Like many other women across the United States, I am a mom who has had an abortion. I am not ashamed of my decision to terminate a pregnancy before I was ready, willing, and able to be a mother, and it's a medical decision I have discussed at great length with literally thousands of people numerous times. But moms aren't always supported in their choice to have an abortion, just like many other people who seek out abortion care when they need it. Instead, we face unnecessary roadblocks, shame, stigma, and judgment. Well, I say enough.
Abortion is a safe, common, legal medical procedure. In fact, it's much safer than most other common medical procedures. "As an example, the mortality rate associated with a colonoscopy is more than 40 times greater than that of an abortion," Jeanne Conry, former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Kaiser Health News. Yet the anti-choice movement and its advocates peddle falsehoods about not only the safety of an abortion procedure, but the type of people who choose abortion for themselves. From claiming people who have abortions are selfish to swearing they're irresponsible to assuming they never want children, there's a slew of misconceptions people face when terminating a pregnancy.
But according to the Guttmacher Institute, 59 percent of the women obtaining abortions are already mothers. And of the 24 percent of women who will have an abortion by age 45, 51 percent were using contraception, nearly half were living with a partner when they became pregnant, and 14 percent were married. A reported 66 percent of women who've terminated a pregnancy " "plan to have children when they are older, financially able to provide necessities for them, and/or in a supportive relationship with a partner so their children will have two parents," according to a report published by the National Abortion Federation (NAF). So chances are what you're hearing about mothers who've had abortion is not only inaccurate, but potentially damaging to the individual who has decided to make her own personal, medical decision. So with that in mind, and as a woman who had an abortion and went on to have a healthy, happy son, here's what we need to start saying — loudly — about moms who terminate their pregnancies:
We Know What's Best For Our Families
In my opinion, if you're going to trust a person to raise a tiny human being into a capable, kind, independent adult, you should trust them to make their own medical decisions about their own bodies. As a mother, I know what is best for myself and my family.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the three most common reasons for ending a pregnancy were "concern for or responsibility for other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school, or the ability to care for dependents." We know what's best for us and the people who depend on us, and no one else has the right to tell us otherwise.
We're Still Autonomous Human Beings
I am currently pregnant with my second child, so believe me when I say I know what it's like to lose some of your bodily autonomy to pregnancy and, after your baby is born, to a tiny human being who (if you're breastfeeding) must be attached to you in order to survive. But becoming a mom doesn't mean your body is automatically no longer your own. We're still human beings, with the intrinsic right to control our own bodies.
When I gave birth to my son, I still had a say in what doctors and nurses did to my body. When my son was born, I still had a say in how I would or would not use my body to feed him. Motherhood doesn't erase our humanity, and it certainly doesn't give anyone the right to tell us what to do with our bodies, are lives, and essentially shape our futures.
My choice to have an abortion was a choice of compassion. I knew that if I were to carry a pregnancy to term and become a parent, I wouldn't be able to adequately provide for a child in a way he or she deserved. I also had intense compassion for myself, and knew I needed to love myself enough to give myself the future I had always wanted; a future that wouldn't have been possible if I had a child when I wasn't ready.
And I was right. A few years later when I was in a healthy relationship, financially stable, established in the career I have always wanted, and ready for parenthood, I was able to be the compassionate, loving, capable mother every child deserves.
There is a lot of misinformation about abortion shared, consumed, and regurgitated, so it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction. From claiming abortion causes breast cancer (according to the American Cancer Society, "scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer) to abortion causing depression (a study from the University of California San Francisco found that while having an abortion doesn't impact a woman's longterm mental health, being denied access to abortion care does), to claiming abortion causes infertility (according to NBC News, both surgical and medical abortions do not increase the risk of problems in later pregnancies), anti-abortion advocates are quick to claim abortion is dangerous and those who choose to have them aren't informed of the so-called risks.
But abortion isn't dangerous at all (it is one of the safest medical procedures a person can have) and if a patient is provided non-biased, factual medical information by an OB-GYN and abortion provider, nurse, or certified health care clinic, they will be extremely well-informed prior to making any medical decision.
I know I was.
We're Sure Of Our Decision
There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I was making the best decision for me when I ended my pregnancy, and I never doubted or regretted my decision once my abortion was over, either. I'm not alone. According to a 2015 study published in the multidisciplinary academic journal PLOS ONE, 95 percent of women who have abortions do not regret their decision. And according to the Guttmacher Institute, a 2013 study of Wisconsin's mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound law found that 93 percent of women were certain about their decision to terminate their pregnancies.
We know what we're doing, we just want people to trust our ability to make the best decision for ourselves and our families.
We're Just Like Any Other Mom
Chances are, you know a mom who has had an abortion. She might not share her story as openly as I do, thanks to prevailing stigma and judgment, but she could very well be your friend, your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your mom, or your coworker. And while she might make different decisions and choices than you do — she might breastfeed instead of bottle-feed, co-sleep instead of sleep-train, or babywear instead of push a stroller — she is just like any other mom who, when faced with a decision, does what she believes is best for her and her family.
We Deserve Support
Like any other mother facing any other decision, we deserve support. Like any other person facing any other medical decision, we deserve support.
We're Not Alone
In the United States, one in four women will have an abortion during their lifetime. Abortion is common. Abortion is legal. Abortion is safe. And just like any other mom, those of us that have had an abortion aren't alone.