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By Mica — National Storyteller of Planned Parenthood

No one should feel ashamed for having more than one abortion.

I am no stranger to abortion. I have had three. While I don’t regret them, I do wish I had been better equipped to move forward without feeling ashamed or stigmatized.

I grew up in a Christian household where my parents never talked to me about sex. I went to Christian schools until high school so I was taught that only abstinence was acceptable before marriage. The only sex education I had was one health class in public high school.

I started having sex at the age of 18. I was pressured by my boyfriend at the time. I was not on birth control. He also pressured me into other things like partying and drinking. By 19, I was drinking heavily and having unprotected sex with a few people at parties. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I realized I could’ve been pregnant by two different people. One laughed at me, while the other one wanted me to keep the pregnancy and move in with him and his family. Even though I was young and didn’t know what I wanted from my life yet, I knew I didn’t want to do that. I also couldn’t go to my family because of their views on premarital sex and abortion.

Luckily, I had one friend that I could tell. She urged me to contact the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. From there, I reached the Iowa Abortion Access Fund and the national fund in order to get financial assistance.

I was scared and felt so lost. I felt bad about myself and my life choices — because that’s how I thought I was supposed to feel. I thought I was supposed to feel ashamed. What I realize now was that getting that first abortion was not shameful. It was merely the right thing to do at the time. I had a friend drive me to the clinic for a medical abortion, and things went smoothly.

Later in my life, while with my partner of five years, I had an abortion when my birth control failed.

Then in November 2020, I found out I was pregnant again. I wasn’t properly taking the pills I was prescribed. I had tried the Depo shot for about two years, but it exacerbated my mental health problems. I didn’t know if I could afford an IUD without insurance.

I was so grateful to have my partner by my side while we considered what we should do.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had my period and by what I could remember, I must have been 11-12 weeks along. The cut off date for abortion in Iowa is 20 weeks. While I knew I did not really want to have an abortion, I knew I could also not care for a child. I made this decision knowing I wanted children but I was still heavily drinking and struggling to remain sober while also dealing with untreated mental illness. There was absolutely no way I could raise a child. We were also both earning low incomes, so we could not financially afford to have a child. So together, he and I made the decision — with a heavy heart — and we knew it was right.

It was very stressful for both of us. We were nervous because we didn’t know if we could pay for an in-clinic abortion. We would have to let some bills slide. I also read that you can order abortion pills online, so we franctically scraped together the money to order from a site overseas. We were both nervous and stressed trying to figure out if the pills would arrive in time or if they would even work. After ordering them, we found out I could be sent to jail and charged with murder if the abortion went wrong at home and I ended up in the ER. So we had to schedule an appointment at a clinic. I again had to get a medical abortion. Things went well, and my partner sat with and comforted me. After I received word from the clinic that I was no longer pregnant, I was asked if I wanted birth control. I decided I needed to schedule an appointment to choose which option would work best for me. With the help of doctors, I opted for an IUD after I found out my new insurance would pay for it. I’ve been proudly using it since. My partner and I still want kids in the future — when it's the right time for us.

I want to emphasize that I used to be ashamed that I’ve had three abortions. Most of the time, you only hear about people having one. Having one is stigmatized enough — but three? Society has ingrained in us that more than one is shameful or that someone is a careless or bad person for having more than one. I am not a careless person. I am not a bad person. I simply wasn’t fully prepared with the information I needed to make the best choices for myself. I also didn’t have access to things like health insurance to get a prescription for a better method to prevent pregnancy.

We need to keep advocating for things like comprehensive sex education or universal health care if we want people to make the best decisions for themselves. Because of my three abortions, I openly and frequently speak out. No one should feel ashamed for needing more than one — or any. Because of my three abortions, I have become active in this community with no plans to quit until we can have reproductive freedom for all.

I simply did what I had to do to make sure I would have a dignified and safe future. I am sober now and still with my partner. Marriage and children will come with time. I am glad I went through all three abortions.

Mica is located in the North Liberty area, hosts a podcast called Repros for Iowa, and works closely with the Democratic Socialists of America. They live with their three cats and a bearded dragon. They decided to get into activism because of the Texas abortion ban, and serve as a member of the 2022 National Storytellers of Planned Parenthood.

Tags: Abortion, abortion access, abortion storytellers, Reproductive Rights