Editor’s note: Throughout the last year as increasingly extreme and restrictive anti-abortion bills gained traction and went into effect on the state level, reproductive healthcare providers, advocates and patients around the United States continued doing the work they always do: They educated (unpacking the various ways the bill infringes on reproductive freedoms for pregnant people in Texas, particularly for low-income people of color), they organized (showing folks where to put their money and their energy to do the most good) and many of them did the emotional heavy-lifting of sharing their own stories of receiving vital abortion care. We’re revisiting these feelings yet again as we take time to grieve and consider the future of reproductive healthcare in a post-Roe America.
I say this all the time as someone who reports on reproductive rights and justice and who has worked in reproductive health non-profits over the years: You absolutely know and love someone who has had an abortion or will someday have one. Access to this care is a part of so many family’s stories and the ability to safely and efficiently get to a clinic, to afford the care they need and to know that their families and livelihoods are safe as they do so is foundational to living freely as a person with a uterus.
One mother, who works in reproductive health, shared with SheKnows her own abortion story, with the hope that all people will be able to access the care they need as they need it. I encourage you to read and share this with your friends and loved ones, particularly those who don’t think of reproductive health as an issue that is relevant to them. Because it absolutely is. Abortion access is a mother’s issue. It’s a parenting issue. And it’s a human rights issue.
— Katherine Speller, Health & Sex Editor at SheKnows
One of the best parenting decisions I’ve made was to have an abortion.
I’m sure not everyone would consider this a parenting decision, but I promise you it is. The decision about when and whether to have a child is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. And for those of us who already have children, deciding to have an abortion is common: About six in 10 women who have abortions in the United States are already mothers.
I gave birth last year to my first (and maybe only) child. Pregnancy wasn’t an easy road for me and my postpartum experience wasn’t much better- I had no idea I’d be parenting in a pandemic. I know a lot has already been written about how awful this pandemic has been for mothers, and I can attest to that: I haven’t seen most of my loved ones in over a year, my marriage and mental health have suffered, and the support I hoped to have while raising my daughter is nonexistent.
So when I unexpectedly became pregnant earlier this year, I was appalled. When I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, it was one of the happiest days of my life. This time, I felt nothing but despair. I was in no shape to have another child while I was experiencing the worst depression of my life. Having a second baby during the pandemic would have broken me, and probably my husband, too. Plus, I had a daughter who needed me to take care of myself so that I could care for her. It was important to me to be the best mother I could for the child I had.
“It was important to me to be the best mother I could for the child I had.”
It wasn’t a difficult decision for me, in fact, I knew instantly that I needed to have an abortion. I was very lucky: I have a partner who was supportive of my decision and I had an abortion within days of learning I was pregnant. I didn’t have to walk past people screaming ugly things at me or wait an arbitrary (and medically unnecessary) 48 or 72 hours to get the care I needed like in other states. I also didn’t have any trouble paying for my abortion.
I never imagined I’d need an abortion until I did, and I appreciate that I was treated with respect when making the decision that was best for me and my family. Since then, I’ve felt nothing but relief. I hope everyone who needs an abortion can easily get the support and care they need.
Unfortunately, in most of America, that’s simply impossible.
There are dozens of states that are hostile to abortion rights, and Texas’ near-total abortion ban just went into effect. In addition to banning abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant, with no exceptions for rape or incest, the law allows private citizens to act as bounty hunters and sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion and collect $10,000. It also lets anyone who disapproves of your abortion to obtain a court order stopping your abortion. The goal is to get more clinics to shut down and make abortion impossible to access.
And of course, these abortion bans hurt those who already struggle to access care the most, including those who are working to make ends meet, young people, LGBTQ people and BIPOC communities.
This should shock and anger everyone. However you may feel about abortion, these decisions are personal and everyone should be able to plan their families without barriers or political interference.
For those of you who live in a blue state like me and think nothing like this could ever happen to you, I’m sorry to tell you that’s not the case. That doesn’t mean that people will stop needing to get abortions, it just means that more people will have to travel to another state (if they have the means to do so) or self-manage their abortions.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s up to all of us to speak up and support Texans and all Americans who deserve access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care. We cannot allow politicians to make these important medical and parenting decisions for us.
So please, call your representatives and demand that we protect and expand access to abortion care. Donate to Texas abortion funds like the Lilith Fund and the Texas Equal Access Fund if you can. Attend a rally. Talk with your friends and family about what’s at stake. Share your own abortion story if you can, because we need to hear from real people who are affected by these terrible laws.
It breaks my heart to think that my daughter, and all the kids in her generation, might grow up with fewer rights than I had. Abortion is health care, and it’s a parenting issue. We deserve better than this.
A version of this story was published September 2021.
If you or someone you know needs an abortion but aren’t sure how to access care in your state, you can find more information at ineedana.com and find your local abortion fund at National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF).