Living through Abortion’s Stigma

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Living Through Abortion’s Stigma

Panel 1

[Image] A woman with long curly hair, hugging herself, and looking like she is about to cry. On either side of her is a silhouette – one of a woman with a bun in her hair, and her arms extended, and the other of a balding man with hands on his hips.

[Caption] I got pregnant at 15. My parents were upset and disappointed.

Panel 2

[Image] The woman, eyes wide, hugging the woman with the bun in her hair – her mother.

[Caption] My mom then told me a secret: She had an abortion at 19.

Panel 3

[Image] The mother and daughter hugging, seen from shoulders up. The image is layered on itself, making the image look more emotional.

[Caption] I never knew. She swore me to secrecy.

Panel 4

[Image] A series of silhouettes – mostly male – holding signboards and picket-signs. Two of the signs read “Murder” and “Don’t Kill”.

[Caption] We lived in a small, rural area. Picketers were always outside the clinic.

Panel 5

[Caption] My mom told me to NEVER tell anyone, that people would judge me harshly, that they could get physically violent.

Panel 6

[Image] A figure covered in a hoodie – hood up – arms out, walking past silhouettes of people holding picketing signs.

[Caption] My mom dressed me so I wouldn’t be recognized. The whole experience was humiliating.

Panel 7

[Caption] 15 years later, my second abortion was because of rape. I told no one.

Panel 8

[Image] The curly-haired woman standing with three other people – two other women and one man – around a water cooler. The curly-haired woman looks nervous.

[Caption] But around the same time, my office was abuzz with gossip: someone else at the office was getting an abortion.

Panel 9

[Image] Closeups of the three co-workers. The first is an older woman with white hair in a bun. The second is a middle-aged balding man with glasses. The third is a dark-haired, middle aged woman.

Older woman: She’s such a slut
Man: She wants to kill her baby! No sense of morality.
Dark-haired woman: Why can’t she own up to her mistake? She should be forced to keep her baby as a lesson.

Panel 10

[Caption] I was horrified. I was so ingrained with shame that I did the procedure alone, drove myself home afterwards, and no one came to check on me because I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. I still have a block on my tongue about speaking with anyone about this part of myself. But I am happy with my decision.

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I have had 2 abortions now. Almost 15 years apart to the day.

My first was when I was 15, I had a libido and a boyfriend. When we learned that I was pregnant he begged me not to tell his family, but I still had to tell mine. My parents were upset and disappointed, but my mother wanted me to abort, my father took a back seat. My mother told me about how she had had an abortion when she was 19 because she had been partying hard and didn’t want to risk the complications. I never knew before and she swore me to secrecy (she has passed now) We lived in a rural area where there were picketers outside the clinic. She dressed me in a way that no one would recognize me. The doctors and counsellors were cold and distant, the procedure painful and humiliating. When my mother took me home to recover, I was relegated to my room and had no visitors – not even my mother. She told me to NEVER tell anyone, that they would judge me harshly and that it might even come to violence upon my person.

By strange coincidence a close friend of mine at school ended up pregnant with in the same month that I did, though she decided to keep the child. I have had the surreal view of her life in contrast to my own. I have seen her struggles and difficulties, as well as her triumphs. I respect her decision and love her and her child but am so grateful that my life did not take a similar path. It still hurts my heart though when I look at her child’s face and think that my own child would have been the same age. It quickly changes though when I see the quality of the life that this child has had, being raised by a child themselves, and I am glad with my decision.

My second abortion was 15 years later after I broke up with my ex, I went on a date that ended in forced sex. I know my mind and that I would resent such a child specifically as I was never able to press charges because he gave me false information. At this clinic in Seattle I met compassionate doctors and counsellors. The procedure was easier, though I was so ingrained with the shame that I did it alone, drove myself home afterwards and no one came to check on me because I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. Less than 2 weeks before my procedure the office I worked in was abuzz with gossip about how a woman in another branch was pregnant and didn’t know who the father was and was getting an abortion; how much of a slut she was, how immoral and a baby killer; why didn’t she own up to it and keep the baby as a lesson. I was horrified that such things were said by people around me, including other women.

Now here I am, I finally found a doctor to prescribe me an IUD as even after being married, divorced, raped and 2 abortions I still cannot find a doctor that will sterilize me. I know I would be a terrible parent. I still have a block on my tongue about speaking with anyone regarding this part of myself. Thankfully my fingers are under no such censorship. If nothing else I hope that people take away from my history that I am happy with my decisions. I know in my heart and soul that I did the right thing for myself and for others.

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3 responses to “Living through Abortion’s Stigma”

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  1. Laura says: |
    March 17, 2015 at 5:12 am

    “keep the baby as a lesson”

    What a horrible thing to do to the baby, to have it know that it was never wanted.

  2. WolverineMom says: |
    May 25, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I thought I was temporarily unable to have a baby because I’d been on the shot for more than a year. The conception was Valentine’s Day. I never slept with my former fiancé again. I woke up in the middle of the night to find the Laura Croft look-a-like that had been living with us wearing his boxers and playing Magic the Gathering with him. I kicked him out upon suspicion of them fooling around. I moved in with my parents and started dating this nice guy. Started feeling nauseous when I’d eat my scrambled eggs. My only sign. I decided I’d abort if I was. Went to the clinic first off and when the dude came back with the verdict I just couldn’t stick to my guns. I went out to a pay phone and called my Mom and for seven months I thought I’d be a Mom. The guy I dated started mentioning adoption. I’m no saint, I’ve got mental problems. I’ve got those friends you mentioned with the kids they raised as kids. One night I came home and told my Mom I was thinking of putting my baby up for adoption and she told me someone at church had asked her if I was thinking of it. I was a little freaked out by that. I told her I’d pray about it and know my answer on the morning. I did. I knew the people in fact. I’d ridden on the back of their motorcycle before. Well, their daughter was who wanted my baby. I met their family two weeks later, they came up from FL. I was charmed by them. They had two daughters already and I thought that was awesome because children need siblings to grow. The father had been in a motorcycle accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. But he existed and had an awesome personality. The two girls were sweethearts. They wanted a little brother or sister. I decided this was a go. My mother had ran girls camp and knew the older of the two girls and she was fond of her. She said that she reminded her of me, only without my mental illnesses. The younger of the two was adopted. I felt this was good. My child would have comradory.
    I went to FL to have him. I spent a month getting to know the adoptive mother so she could tell him about me if he inquired. I told her I have borderline personality disorder and that I’m bipolar type 2. That the father had emotional problems as well. That the child would need medication and most likely therapy even with wonderful upbringing. The birth was at a Christian hospital that didn’t approve of adoptions and the doctor let the epadoral ware out while refusing an upeseatamy, I tore from edge to edge and I still remember the pain of it. Afterward the nurse kept trying to give him to me for me to breast feed. I had postpartum depression that caused me to do such things like jump from moving vehicles. I ruined that nice relationship I had with the guy that didn’t mind that I was pregnant with some other guy’s baby.
    He’s almost 18 now. My son. They moved to my state when he was around twelve because his dad’s work required relocation. It tears me apart that I am not his Mom. I wonder what it would have been like to have just aborted. I would have been a horrible mother. But seeing him kills me. It KILLS ME. I read pro-life bumper stickers and cry. Those people know nothing of what it’s like to see your flesh and blood be someone else’s. When he sees me and calls me Mom, it rips me up inside. Nothing about it feels good. It’s not warm and fuzzy. I don’t feel as though I saved him. I feel as though I am a failure. I have to say, if I could go back, I would’ve let him come down in someone else’s womb. Because that is what I think happens when someone has an abortion. The baby gets another chance to come down some other way.
    You did what you needed to do for you. You saw how your friend raised her kid. Hell, you may have done better. But children shouldn’t be a project that people wing. Keep trying, I’ve been able to get an hysterectomy. Mostly out of shame. I don’t believe I deserved a child after I gave my first born away.
    He’s doing wonderfully and thinks I’m awesome. Somehow it just makes it hurt more.

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