Everyone knows going through an abortion is a difficult experience to have, and the majority of women never want to find themselves facing the decision of whether to have one or not.
But of course no one can really know what it’s like to have an abortion unless you’ve actually had one.
One woman who was forced to have an abortion because of a problem with her spine recently asked women to share their abortion stories in a discussion on Reddit, and she was inundated with moving, insightful and heartbreaking tales.
A woman in her late 20s shared how she'd had an abortion at 17 because she’d had very little sex education and her “super Christian” mother wouldn’t allow her to use contraception.
The third or fourth time she and her boyfriend had had sex (in secret), “the condom came off inside” her.
Unable to get the morning-after pill without her parents' permission, she was forced to tell her mother who subsequently beat her, made her transfer schools and wouldn’t let her take the pill.
Needless to say, the woman found out she was pregnant and tried all sorts of things in the hope of inducing a miscarriage, from smoking cigarettes to drinking pennyroyal tea and “shoving parsley inside [her] as a pessary.”
She was scared, and even considered using a coat-hanger and a knitting needle. “I never even gave a thought to whether I wanted to abort or have the baby - I was in panic mode and just wanted the entire situation to disappear,” she explains.
The story becomes even more interesting when we learn the woman’s mother was a teenager when she had her, and - heartbreakingly - “often said that she regretted having me.”
Eventually, the mother forced her to spend all her savings and have an abortion, but wouldn’t allow her to use painkillers. “It really hurt,” she writes, but reveals she was glad it was over.
That was until her mother proceeded to tell everyone they knew about the abortion, meaning the woman became “persona non grata”. After finishing high school, the woman moved away and hasn’t spoken to her family since.
She’s never regretted the abortion though. But she adds: “I do regret that I got pregnant at all. I wanted hormonal contraceptives, and I wanted Plan B. Had I access to those things, I would not have needed an abortion in the first place.”
“Nobody WANTS to end up having an abortion. It's humiliating and painful. But everyone - even (or especially) teenagers - should be able to get one if they need it.”
The woman’s emotional story unsurprisingly received equally emotional responses, with many people aghast at how she was treated by her mother.
The discussion includes tragic stories of pregnancies resulting from rape as well as women who’d never felt any negative emotions about their abortions.
One person’s story began when she’d been in an “abusive, controlling, tumultuous relationship” with a “dead-beat dime-bag weed dealer who was going nowhere in life fast” for over two years.
She became pregnant, and as a freshman in college, knew she “wanted to get it out of her body.”
Unfortunately, her boyfriend didn’t feel the same way: “He disagreed with me and fought me tooth and nail, saying nasty s*** - he told me nearly constantly that it wasn't even his, that I was a sl**/wh*re/b****.”
He did, however, accompany her to the clinic, which the woman reveals wasn’t too traumatic: “Everyone was so nice and informative. I let four pills sit in my cheeks until they dissolved and then I went on my merry way.”
It was only afterwards that she started “puking and cramping really awful,” during which time her boyfriend went off to smoke marijuana with his friends.
One messy break-up later, the woman is glad she had her abortion: “I am so eternally grateful that I don't have that dude's five-year-old right now,” she says.
She wasn’t the only one who was glad not to have had the child of an abusive ex: “Having my abortion was probably the best thing that's happened to me,” one woman explained.
“It allowed me to assert that this was my life, and I would be making the decisions for myself and my future. The staff at the clinic were incredibly supportive and kind, and showing myself that I was in control of my life and I had a plan for myself really helped me leave the abuser.”
She described the experience as “the most important and meaningful” of her adult life: “I made a stand for myself and it was incredibly empowering and relieving to know that when s*** hit the fan I could still act in my own best interest.”
One of the most common threads in the stories was that staff in nearly all the clinics had been supportive, kind and caring, which helped a lot.
Whilst most women’s stories came from unhealthy relationships, one mother explained how she’d had an abortion despite being in a happy family with two children already and a loving husband.
Her IUD had fallen out, but the couple decided to terminate the pregnancy because they felt they would be worse parents to their existing children if they had another.
“I always thought that most women who had abortions were women that didn't take responsibility for their bodies or were trapped in a horrible situation including abuse or poverty but I was wrong,” she says.
“There are so, so many different situations and reasons for seeking the termination of a pregnancy. Even people from a loving, stable home can choose to abort a pregnancy and it's ok. It's ok because it's their choice and no one can never really know what someone else is going through. They are the ones that have to live with the decision, not you.”
The woman also shared how she had mourned the loss of her baby even though aborting it was her decision, and she encouraged others to feel OK about mourning their aborted babies: “You still went through a loss no matter what, and you are a caring, loving person.”
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