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One in three women in the United States will have an abortion in their lifetime.

An open and honest dialogue destigmatizes the issue of choice and brings it out of the shadows and into the public forum where it belongs. Please share your story.

(Only first names and age will be displayed with your story.)

There if I Needed It (Megan, 37)

At 17, I was the first of my friends to have sex. Growing up in a middle-class suburb of the Twin Cities, I was lucky that when I thought I was pregnant there was a safe place I could go to get a free pregnancy test without shame or pressure. I was at the top of my senior class and on my way to being the first of my family to go to college – my whole life was ahead of me. I knew that a baby would take away all my future prospects. When the test came back negative I was relieved. Looking back, I don”t think I realized at the time how lucky I was to have the option of an abortion if I needed it. But now, watching the restrictions being placed on a woman’s reproductive rights across the country, I wonder what my life would be like now if that test came back positive.

Lucky to Live in Illinois (Sara, 38)

When I found out at 21 weeks pregnant that my second pregnancy, my wanted unborn baby had a fetal abnormality that would not correct itself and result in certain death of the newborn, there was only one decision that my husband and I could make. To terminate the pregnancy. We of course consulted with the area’s top doctors to make sure there were no other solutions. Because who actually wants to have an abortion? No one. But the only answer was clear, and we felt lucky to be able to implement our action plan without question. Because we live in Illinois, I was able to terminate my pregnancy at 23 weeks swiftly and without complications from politicians or activists telling me what I could or could not do. Others aren’t as lucky as we were. But we will continue the fight to choose, here and elsewhere to make sure women who find themselves in complicated situations don’t have to worry about compromising their constitutional right. And to all those who care, I wanted to have a baby. And I went on to have a beautiful healthy boy.

Not Meant To Be (Laurel, 42)

I always used a condom. Always. Except that one time, when I had sex on my birthday with a stranger. I thought I had a condom with me, but it turns out I didn’t. He thought he had one, but didn’t. We were drunk, and I guess we didn’t pull out in time. I didn’t have any experience with that anyway, since I always used condoms. He left. I didn’t even know his name. I was living in another country on the other side of the planet. Three weeks later, I started noticing changes in my body and figured out that I was pregnant. I didn’t think it was fair to raise a child who would never find out who their father was, and I didn’t have the means or support system to do it by myself. Luckily, abortion is legal in the country I was living in. I went to the hospital. It was a birthing hospital, filled with pregnant women and babies. Naturally the doctor assumed that I wanted to keep it. He told me he was anti-choice and would not do the procedure, but he passed me along to another doctor that would. At this hospital, they knock you out for an abortion, so I have no memory of the procedure. I was in pain afterwards. I called in sick to work and rested for the remainder of the day. I still think about it sometimes. I would have had a 12 year old by now. But it wasn’t meant to be. I’m glad I had the choice, and I don’t regret it at all. But there are certain family members that I can never tell, because they would be too hurt that this is the choice I made.

“Glad I Had The Choice,” Amanda

The first time was totally agonizing. I beat myself up over it for months and carried it with me like a cross to bear. The second time was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe that I was doing this again. I didn’t learn my lesson, I guess, but I didn’t carry as much grief. More than anything, I was relieved. I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t with the right guy. The third time was an eye opener. Was I a whore? Was I an idiot? Was I definitely, positively going to hell? These thoughts hung over me up until it was over, because again,
once it was over, I was so glad that I was able to move on.

Clearly, I had a lot of growing up to do. I needed to be more careful with my body, with choosing my partners, and the possibility of life’s little what-ifs. But I also really wish that there wasn’t such a stigma. That I could have held someone else’s hand who’d been in my shoes at that time. Someone that would have said, it’s going to be okay. I’ve met other girls that have had my experience over the years. Multiple times even. I don’t think I’ve heard any of them say they regret it. In fact, if I could go back and do it all over, I don’t think I would change a thing.

I’m so thankful that I had the CHOICE every time. Now, I’m finally in a place in life and with a partner in life where I WANT to have a child. I’m READY for a child. I don’t carry the same emotional weight that I did before. I was able to accept myself and move on after better understanding myself and hearing others’ stories. Plus, I know that now that I’m ready, the love and care I’ll have for any babies that bless me moving forward will outshine whatever would have been possible for us when it wasn’t the right time for me.

I really am glad I had the choice.

“Thank God I Lived in Illinois,” Katie

I married my abusive, soon to be ex-husband 13 years ago. I was miserable right away but somehow, I let myself get pregnant for the first time in my life at age 30. I was pro-choice but I felt that even though I would be sealing my fate by having a baby with angry, extremely difficult man, I couldn’t justify having an abortion to myself, since I was married and could support the baby. After the baby was born I had an IUD put in.

I got pregnant a few weeks later. The relationship was even worse and I was drowning as a new mom with an abusive husband. This time I didn’t hesitate and I’ve never regretted my decision. The baby would have been 11 months younger than the baby I already had. I would have lost my mind and been unable to be a decent mother to my first baby.

Thank god I lived in Illinois. Thank god for the doctor who performed the procedure and those who helped her.

“Life is difficult enough,” (LaShawne, 45)

I am an advocate of pro-choice because I was a young teenager that was abused sexually by my biological male parent. Fortunately, I didn’t get pregnant but at sixteen it could have very well been my reality. He didn’t use a condom so it was a blessing that all I got was a STD; instead of a unwanted pregnancy to go along with this messed up situation. If there weren’t trained staff members available to assist me through this traumatic time in my life, who knows how my sexual organs may have been damaged.

My female parent and immediate family members weren’t mentally or financially capable to give me the protection or support that this incident caused; with or without a baby. I don’t want to imagine how I may have suffered more psychologically and physically by enduring an unwanted pregnancy from my predator as well. It has taken me years to learn to live with the incidents that occurred with limited help from my family.

Young girls and women should never have to suffer more by not having the pro-choice option available. Life is difficult enough by having to deal with the rape or the molestation. Having to carry a predator’s child inside you can be a death sentence for a survivor. Forcing or shaming a woman into carrying a predator’s seed should never be permitted PERIOD! #prochoicematters

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