asked members of the BuzzFeed
Community to tell us about their abortions.
We received more than 2,000 submissions from all over the world
— ranging from countries
where abortion is illegal to those where it’s fully covered
by national health insurance. We heard from women who believe
abortion was the right decision for them as well as those who
Here is a selection of stories that represent the broad range
of experiences readers shared with us.
bans abortion except for pregnancies resulting from rape
and incest, to save a woman’s life, and in cases of fetal
I was 16 and had just lost my virginity. I was taking birth
control pills and I trusted them 100%, so we didn’t use
condoms. I didn’t tell anyone when I found out: My parents
would be angry and my boyfriend would choose to continue with
I got Cytotec from a group of girls I met on Facebook and took
it as instructed. I didn’t feel any effect at first and I
thought it had not worked. At night, I woke up feeling wet, ran
to the bathroom, and there was a lot of blood. I took a shower,
but the bleeding wouldn’t stop. I got a sanitary pad and called
my mother, running to the hospital without notifying my father
The gynecologist asked if I knew I was pregnant and I had to
deny it, because nobody could know. I was mistreated by the
nurses who treated my hemorrhage, and they kept talking
indirectly about how more and more, the young women were
I still don’t feel clean, even now. It was an enormous trauma
that stills haunts my nightmares. I don’t regret doing it. I
couldn’t (and even today I can’t) take care of a child. After a
few months, my boyfriend broke up with me. He never knew what
happened — neither he nor anyone else.
—Victoria, 18, Brazil
2. “My fiancé and I both walked out from the clinic wanting to
send all of them flowers for being such amazing human beings.”
My fiancé and I knew children were in our future, but at the
time we were both in graduate school, in a small student
housing apartment, living in a country far away from our
families and stable social networks, with no savings and living
on student loans. It became clear fairly quickly that having a
child right now was not ideal.
I chose to have a medical abortion in the hospital rather that
at home, as I was a little worried about being in pain. I’m not
going to lie, it was quite painful and I got shivers and felt
shitty in general. Luckily I had a supportive fiancé and an
amazing midwife to help. She brought me heating pads whenever I
needed and came by every half hour or hour to check up on me.
Words can’t do justice to how amazing every single person who
helped me during this procedure was to me and my fiancé. Zero
judgment, zero blame, zero resentment — nothing of that sort.
Only lots and lots of support, kindness, care, and human love.
My fiancé and I both walked out from the clinic wanting to send
all of them flowers for being such amazing human beings.
—Madelaine, 24, Sweden
3. “I read as many stories online as I could, from women who
had kept their babies and those who had chosen abortions.”
I was 26 and in grad school doing my PhD. It was unplanned and
the result of a two-week holiday fling where the one time we
recklessly didn’t use a condom, I fell pregnant.
I am not religious and am pro-choice, but the decision was far
from easy. My holiday fling and I were “in love” and we spoke
at length about keeping the baby even though we lived on
opposite sides of the world and had only ever been in each
other’s physical presence for two weeks. He also said he would
support my decision whatever I decided. I was extremely
fortunate to be surrounded by such supportive friends and
family. However, none of them had ever had to make the same
decision, so I read as many stories online as I could, from
women who had kept their babies and those who had chosen
several states in Australia, it is only legal to have an
abortion if a pregnancy would threaten the physical and/or
mental health of the mother. Anecdotal evidence suggests that
you can get through this loophole by going to a compassionate
doctor and indicating that a pregnancy would impact on your
mental health. As I have a long recorded history of major
clinical depression, my doctor agreed that I met the mental
health requirements for a legal abortion.
There is a never a day that goes by that I don’t think about my
decision. But I do not regret it. My long-distance love and I
stayed together for nearly a year afterwards, crisscrossing the
globe to visit each other. Sadly it couldn’t last.
I often think, “What if I had the baby?” I am 35 and single.
Perhaps that was my one chance to have a child. If that were
the case, it is not what I had in mind for my life, but so be
it. I make the most of my child-free existence. The time I
would have spent raising a child I spend volunteering. Being
better at my job. Seeing the world. Having furniture with sharp
My legacy in this world does not have to be biological.
—Rose, 35, Australia
4. “It’s been about a week, and I’m doing horribly.”
I’m 17 and obviously not able to take care of a baby, nor do I
ever want one, so I had an abortion at six and a half weeks. I
was awake during the procedure but heavily drugged. It was
still the most awful pain I have ever felt.
Other than the actual procedure, my experience at the clinic
was quite lovely. The nurses were very caring and kind and the
staff was overall very understanding. The clinic itself was
well hidden, so there weren’t any protesters to get through and
I’m thankful for that.
It’s been about a week since I had it done, and I’m doing
horribly. My mood has crashed. I can’t sleep, because when I
sleep I have nightmares about it.
At least I’m no longer throwing up from morning sickness. Oh,
and my boobs are going back to a normal size.
—Anonymous, 17, Canada
I experienced my first pregnancy when I was 23. I forgot two
birth control pills in the same month. I’d only known my
boyfriend a few months and I had just gotten a new job. I
couldn’t have a kid at the time, and I didn’t want to.
Because I was afraid of surgical abortion, my doctor said I
could do the medical one, at home. She was absolutely awesome —
a great listener and she never judged me. I took the pills and
went home. My boyfriend stayed with me the whole time (two
days). I feel lucky because my doctor, my boyfriend, and my
friends had my back. I didn’t suffer that much, and I didn’t
bleed that much either.
I saw my doctor again 10 days after, and it was over. She told
me I could come and talk to her anytime about that if I needed
to, but I don’t regret my decision and never feel bad or
depressed about it. Now I have a beautiful child with the same
boyfriend, and this time we wanted him very much.
—Myna, 30, France
6. “I was coerced into it by my partner and family.”
I had an abortion against my will. I was vulnerable and coerced
into it by my partner and family. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had
It was even more traumatic because it wasn’t even successful.
The tablets didn’t work. I clotted and bled like I should, but
tests showed I was still pregnant. After another scan it was
determined I would now have to be put under general anesthetic
to “finish the job.”
The emotional trauma for the entire experience has messed with
my head. I’m not the same person I was.
7. “It was safe and clean, and I’m lucky that in my country you
don’t get shamed in a big way.”
He was studying to be a doctor. I was still trying to figure
out what to do in life. We both came from religious families,
but he seemed sure of wanting an abortion, and I didn’t feel
ready, or feel the need to ruin his life. But we kept it a
secret from our families because I didn’t want to hurt them and
I didn’t want them to talk me out of it.
It was safe and clean, and I’m lucky that in my country you
don’t get shamed in a big way if you choose to not go ahead
with the pregnancy. Later I found out that he already had a
child. That was so hard to take in. That somebody else did get
to have his child, that I took mine away for nothing. But the
worst thing is that he didn’t look after the child that was
alive and his own flesh and blood. We still stayed together for
a few years but it was more out of guilt toward the child I
chose to not have. It took me a long time to heal emotionally
and before I could open up about it to my family.
I think I made the right decision for me and the baby, but I
lost a piece of me that day. The next time I’m pregnant, I want
to celebrate and embrace it. But as awful as the experience
felt emotionally, especially during and after, I am happy that
I could go safely to a doctor, that I didn’t had to worry about
having enough money, and at that point my ex was there to hold
I’m happy I had a choice. I still had to live with my choice,
but at least I had a choice.
—Anonymous, 28, Belgium
8. “I wondered for a while if I should feel bad that I didn’t
I had a surgical abortion when I was 23 in New Zealand. My
boyfriend and I had been together about a year and were living
there for a year’s working holiday. I was on the Pill when I
fell pregnant. It was an easy decision. He said he’d support me
if I wanted to keep it but that he really didn’t want a baby
and wasn’t ready. I felt the same way.
As foreigners in New Zealand we had to pay $2,000 for the
procedure, which we didn’t have. I told my dad over Facebook
Messenger. I was too embarrassed to tell him on the phone. My
parents said that whatever I chose, they supported me and how
could they help. My boyfriend never told his parents. They
still have no idea.
NZ law meant that I had to go for two consultations, so that
the medical practitioners could decide if I was “doing it for
the right reasons.” As far as my nurse was concerned,
absolutely not wanting a child was a good enough reason.
I was booked in for my abortion just before I was three months
along. I think girls who were at a later stage got priority,
which makes sense but also meant I had to tell my boss why I
was being sick all the time and was super tired and forgetful.
That was a fairly uncomfortable conversation.
My abortion was scheduled for January. We were having Christmas
lunch with people we didn’t know very well. The host announced
that she was pregnant, and everyone was thrilled. She spoke
about her morning sickness, her fatigue. My boyfriend and I
made eye contact, and it was really weird because there she
was, so excited, and I was having the same experience, feeling
the same physical ailments, but then not the same experience at
all. That was a crappy day.
The day of the abortion, we went to the clinic together. I
wasn’t sure how I’d feel when I woke up. I expected a sense of
loss, or sadness, or guilt. I expected to feel ashamed, or
damaged. Or that I’d feel, at the very least, like I was
carrying a dark secret around with me for the rest of my life.
I felt none of these things. The number one, most overwhelming
feeling that I felt was relief. A massive weight was lifted off
my shoulders. I wondered for a while if I should feel bad that
I didn’t feel bad. If what I was feeling was “right.”
We’ve been together for seven years, and we own our own
businesses and recently bought a house together. Truthfully, we
don’t discuss it often, because it wasn’t a big deal to us. The
hardest part was waiting for it to be over. We both want kids
Neither of us has regretted our decision for a second — it was
100% the right one. I don’t remember the date it happened, and
I don’t have one sad day a year where I yearn for what could
have been. I’m also extremely grateful that I had my parents’
support and a loving partner to help me through it, and am
aware of how incredibly lucky I am.
I don’t see it as something that I went through, I see at as
something we both experienced together. Before I talk to
someone about it, I make sure he’s okay with it, and he does
the same for me. It was our decision, and I respect his
experience as he does mine.
—Anonymous, from Australia, had an abortion in New Zealand
Mexico’s laws on abortion vary by state, but it
is only legal on request in Mexico City.
When my baby was a year old, I got pregnant again. I was about
to enter college and I knew it was going to be an impediment to
my dreams. My husband and I researched online and found
information about misoprostol abortion. I was already eight
weeks pregnant, so we had to act fast. We stole a prescription
from a private doctor and that’s how we bought it.
We were pretty nervous, so I decided to take a few shots of
tequila and before going to bed I inserted four pills. I fell
asleep thinking that it was not going to work, but around 4
a.m. I began to feel horrible pains, like cramps. I went to the
bathroom and expelled several blood clots, my whole body was
shaking and I felt chills. After 5 a.m. I finally expelled the
fetus. Really seeing it gave me a terrible sadness.
I continued bleeding for almost 50 days and did not seek a
medical appointment, for fear they knew I had committed a
crime. Now, two years later, it is something I have overcome; I
really began to be responsible in my sexuality and my
reproductive health. I’m still with my husband and my son, and
I’m in the middle of my career. It was not an easy decision but
the most convenient one.
—Anonymous, 20, Mexico
10. “I lay there, bleeding in my friend’s spare room, praying
that I didn’t die. I will never forgive my country for that.”
bans abortion except to save a pregnant woman’s life.
Thousands of women travel to the UK each year to have the
use pills procured online.
I was working as a waitress, and my partner was in a job that
meant he was gone five days out of the week. I didn’t have my
own house. There was no way I could have supported a baby, nor
did I want one.
When I told my family I couldn’t go through with it they turned
their back on me, so I ended up having to move into a friend’s
spare room. Abortion is illegal in Ireland and I couldn’t
afford to travel to England, so I got pills from Womenhelp.org.
It was such a horrible wait wondering whether they would get
sent to my friend’s address or to an address I had to give in
When I took the pills I bled so heavily the second day that I
thought I was dying. I couldn’t go to the hospital because they
could arrest me if I told them what I had done. So I lay there,
bleeding in my friend’s spare room, praying that I didn’t die.
I will never forgive my country for that.
11. “The doctor could have had me arrested for being pregnant
Arab Emirates bans abortion except to save a woman’s life
certain cases of severe fetal abnormality.
I had just gotten an amazing opportunity to study abroad for a
year in Abu Dhabi while working on my PhD. In the months prior
to my departure, I started hooking up with this guy under the
pretense that it would end when I left. Needless to say. at
some point we got careless.
A few months after leaving, I noticed that I had missed a
couple of periods but chalked it up to being under a lot of
stress and being in a new place. I continued to run two to
three miles every day, didn’t visibly gain any weight, and
never got sick.
I finally took three pregnancy tests. Each one was positive,
but I still wasn’t convinced until I saw a doctor and she told
me I had two choices: leave for good or go home and come back
with a marriage license. She honestly did me a huge favor,
since she could have turned me in and had me arrested for being
pregnant and unwed, a huge no-no here.
I had actually been on the fence about my decision before going
to see her, but what she said was all I needed to hear. I had
worked too hard and too long to give up this once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity. The guy actually helped me do the research and we
made the decision to go to Houston, Texas, for the procedure.
He was super supportive through the entire ordeal, never
pressuring me one way or the other.
It was a three-day process that required an initial exam to
check the heartbeat and measurements and a return on the third
day for the actual procedure. I was only a few days shy from
being ineligible because I was nearly into my second trimester
by the time I realized or accepted that I might be pregnant.
Before going in, I had been on the fence about whether I even
wanted kids. But when I saw the ultrasound and the fetus
moving, it solidified that I do in fact want children — but
under the right circumstances, and with someone I love so that
we can share that moment of seeing such a beautiful thing we
created together, intentionally.
I felt guilty for a while, and at some points, I hated myself
for making the decision. But through the help of counseling, my
amazing mother, and a couple of other super-supportive people,
I was able to heal and move on. I don’t regret my decision at
all because it’s a part of my story and has shaped me into the
woman I am. But if I had the chance to do it all over, I
wouldn’t make the same choices that led to me having to make
At 25, I was more than capable of raising a child, but there
was and still is so much more of my life that I want to live,
so that I can give my all to my children.
—Amy, 26, from the US, found out she was pregnant in the United
12. “I find it hard to forgive myself…but it felt like the
right decision at the time.”
I was 21, in a relationship with my first boyfriend, and we
were both very inexperienced. We were both in college, but I
had just started working for an excellent company, was horribly
paid (close to $100 per month), and was living at my aunt’s
house because I’d been orphaned and was struggling to finish
college. All of this contributed to my decision within five
minutes that I could not be a mother and interrupt my goals —
plus that relationship was not going anywhere soon.
I had it surgically done in a private hospital, paid for it
with money I had saved, and since my boyfriend was not working,
he contributed 20% (a loan he got from someone). The procedure
was successful (I went with my best friend), and I felt normal
afterwards (he felt awful and cried). It’s been eight years
now, I have a career, pay for all my bills, and just had a baby
three months ago (after HUGE pressure from the father to
interrupt the pregnancy).
When I look at my child, I think of the other life I
interrupted and feel horrible, and I find it hard to forgive
myself — but it felt like the right decision at the time, given
my social, financial, and psychological status. I wish it could
be different. I wish I had talked to my family so I wouldn’t
have had to go through that on my own (or go through it at
December 2015 was the hardest month of my life. A standard
screening showed my baby had T21.
Amnio confirmed the diagnosis.
My husband and I made the excruciating decision to end our very
wanted pregnancy. Many factors played into this decision,
including our first son’s future, unknown health complications
of the baby, and the future of our family.
Because I was just over 20 weeks at the time of the termination
in Canada, I was induced and delivered our second son, who was
born still at the hospital. It was the worst experience of my
I am, however, very grateful to live in Canada, where I was
able to make the choice that was right for my family without
any politicians standing in the way and making this already
heartbreaking experience any worse. Since then I have heard
from women who also ended wanted pregnancies who were forced to
travel far away and jump through ridiculous hoops, and I fear
it is just going to get worse.
It should be no one’s decision other than a woman, her family,
and her health care provider to end a pregnancy or not,
regardless of the reasons. No one makes this decision lightly,
and no one has the right to make it any harder.
—Anonymous, 34, Canada
14. “I live in a country where getting an abortion is supposed
to be a fairly easy process — that was not my experience.”
I had an abortion at 19, and it was the most difficult
experience of my life. Not because I regret it or think that
any other option would’ve been better, but because of how
exhausting the whole process was.
I live in Finland, where getting an abortion is supposed to be
a fairly easy process — that was not my experience. First of
all, the pregnancy caused me to be very, very ill. I was
vomiting all the time and had to be hospitalized. Because I was
being directed to all these different places to get
confirmation and permission to have the abortion (and I had to
get a taxi everywhere because I was so sick), I only managed to
have the abortion at week 11. It was traumatizing. I insisted
on having the dilation and curettage, but they convinced me the
pills would be a better way for me.
Because I was so far along, I had to go to the hospital so they
could supervise me. It was the last day the abortion would be
legal. If it didn’t work out, I would have to go through the
same process again to gain extra permission.
The pills didn’t work. Nothing came out. I was panicking. I
ended up having the dilation and curettage after all, which
went fine, but I got no help or support whatsoever afterwards.
Even though I never wanted children, I felt inadequate and
regretful, I suppose because of the hormones, and really wanted
to talk to someone but I had no one.
After my experience I’ve become very vocal and passionate about
abortion rights and birth control — especially birth control.
If you can in any way prevent having to get an abortion, trust
me, it is so much easier and less painful. But if you ever find
yourself in a situation where you have to terminate a
pregnancy, for any reason, it should be accessible and safe.
—Anonymous, 22, Finland
15. “The doctor assumed I may have illegally uncovered the
gender through an ultrasound and was looking to abort because
the fetus was female.”
I was fortunate to have access to one of India’s top doctors at
a swanky private hospital that caters to wealthy Indians in a
suburb of New Delhi. Because I already had two daughters and
the fetus was several weeks old, the doctor assumed I may have
illegally uncovered its gender through an ultrasound and was
looking to abort because it was female (in which case she would
not have performed the procedure).
Though I was at first horrified and offended, I realized her
assumption reflected the sad reality of sex-selective abortions
in the area, mostly chosen by/for women who have the means to
repeat the procedure multiple times if needed. There’s been
some improvement in recent years, but parts of India have so
few girls and young women because of the practice that a
societal catastrophe is now unfolding.
—Anonymous, 44, from the US, had an abortion in India
16. “The military base installation would not help me (‘we
don’t do those procedures’), and I had to seek it out on my
I live in the United States, but was living in the United
Kingdom when I had my abortion. My husband is active-duty
military, and we were stationed there.
I found out I was pregnant when my newborn son was about 6
weeks old (this was 16 years ago). I had not yet started
getting periods again post-delivery, and I was an idiot who
thought it was safe to not use contraceptives until then. When
I went to my doctor to start Depo-Provera, the required
pregnancy test was positive.
I knew immediately that I did not want to continue with the
pregnancy. I was 20, with a brand-new baby, I had been married
less than a year, and we were broke and in a foreign country
with no friends or family. The military base installation would
not help me (“we
don’t do those procedures”), and I had to seek it out on my
own through UK resources.
I was shuffled around to two different exams an hour away
before they would give me an appointment for the actual
procedure. I was only two weeks along when I found out I was
pregnant, and was forced to wait until I was seven weeks after
jumping through all of the hoops. The only clinic that would do
it was in a sketchy Brixton neighborhood in London (more than
three hours of travel from where we lived) and the whole
experience to that point felt as though it were designed to
The procedure itself was quick, and I don’t really remember it.
The hardest part of it all was the stigma surrounding abortion
— especially if you’re already a mother. To this day, my
husband is the only person who knows about it. Feeling like
it’s this dirty secret I have to keep so that family and
friends won’t see me in a negative light has been pretty
damaging. Anyway, three years after that I had a baby girl
(planned for when we were ready for another child), and I have
never for a moment regretted the choice I made.
—Emma, 37, from the US, had an abortion in the UK
I was 17, three months pregnant by a boy I had separated from
recently due to his violent and controlling nature. I had known
I was pregnant shortly after we had broken up, but was fearful
to tell him because he’s been known to be violent and abusive,
and my mother wasn’t aware I had been sexually active.
When I did tell him, he was angry, punched walls, and told me
repeatedly that he wanted it dead by the next day. Due to my
ignorance, fear, and still being controlled by him, I took his
advice, went home, had a scalding bath, and drank alcohol to
the point of vomiting and blacking out. Sure enough, a day
later I experienced what seemed to be a very heavy period, and
the next pregnancy test I took at Family Planning came back
I told the ex-boyfriend and was met with a very different
reaction. He called me a killer, saying that if I had kept the
baby, our relationship could’ve worked and we would’ve had a
family. For a while I did think of myself as a killer, and my
mind was filled with so many what-ifs. Looking back on it now,
I did do the right thing. That baby would’ve grown up in an
unstable and volatile home, and I would not wish that upon any
child, being a child of a single mother who had also left an
emotionally abusive marriage.
If I had continued with the pregnancy, I know the baby would’ve
been loved by me. But my love alone would not have been able to
raise and support a child with what it needs to succeed in
life. I would never knowingly put any child of mine in a
situation for them to be harmed, which is what would’ve
happened if I had given birth. I like to think of my baby
sometimes, though. I like to think they’re watching over me,
and that they’re proud of me.
—C. Ellen, 17, New Zealand
18. “I told my husband that I would get the abortion whether he
approved or not.”
I am happily married and have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter.
We had decided not to have any more kids, but I still hadn’t
gotten my tubes tied when I fell pregnant two years ago. I was
first sad, then I panicked. I told my husband, and although we
had decided not to have more babies, he said he wanted us to
keep it. In his religion, abortion is not an option.
I had already gone through two miscarriages and one pregnancy
to term, with a birth that left me scarred mentally for life. I
told my husband that I would get the abortion whether he
approved or not. I said even if he would divorce me for it, I
would do it. He finally came around to a certain degree, but
refused to talk about it. I honored that.
So I booked an appointment at the hospital two weeks later and
went in. I was scared and alone, but it could not have been a
better experience. The doctor who examined me to verify the
pregnancy understood my situation, and we talked about my
tattoos during the exam. Afterwards, I went to a nurse and had
to read and sign a paper saying that this had been done
voluntarily, then she talked to me for a few minutes and gave
me two pills to swallow. I got another vaginal tablet to take
two days later.
A week before Christmas I took it in the morning, and by the
afternoon it all came out. It was uncomfortable, but did not
hurt. It was weird for a few days, but I got back to normal
soon enough. The holidays were not so nice, but I got through
it. My husband and I never spoke about it, and three months
later I got the surgery to cut my tubes.
It’s been over two years, and although I don’t regret my
decision, I still think about it sometimes. I have told few
people about this, but wish this was more openly talked about.
It is not something done with ease, it’s such a hard thing to
do. But I would do it again, and I support anyone who feels the
—Siv, 32, Norway
19. “I’m very grateful to the NHS for dealing with this so
compassionately and quickly.”
I was forced into an abortion by a family member who
systematically mentally and emotionally abused me for years,
and used my daughter against me. She said that if I didn’t go
through with it, she’d have my daughter taken away by making
false allegations to social services — and since she played the
part of the sweet old lady perfectly, I have no doubt they’d
have believed her story.
The hospital staff were very reassuring and kept me calm, and
made sure I was okay afterwards as I made it very clear I had
no choice and didn’t want to do it, but I was never made to
feel bad or talked out of it, as they knew this would only
cause more emotional upset and potentially harm me or my
The situation was sensitively handled, and I was continually
reassured that there was not yet a baby with functioning
cognitive and nervous systems, so there was no suffering
involved. I was kept calm during the procedure and after. There
was no real physical pain, it was comparable to bad period
I still struggle with guilt and wishing I had my baby, but
other than my own emotional problems and personal beliefs, I
have no issues with how the abortion was performed. I did the
right thing for my family; I’d have ended up homeless with
either two children or none, as I was threatened with physical
violence to get rid of the fetus and she’d have had my living
daughter taken away from me.
I’m very grateful to the NHS for dealing with this so
compassionately and quickly.
—A, 22, Scotland
20. “I thank whatever is up there for my ever-loving family.”
I found out on my 17th birthday. My mother hugged me and asked,
“What do you want to do?” It kind of hit me. I was with my
first boyfriend. I was on the Pill and we used condoms, so I
was never prepared for the chance of pregnancy.
I stood there for a minute thinking, but I knew that I had
already made the choice. I could not afford a child. I was
almost done with high school. Just being pregnant scared me. My
boyfriend was in no position to be a father, plus his parents
hated me and would kill him.
My doctor scared me when she told me that I was further along
than I thought. In Denmark, abortions are not performed after
the 12th week, unless special permission is granted. However,
the ultrasound showed I was eight weeks pregnant, qualifying me
for a medical abortion.
I took the pills and cuddled up next to my boyfriend and fell
asleep. After 30 minutes I was woken up by a wincing pain
throughout my body. My boyfriend tried calming me, but it got
worse and worse. He called my mother, and for several minutes,
which felt like an eternity, I lay there, crying and shaking
from the pain.
My parents and my boyfriend sat next to me all the time,
holding my hand, humming and calming me. And then it stopped,
and I fell right back to sleep for another 10 hours. I felt the
fetus falling out of me.
Afterwards, I was relieved. My boyfriend and I are still
together, and I thank whatever is up there for my ever-loving
—Anonymous, 18, from Greenland, had an abortion in Denmark
Malaysia bans abortion except to save a woman’s life or
preserve her physical or mental health.
I’ve had two abortions. In this country, it is an illegal
procedure in most cases and is often done clandestinely.
The first time I was date-raped, but I only found out nine
weeks later. I couldn’t understand how I was pregnant, as I had
not had sex for four months since my fiancé went overseas.
Based on the calculation of the fetus’s age, I realized that
this one afternoon when I woke up in my friend’s car after
lunch must’ve been the day the rape happened. I’d assumed I was
sleeping in the car because I’d been tired.
I was in a long-distance relationship with my fiancé, and even
though he wanted me to keep it, the baby would just remind me
of my rape. My mother was there when I found out, and she
helped me find a place to abort and to pay for it.
The second time, it happened because the condom broke. We went
to the clinic that same day to get an equivalent of Plan B, but
the doctor said because I was ovulating, it may not work.
My fiancé was in the Army, serving overseas (we conceived when
he joined me for a holiday). My mother was battling cancer,
while my brother was in jail. I was a teacher, which meant that
I couldn’t be pregnant out of wedlock. On top of that, I am
Muslim. So it was a whole bunch of cons that outweighed the
This time around, it was a difficult process for me
emotionally. I couldn’t tell my mom, as I worried it would
break her heart, but I did tell my sister and my girlfriends,
who all came to support me at the clinic for the procedure.
For some closure, I named it before the procedure took place,
so I could say goodbye. It really broke my fiancé’s heart that
we couldn’t keep it. I still feel an immense amount of guilt,
but I also know that it was the best decision at the time.
What really helped me was the support of my girlfriends and my
sister, some of whom were very religious but respected my
decision and knew that it was not an easy one to make. Right
before I went in, when it was time for evening prayers, they
excused themselves to go and pray for me. That meant the world
to me, that I wasn’t alone.
22. “I am lucky and privileged that I live in a country where
abortion is not frowned upon and is free.”
I had a feeling I was pregnant after I slept with this guy. I
waited for two weeks until I was supposed to get my period and
kept telling myself I was being paranoid. When I was a couple
of days late, I took a pregnancy test, still telling myself I
was just being stupid — until the first one came back positive,
and then second, and the third.
I immediately made an appointment. Because I was so fast, I
only was given the pill and had a fast abortion. I never
considered keeping it as I was not in a good place, and did not
want to be stuck to this guy and have his baby. I am lucky and
privileged that I live in a country where abortion is not
frowned upon and is free.
—Anne, 26, Netherlands
23. “It’s a head fuck, it’s never left me, and I would not have
changed a thing.”
My abortion was over 14 years ago now. I still think about it
every day. When I found out I was pregnant, I was 22, working
the late shift in a shitty kitchen in a shitty bar in a shitty
town. I was using the Pill but something went wrong and I wound
up seven weeks pregnant before I knew.
I read the positive test result shaking in the basement hole of
a staff bathroom and knew that I couldn’t do it. As a survivor
of (ongoing, relentless, for years) childhood sexual abuse,
however, nothing filled me with cold dread more than the
prospect of being entered and opened and having a life
withdrawn from me. It was paralyzing and I knew I couldn’t be
awake for it.
I live in Canada, where we have fairly reasonable access to
health care and I’m very grateful for this. Still, the only
hospital I could find that would perform the procedure under
general anesthetic was a two-hour drive from my town and booked
for the next five weeks. By the time I was able to get it done,
I was over 12 weeks pregnant. I had grown protective of and
attached to the fetus and was heartbroken, but there was no way
that I would have been able to provide any stability or future
for a child at that point in my life. The doctors were
aggressive and judgmental. One literally threw a packet of
misoprostol (to soften the cervix — I knew because I looked it
up, not because he explained it to me) at my head and barked,
“Take these.” I crossed myself going in and a visibly pregnant
doctor sneered at me.
I sat in my friend’s car on the way back, on an old blanket in
case I bled through, and stopped to sob and bleed in a truck
stop toilet stall.
This is not a decision any individual takes lightly. I am
wholeheartedly pro-choice but recognize the agony and struggle
that anyone who makes this decision goes through and respect
everyone’s journey through abortion. It’s a head fuck, it’s
never left me, and I would not have changed a thing.
—Anonymous, 36, Canada
24. “I went to the clinic and it was all in Spanish. I hardly
spoke a word.”
My boyfriend at the time instantly said, “We are not ready for
this.” A part of me saw us happy and settled with a baby. In
Spain the abortion law is up to 12 weeks, so the doctor told us
to check. It turned out I was only about seven to eight weeks,
but there were two babies. I had a massive mix of emotions.
My boyfriend basically said to me, if you want this, you’re on
your own and you have to go back to England. He was from a very
different culture and background than I was, so it would never
have worked. After a lot of thought, I decided at 21 I wasn’t
prepared to end my life and have two babies on my own.
I went to the clinic and it was all in Spanish. I hardly spoke
a word, so I had my best friend with me to translate. Then the
doctor called my name and I had to go alone. He spoke in
Spanish and I just looked at him. He sent me into what was
basically a cupboard and told me to put a gown on and leave my
bag in there. I was scared. He took me into the room, and I lay
on the bed and burst into tears. I said I couldn’t do it and
didn’t want to. Then I remember lots of people looking at me. I
saw a needle on my right and an older Spanish lady who told me
to relax: In three minutes, it’s over. Everything went
hazy and I woke up in another room with two other girls on
either side of me.
For the next month I cried every day. I grew to hate my
boyfriend and blamed everything on him. I drank and partied a
lot. Eventually I got over it, but our relationship completely
broke down. I knew I was missing something.
I fell pregnant a year later with a guy I had only been seeing
a short while. We never worked out, but now I have the most
beautiful 1-year-old. I know I only have her because I let
someone else influence my decision before. I always to this day
think, What if I had never gone through with it, what would
my life be like? But I wouldn’t have her.
—Emily, 24, from England, had an abortion in Spain
25. “The only hospital I could go to was full of pro-life
doctors who did everything they could to delay my
View this image ›
I became pregnant because my ex-boyfriend didn’t think it was
important to tell me he had ripped the condom while opening it.
When I told him the news, the first thing he said was, “Get rid
of it. I don’t want to be a dad, I’m too young.” That’s when I
realized that I would be alone through the process.
I went to see a doctor who helped me through a few steps and
told me to come back once I had my ultrasound done. I did my
ultrasound with another doctor who shamed me for wanting an
abortion and for being pregnant. Then I went back to see the
first doctor, who spent 20 minutes yelling at me that I should
already be at the hospital, that I was stupid to come back
(even though that was what he had asked me to do). He gave me
the name of a gynecologist who could help me, and told me to
pay him. I just felt terrible because I had very little money.
I finally got an appointment with this gynecologist who was of
great help. She explained everything and told me to go have an
ultrasound again to know if the baby’s heart had started
beating. I went, and they asked me to wait in the waiting room
where there were only women far into pregnancy, who were
rubbing their bellies and were so happy to be future mothers. I
felt like a criminal among them, and I understood that the
receptionist had done it on purpose, because there were five
waiting rooms, one dedicated to women that would have
abortions. I wasn’t in it.
A med student saw me and took me to the other waiting room,
apologizing for my having been placed in the wrong one. He was
very sweet during the appointment and explained the whole
process in detail. Two days later, I finally had my abortion.
The nurses were rather sweet with me. But it was something that
completely broke me. I didn’t tell any of my friends before my
abortion, except one, who supported and checked on me. He’s now
my boyfriend, and whenever I freak out when I think about the
experience, he’s there to reassure me. It was really hard to
have that abortion, because the only hospital I could go to was
full of pro-life doctors who did everything they could to delay
my abortion until I would run out of time.
I was 19, a student already dealing with mental illness, and
this child would never have been a blessing. The fact that
those anti-abortion doctors made it an even harder experience
brought on a suicidal state of mind that didn’t go away until I
knew it was gone.
—Eliane, 20, France
26. “I went to a clinic well-known for reproductive health but
also on the DL for safe abortions.”
Kenya bans abortion except to save a woman’s life or
I was 21 with just a month until my university graduation. I
had taken my closest friend for the procedure about two months
before my incident, so I knew what I needed to do. My
then-boyfriend had a conscience and wanted to keep it, but I
was sure I could not spend the rest of my life with him just
because I had his child.
I gathered my girls and all my savings at the time — it
was15,000 Kenyan shillings or about $150. I went to a clinic
well-known for reproductive health but also on the DL for safe
What shocked me most was in line to get worked on there were
some 13-year-olds. (13?!) It was a pill insertion because I was
just a month along. There were 15 to 20 minutes where I was
just shivering and shaking involuntarily, my boyfriend looking
on all scared, and that was it. I bled it out like a normal
period the rest of the month.
I was so calm during the procedure, surprisingly. Guilt checked
in later that night and I cried my eyes out and prayed for
forgiveness. Now it’s a past I don’t talk about. Wouldn’t do it
—Sheila, 26, Kenya
27. “If we somehow made it to live birth, it would mean
watching him die in front of our eyes.”
I conceived via IVF, and my pregnancy was very wanted and
planned. However, my baby was diagnosed with fatal
abnormalities I’d never even heard of until it happened to me —
ectopia cordis, omphalocele, and cystic hygroma — strongly
suspected at 10.5 weeks and confirmed at 12.5 weeks. It was the
worst feeling of being trapped I’ve ever felt in my life, where
every option facing me was awful. I didn’t want to end my
However, continuing to carry meant a higher likelihood that my
baby would feel pain from the abnormalities and complications.
It also meant continuing to walk around every day knowing I
wouldn’t be bringing my baby home and wondering if he was
already gone. Then the further along I ended up being when he
died, the more complicated the procedure would be for removing
the pregnancy. If we somehow made it to live birth, it would
mean watching him die in front of our eyes, likely with vain
resuscitation attempts because hospital policies provide
protection for trying to keep a baby alive but not for letting
We live in a conservative state where it is hard to find anyone
willing to perform a termination aside from at abortion
clinics, so that is where we had to go. The clinic was a
three-hour drive away. We had enough money for the fee, and we
paid cash. We had a surgical termination at 13 weeks and
received compassionate care at the clinic, but it was an
extremely traumatic day having to say goodbye, especially
because I could only have conscious sedation for the procedure
and was aware of what was happening.
In a perfect world, I would have liked general anesthesia in a
hospital with insurance coverage and supportive people (like
they do for women having a D&C who have had a spontaneous
loss), but I felt we were blocked from that dignity. Afterward,
I felt a sense of relief, but our hearts were crushed. We are
slowly healing, but we will always love and miss our baby and
wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.
—Anonymous, United States
I was in a long-distance relationship for four years and was
basically living somewhere between Germany and Turkey. My
boyfriend was everything but supportive. I told him if that if
he didn’t want to be a dad, he didn’t have to, and that I would
do it on my own. We could live separate lives 3,000 kilometers
apart. That’s when I found out it was twins. I realized without
a working support system, I wouldn’t have had a chance. Single
mum with two babies? Thank you, Mother Nature!
I begged for him to do this with me but he just wouldn’t. By
that time I was full of hormones, and to be honest not in a
state of mind to make that decision. But I did. I told myself
that there was no other way but abortion.
So I got my appointment and was cold about it. But when I was
lying on that table, right before I got sedated, I started
crying. Not a tear — I cried heavily. I woke up crying. Not
this dizzy waking-up-from-anesthesia feeling, not the way you
wake up when you overslept your finals. I woke up crying like
I’d lost everything. They couldn’t calm me down, so they had to
give me something. I remember the nurse saying she sees
abortions every day but had never seen someone devastated the
way I was.
I felt bad for a really long time. I couldn’t get out of that
feeling of being pregnant. Kept having my hand on my belly,
kept being careful. Couldn’t delete my pregnancy app, was
looking at the progress of growing my two little babies, every
day not being able to accept that there was no growth inside of
me. It completely controlled my life.
It’s been over a year now. I had to delete the app, because
after I would have been full term, it kept sending me
notifications: “Did you have your baby yet?”
I still think about them. Last month I followed a lady with
little twins in a mall for like an hour just to look at them.
It never goes away. I have a fulfilled life: good job, nice
house, beautiful location by the sea, and a caring, loving new
boyfriend. As a human being, I couldn’t ask for more happiness,
which makes me think — and wonder how perfect my children would
have made my life.
—Hilal, 26, Turkey
29. “It’s obvious that banning abortion isn’t stopping it from
happening at all.”
bans abortion with no exceptions.
I was about three weeks pregnant. A friend connected me with an
OB-GYN who secretly performed medical abortions, as the
surgical abortions here carry higher risk due to lack of proper
Not having a network to fully talk about and process my
feelings with was hard, as it’s still taboo to discuss abortion
openly. I felt a lot of apprehension about going through a
procedure I wasn’t sure would work, as my friend herself had
multiple complications. The physician was professional, kind,
and thorough. He answered all my doubts about the abortion, and
I felt generally safe in his care. Overall the procedure was
$600, which is double what the average Chilean makes monthly.
The abortion itself took about three visits, or a week, more or
less. The anxiety never lessened every time I stepped into the
doctor’s office, making an excuse to his secretary about why I
needed to see him without an appointment. I don’t regret going
through with my abortion — but seeing the secret network of
women who also walked in with vague reasons for seeing her
physician, it’s obvious that banning abortion isn’t stopping it
from happening at all.
I asked the doctor why he chose to do such a risky thing that
could cost him up to three years in prison. He told me that for
him it wasn’t some sort of “leftist, liberal agenda,” but it
was more a matter of doing the medically ethical thing. Women
will do it regardless of its legality, so why not provide a
safe source and prevent unnecessary deaths?
—Alexandra, 26, Chile
30. “You can be completely confident in your decision and still
be sad, angry, and disappointed. And you should allow yourself
to feel all those things without shame.”
I had a medical abortion when I was five weeks pregnant. At the
time it felt like an easy decision, and I have never regretted
it. But it’s still something that’s with me and that affects me
over four years later. The potential child is nothing I ever
think about. But the feeling of being lonely is something I
don’t think I’ll ever forget.
I pretended for a long time that I was completely fine — I
didn’t allow myself to feel a lot of emotions during that time,
like being sad or being lonely. I thought that it would mean
that I regretted my decision. And my friends who’d had an
abortion were so fine with it, it wasn’t really a big deal to
But with time (and therapy) I’ve learned that you can be
completely confident in your decision and still be sad, angry
and disappointed. And that you should allow yourself to feel
all those things without feeling shame. And if you have a
supportive partner or supportive friends, reach out to them
instead of trying to deal with it alone.
—Anonymous, 29, Sweden
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity. Some
stories were translated from Spanish and Portuguese by Karla
Agis and Luisa Pessoa.