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People make deeply personal decisions about pregnancy, and the decision to have an abortion is never made frivolously. It is after much thought, consideration and a comprehensive consultation with a licensed physician at Planned Parenthood of Delaware.

The conversation around abortion has always been a sensitive one. That sensitivity can sometime spread the feeling of shame and stigma. But the more we share our abortion stories, the more we can help break down #abortionstigma.

Here, three brave people share their abortion stories.

Mary's story

I was a college sophomore in an abusive relationship when I became pregnant. I was raised in a Catholic family, I feared judgment from my loved ones, and I knew I wasn’t ready to be a parent. After talking to a trusted friend, I went to a woman who used a coat hanger to terminate my pregnancy. I met her at her home, where she offered me liquor to soothe my nerves. I declined, and the procedure began. I shut down, going numb emotionally, physically, and mentally in an attempt to block out the pain. I didn’t feel anything because I wouldn’t let myself. Unfortunately, the coat hanger procedure didn’t work.

After my first attempt, I sought out more illegal abortions, including one where I narrowly avoided being sexually assaulted. At one point, two police officers heard that my boyfriend was asking where I could get an abortion. Shortly after his inquiry the officers called me to ask if I was trying to end a pregnancy. I told them I was not. They requested I contact them if I heard from someone who performed abortions.

The boyfriend then found a dentist who did abortions. When I saw the dentist, however, he said I was too far along and would not do the procedure. Eventually, when I was about six weeks into the pregnancy, we found someone who would do the illegal abortion. We drove three hours to a prearranged spot in a large Midwestern city to meet our contact. Once there, we were blindfolded, put in the back seat of a car, and driven to what seemed to be a doctor’s office, though I never knew for sure.

The people who treated me there were kind and gentle and numbed my vaginal area before performing an aspiration abortion. I left, hoping my pregnancy had been terminated. Thankfully, the procedure worked this time. A few weeks later, my parents approached me. They had heard I was pregnant and wanted to know if the rumor was true. I was relieved to honestly tell them I was not pregnant. Several months later, I was working on a college paper when I began to bleed heavily. After being examined by a campus health center doctor I was told I needed an emergency dilation and curettage procedure. I received the surgery and, at a follow-up visit, was given birth control pills.

The pregnancy nightmare was over, but my struggles were not. Fearing judgment from friends and family if they knew I had had an abortion, I became depressed and suicidal. A Catholic priest helped me to understand I was not a bad person, and I had a bright future ahead of me. If it wasn’t for this priest, I don’t know if I would be here today.

It took decades of therapy to heal from the abusive relationship and the attempted abortions. For years, I told just a handful of close friends about my experience. In the mid-90s, I made a breakthrough when I was discussing my abortion with a counselor. She urged me to bring my experience out of the darkness to help heal. When I arrived home shortly after the session, I started feeling shooting pains in my abdominal area. I broke out into a cold sweat, my arms grew numb, and I began to hyperventilate. I focused on taking deep breaths and praying for the pain to end. I soon realized what I was experiencing was a manifestation of the pain I had blocked out for so many, many years. I was finally physically “feeling” the attempted abortions. Three decades of anguish were being released. The pain passed and my doctor found nothing wrong with me when I went for a routine check-up.

I am in a good place today, although at times the unsettling memories come rushing back. Most recently, the 2018 confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and similar rape allegations triggered me. My long journey to healing has been challenging and difficult. Thanks to years of therapy, good friends, and a loving husband I am now able to recognize that in spite of my trauma, I was fortunate — the women who were not able to access abortion care or didn’t survive illegal procedures were the unlucky ones.

Everyone has wounds. These are mine. I don’t know if I’d be who I am today if I hadn’t gone through this painful time and embarked on a journey to heal my body, mind, and soul. It took courage and inner strength to overcome my trauma and reach a higher level of self-understanding and acceptance. I don’t regret having an abortion. I know I would not have been able to give a child a happy and stable life, and I made the right decision for me.

I am sharing my story now, more than half a century later, because I weep for those who may soon lose access to legal, safe abortion care — a right many younger women have taken for granted. With the Supreme Court set to weaken or even undo Roe, I fear millions of people living in Republican-controlled states will suddenly be stripped of their bodily autonomy and health care rights.

Those that have money and the ability to travel will go to a state where abortion is legal. However, individuals of lower socio-economic status will be forced to seek illegal, sometimes dangerous, abortions that could kill them, while many women will have to carry and eventually give birth to a baby they may not want or be able to care for, which will negatively impact both the mother and the child.

Abortion is a fact of life: There are documented examples going back thousands of years, and almost one in four American women will have an abortion at some point in their life. Yet stigma still surrounds abortion, leading to a culture of blame and shame. We must cease the shaming of woman who choose to end a pregnancy, and we must stop the dismantling of Roe v. Wade — now!

People who have abortions are not irresponsible baby-killers; they are individuals who recognize their limitations, seek to have control over their own bodies and destinies, and choose not to bring another unwanted child into the world. They do not make the decision to have an abortion lightly. They need kind, loving support and care for whatever reason they choose to terminate a pregnancy. They are our friends and neighbors, our mothers and grandmothers, our daughters and sisters.

I share my story in hopes no one else will have to go through what I went through more than 50 years ago.

Cathi's story

I had an abortion when I was 26. Only a handful of people know this. The stigma around abortion is so great that women are ashamed to get them, or to admit that they’ve had one. I got pregnant after a one-night stand, I’m afraid to say. I was just coming off of a bad breakup after an even worse long-term relationship. I was a single mom with an 8-year-old daughter, and I had nothing but the clothes on our backs. We had to share my brother’s recliner to sleep at night. When we didn’t have a place to stay I would have to send her to her grandmother’s, so a baby was totally out of the question.

The father was not interested and I went alone to the clinic. It took me two tries to have that abortion because I was always taught that it was morally wrong. I had no choice but to do it. The people at the clinic were very kind and actually sent me home to think about it some more. So I did.

I waited a week, and the situation with the father didn’t change. I went back and had the abortion. If that opportunity wasn’t there for me, I don’t know what I would have done. The comfort and wisdom of the clinicians helped me through the surgical abortion. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but thanks to Roe v. Wade I was able to have a safe abortion and live to take care of my daughter.

Karen's story

It has been almost 40 years since I had my abortion. I was truly fortunate that the Supreme Court had already decided Roe v. Wade a decade earlier and I had an additional safe option to choose from.

Even so, it was still a life event full of competing emotions: from fear to wonder, from being on the cusp of independence to becoming vulnerable and dependent on others for both myself and a baby.

I still remember the feeling of sheer dread as I waited those few minutes with the nurse for confirmation of a pregnancy or not. And then the careful discussion of options with the doctor and the referrals she gave for whichever path I chose, all while still in a state of shock.

And two weeks later I remember the kind and caring doctor, nurse, and support staff on the morning of my abortion. They showed compassion and brought a sense of normality to the procedure. They were there for me, talking to me, sharing with me, and helping me throughout it in whatever manner I needed at the time.

To this day, they all remain in my thoughts, especially when I see how they and others must traverse their work and personal life against a backdrop spattered with vulgar protests, threats, and acts of vandalism and terrorism just for being there to care for others.

They were there with me all those years ago and today I stand with them and say Thank You and God Bless You.

We provide the highest quality care, offering a range of options (the pill and in-clinic procedure) in a supportive, understanding, comfortable and nonjudgmental environment. You can feel confident that we know and follow all rules and regulations, keeping you safely within your rights.

We fully support a person's right to choose, and we respect everyone we care for – without judgment. Thank you for allowing Planned Parenthood of Delaware to fulfill your health care needs, including the right to have a safe and legal abortion.

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