but twice, over a twenty year period my birth control measures failed and I became pregnant. I was not in a position either time to have a child. I was not in a committed relationship with either man and I was not in a postion to take care of a child by myself. I was not afraid of having a child on my own, although it was not really acceptable in the eighties, but I didn't want my child to live with want and with the tension that comes from two parents living apart. I could not afford health insurance but made enough money that I could not qualify for any medical assistance. I thought very long, and very hard about my choices, about what I believed was the right way to parent and I made the decision to have an abortion. I was sad about it. I still wonder what those children would have been like. I feel the same way about the baby I lost at a little more than 3 months into my third, planned, pregnancy. But I have never regretted my choice. My son was born into a committed relationship that has lasted over twenty years with two parents who love him dearly. We still scrape to make ends meet but my son has a sane mother...one who has been able to enjoy his growing up into a marvelous young man because she wasn't always frightened of what came next and how we would make it.

The important thing is, I had a choice. I was able to make a reasoned decision based on my beliefs, on what I held to be important. Choice is the issue here, we all don't have the same beliefs, we all don't see the world the same, and by allowing choice we allow women to make decisions for themselves. Not all women may be as comfortable with their choices twenty years down the road but most women are. We made OUR choices.

--Selkie, MI


No birth control worked for me. I tried everything- and while I was young and in a relationship with an alcoholic man, who I loved at the time, I became pregnant 5 times. So I had 5 abortions. They were safe and legal. I was lucky. It allowed me time to meet someone who was meant to be a father and to develop my own successful career. I now have 3 smart healthy children who have been well educated and taken care of throughout their lives. I never would have been able to create the sort of environment I believe is important for giving children the tools to become good citizens- had I been forced to have children at an earlier age. My life would have been very different.

My own mother had an illegal abortion in the 1950s in New York City. It cost her $2,000.00. Her story is interesting, as one thing I think we all need to remember in this discussion is - that people who have money will ALWAYS be able to get a safe abortion if they need one. (That includes rich Republican daughters too!) She had to go to some lengths to get one- but she did. It was performed (it turned out-) by one of the top OB/GYNs in NYC at the time. Unfortunately he was caught in a sting operation and not allowed to complete an abortion he was performing several days after hers, and a woman died on his table. My mother always felt that she was very fortunate that it hadn't been her. She campaigned throughout her life for abortion rights. No one has the right to TELL US what we should do with our bodies. Rich or poor this is a basic human right that we deserve.

--Julia, CA


I worked in a private hospital's surgical unit before abortion was legal. What I witnessed were numerous weekly "exploratory" D and C's on young women from wealthy families (D and C's that, as an aside, caused the termination of a preganacy), and a few horrible self mutilations from failed illegal abortions done on themselves by poor young women who had no option, no money, and no connections. Legal abortion is a necessary evil. It is appropriate and, many times, necessary.

--Anonymous, MN


I was 18 years old and newly having sex. My boyfriend at the time and I both thought it felt better without condoms and that he could pull out in time. Well, one night in April, he did not pull out in time. I'll never forget what he said to me after. "You should go home and shower and try to get it out of you, I don't think I pull out in time.”

Although I knew better, I did so anyway. Two months later, I went to a clinic and got a pregnancy test. When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't stop crying. I already knew I was pregnant, I was experiencing morning sickness, food aversions, food cravings, extreme fatigue, my nipples changed color and became extremely sensitive. I was even having a little round belly!

Still, it took me another month before I could go back to make another appointment for an abortion. When I had my ultrasound to determine how far along I was, I was told I was 16 weeks exactly.

Because I was in the second trimester, my abortion would be a two day event. The first day, I would have a piece of dried seaweed called a laminaria inserted into my cervix to start the dilation. The second day would be the d/e.

Imagine being 18, in the heat of summer, overwhelmed by what you're doing, scared that you might die and have no one to talk to and no one to experience this with. That was me. It was so humiliating, so humbling, so adult. I was still barely a teen. I felt more like a kid.

I bled for a month after.

I remember the bruises on my arms from all the blood samples, the slow movements, the kind nurses, the statement I had to write on an index card proclaiming I was doing this on my own volition, the panic I felt when I thought the nurse was going to deny me an abortion.

This all happened a week before my 19th birthday.

I think everyone should be entitled to their own opinion. But I'm not regretful I had an abortion. I was too young, too naive, too inexperienced. It would have forced me to grow up and made my life harder than it should be.

I'm still wistful for what could have been. But I'm also thankful at the second chance I get because Roe allowed me to have this abortion. When I read about states changing laws preventing 2nd term pregnancies from being aborted, I shudder because that easily could have been me denied that necessary choice.

I'm 26 now and questioning a bit seriously whether or not I want to have kids in the future. Because the future is coming closer and I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to naturally have kids. Maybe I'll just adopt.

But whatever I choose in the future, I'm glad I was able to choose in my past.

--Anonymous


I support the option of abortion. I had an abortion 30+ years ago and have never regretted it. I made the conscious decision based upon reflection and prayer of what was going on in my life at the time. In the end, it was about who exactly was going to have to live with my decision: not just me but also this potential person.

The father of the child and I had separated 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant. He offered to marry me to fulfill "his sense of duty." In order for this to happen I would have to "immediately quit school and not work outside the home." He would give up his dream of going to medical school and get a job. This was not the future I envisioned. There was no way I could support a child on my own and I could not count on support from my parents. I knew I wanted children, just not at that time.

To his credit, the father accompanied me to the clinic and stayed with me that night to make sure I was OK. To this day I thank God I had that option and to do so safely.

The end result for me was the determination that the next time I got pregnant it would be with a person with whom both respected and treated me as an equal. Two years later I found that person and together we have raised 3 wonderful children.

Not everyone who has an abortion suffers mental issues nor does everyone who gives birth enjoy good mental health. I think it boils down to how much control you feel you have over your own life. RvW can be one means to that end.

--Jan Wolfe, VA


I was an 18 year old college student in 1976 when I became pregnant and made the most horrible, regretful decision of my life. I aborted my son during a painful, horrendous ""procedure"" which I was told was going to make my "problem" go away. I bled and had severe cramping that continued for many days after the abortion. The shame, guilt and remorse began almost immediately realizing what I had done. I could not go back and change my mind. This emotional scar has followed me through the rest of my life. Depression set in as I agonized over whether I had taken the life of a boy or a girl. Nightmares, attempts at suicide, failed relationships and a withdrawal from society followed. Each time I would see a mom and baby together, there was heart wrenching pain. It took many years of counseling and a healing retreat called Rachel's Vineyard before I could finally speak about this terrible mistake I had made and begin to forgive myself for it.

I am now a 55 yr old married mother of two and grandmother of one, with another on the way. I know that my abortion has taken my child away from me and I will never forget him. I want to tell any woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy, abortion is WRONG for women. It takes the life of an innocent baby and forever wounds the mother and father. I will no longer remain silent about abortion! I have become active with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as a Regional Coordinator for my state. My husband and I speak to high school students and on college campuses to expose the truth about abortion.

I don't want another woman and her family to experience this pain.

--Anonymous, MO