When I was 19 years old I had an abortion. Very few people know.

Now you know too.

I was in a college psychology class when I got the call. I remember my world spinning out of control, as if all the things that mattered to me was no longer still and attainable. Everything that mattered was escaping me. I saw the disappointment of my family, the college-drop out stereotype, the future I envisioned, the family I wanted, the stability I craved all flee from my reach. My world, in seconds, crashed.

When I told the would-be father, who was my boyfriend of only one year at the time, he cried. His cry was made of panic and fear. It was desperate and painfully innocent. It was as if suddenly and aggressively life threw him into a quick sand of real life problems. It was apparent that no part of him wanted this. It was apparent that no part of him could have done this, even if he wanted to try.

A combination of unfortunate (depending on your perspective) situations led me to decide to abort…I still have a hard time identifying it.

Three weeks before I found out I was pregnant, I had been taking pain meds, twice a day, for a surgery I had four weeks prior to finding out. I was eight weeks pregnant. For four of those weeks, I was consuming prescription drugs along with the anesthesia used in the surgery. Knowing this could more than likely cause a miscarriage or an unhealthy fetus, I decided to abort it.

Life went on and in the years since I’ve come to pretend to accept my decision. The only people I ever told were women who shared the same grief, denial, shame, and guilt. Women who shared everything but acceptance.

Until now, significantly.

With Justice Kennedy’s abrupt departure from the Supreme Court, the country faces a possible frightening overturn of Roe v. Wade. This means the historical decision to establish the constitutional right for pro-choice could be taken away. Essentially, abortion rights will no longer be available. Rose v. Wade was a right Justice Kennedy has protected for most of his career. With Kennedy’s retirement comes the concerning possibility that president Trump’s nomination, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will quickly take away the right to pro-choice.

But even with this looming over us, women are talking more and more about something men know nothing about- their pregnancies and the decisions to abort it.

Photo by Erii Gutierrez

I spoke to three women who each shared their abortion stories with me –

Cassie, 29

My abortion was last year and I still fully haven’t forgiven myself. Most of the time, I feel like it was a cop out, a cowardly decision. But I also know I made the right decision. I just hate that I feel so bad. It hurts me. You become a mother the minute you become pregnant. I was almost 8 weeks pregnant and in the two days I took to think about my decision, I was very cautious about what I was eating, drinking and inhaling (I wouldn’t even walk by smokers). So I instantly became a nurturer. The man that was supposed to be the father… he and I broke up two weeks prior. We had been dating for a year but guess what, I found out he had a WIFE and CHILDREN in another state. I don’t have social media, which I guess means you’re left in the dark but a good friend of mine found his Instagram and well, everything was revealed. I didn’t want the baby. I didn’t want my baby growing up in a single parent home with a struggling and broken mother. I didn’t want a repeat of my life. I made the right decision by keeping a baby from being born into an unhappy environment. I wasn’t raped and I wasn’t incredibly young so I have a hard time accepting my own decision. It’s almost as if I wasn’t in the worst of situations to choose this outcome. Even taking the pill- it was easy. But accepting it all weighs on me. Even now that I know I made the right decision, every night I light candles and ask for forgiveness.   

Angelica, 19

When I was 16 I was on my way home from school last year when a classmate’s older brother kidnapped me for three days and two nights. He kept me in the room of his closet with my hands and legs bound and tape over my mouth. He would tell his family he was eating in his room to get work done- that’s when he would hand feed me his food. At night, he would rape me. Before that, I was a virgin.

I knew right away I was pregnant. You kind of just feel it when your body is now hosting another soul. When the police finally found me, they took me to the doctors who found nothing but sign of rape. The next few weeks were dedicated to healing. I went to therapy, I was home schooled, and I began taking self defense classes. Except, I wouldn’t talk to my therapist. I panicked every time my self defense (male) teacher would touch me and I was having a hard time loving myself. About a month after I was kidnapped, at a routine hospital visit, I found out I was pregnant. I instantly knew I wanted to abort it but my mother, a hardcore Catholic, did not even consider it. I began to accept that I would be raising my rapist’s child. I had dreams of suffocating the baby to death, throwing him off cliffs, or starving him. I hated what my subconscious was tell me. It wasn’t long after I began cutting myself. I even attempted suicide about 5 times. There’s no way I was going to be a mother. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t what was meant for my life at that moment.

By the 5th suicide attempt, my mother understood I was still overcoming my situation. Taking away from myself to take care of another would have ruined me at that age, all things considered.

Sometimes I still feel bad. There’s definitely a shame attached to it. But I know I did not want my rapist’s baby.

Shaina, 34

I cheated on my husband. We were going through a really tough time and I needed attention. I needed flattery. I needed to feel wanted. I already had two kids and I felt like I was losing myself to the mom and wife role I was expected to fulfill. I started an affair with a guy younger than me. Much younger. I was 29 and he was barely 18 years old. About eight months into the affair I found out I was 10 weeks pregnant. I remember spotting here and there throughout the months. I must’ve thought it was a light period.

I knew it was my boyfriend’s baby and not my husband’s I did the math. The baby was my boyfriend’s. I was ready to own up to my affair and have the baby. I was ready to discuss divorce and co-parent with my boyfriend. In retrospect, it was such an irrational expectation. When I told my boyfriend, he flat out told me he wouldn’t raise it or claim it. The next day, he had changed his number. I never talked to him again. I was broken. Not because I wanted to be with him but because I realized I was alone. I also realized I would be forever changing my husband and children’s life.

The abortion was horrible. I was passed 8 weeks so they had to do the surgical procedure. I laid on my back in the doctor’s office as a vacuum like tube was inserted inside of me. Then I think that’s what happened- my baby was vacuumed outside of me.  I was devastated. On the way to my car I was in so much pain- both physically and emotionally. I bled for days, my breasts were sore and I couldn’t stop crying. I told my husband I was sad because I felt our marriage wasn’t working out and that I needed space. For one week, I stayed with family. I told them as well as my kids the same thing- that I my husband and I needed some time apart to figure things out.

In reality, I needed time to myself to cope with the depression and both physical and emotional pain that came with my decision. To this day, no one knows the truth and often I think about who that baby would’ve been today. 

Brave women sharing their stories is reinforcing that our bodies means our choices. Period.