It is believed that one in every three women make the decision to have an abortion in the United States. Despite the opinions surrounding the legal procedure, those having the procedure are still human and the outcomes often vary.
The debate is often extreme, as both pro-choice and pro-life individuals duke it out over the rights of a fetus versus the rights of a parent. Occasionally, depressing stories of those who have made the choice to have an abortion surface. However, their is a side that is rarely heard and yet has a powerful voice as well.
Meet some of the women who made the decision.
In an article written earlier this year in Glamor Magazine, the stories of several women were retold in an effort to show how their lives have turned out. With one in three women believed to have at least one abortion, most due to a failure in contraception, by the time they are 45-years-old, the reality is that there is more to the procedure than a simple one-time decision.
In one story of a woman who was in her twenties and had become pregnant after failure of the birth control patch, she explained the difficult decision to have an abortion and another group's horrible targeting of her vulnerability. Following her adult decision, she looked for a viable clinic who specialized in abortions. Her experience, however, was not at all what she expected as the clinic staff turned out to be a "faux-clinic" that operates under the guise of deterring women from aborting.
Another tale of a woman in her late twenties made the decision after she became pregnant by a man she was currently thinking of marrying. It was at that point that she realized just how incompatible the couple was and although she thought about carrying the baby to term and being a single mother, being tied to the father was more than inappropriate for her. She had an abortion at around 7-weeks after having to wait a couple of weeks from the time she saw the doctor until the time she underwent the procedure.
A dangerous medical condition forced one woman in her late thirties to make the decision after problems with conception, an adoption and then a surprising first pregnancy that caused her the loss of eyesight. She was still recovering from the horrible pregnancy and even breastfeeding when she found out she was pregnant again. It was risk her life, leaving her husband alone with two children or abort. She made the decision to terminate, although she did say she felt like a murderer at the time.
A now 37-year-old woman who was expecting her first child explains the decision to have not one, but two abortions due to condom failures at different points in her life. Despite protesters yelling at the woman, she knew that pregnancy and having a child would cause serious problems in the career path she had made. She claims to have no regrets and now, looks forward to a time-appropriate family after being married for 9 years.
Another woman who also became pregnant after using birth control that failed shares her story of strength following the decision to abort. Perceptions that she would have extreme emotional responses after having the procedure proved erroneous, as the expected nervous breakdown never occurred. The "pro-choice" clinic, as opposed to "pro-abortion," where she had her abortion actually sent her home to really give some thought to her decision.
In most of the stories told by these women, there were emotional responses to having the procedure but the decision is still without regrets. One husband and wife pair decided to abort because the wife was using a prescription drug known to cause severe birth defects. It has been four years since their decision but the woman still feels "a connection to that little lima bean." One of the other women described above still has the picture of the 8-week-old fetus taken just prior to her abortion and says that she often wonders if that was her only chance at pregnancy but is still "OK" with her decision.
For some of the others, the emotional pain was viewed as far worse than the minimal discomfort experienced from the procedure itself. Some women told of the downward emotional spiral they experienced following the procedure, even turning to drugs and alcohol, especially by those who are coerced into the decision by an influential partner.
Since 1969, the Center for Disease Control has collected legal abortion data from states volunteering the information. In the most recent of reports compiled by the CDC, just over 820,000 legal abortions, or about 15 in every 1,000 pregnancies for women between the ages of 15 and 44-years-old, were reported by 49 sites.
a higher number of abortions were obtained by white women, unmarried women, and women under 25 years of age (with) more than half (62%) of the reported legal induced abortions were performed during the first 8 weeks of gestation; 88% were performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
In a connected article in the magazine, answers to the most common questions asked by women were given by specialists in obstetrics and gynecology as well as counselors. Questions about future fertility, pain and even how to deal with protesters were privately asked.
As one physician who performs the procedure explained a response from a pregnant woman in another article:
That was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.” (patient)
Dr. Oyer isn’t surprised by Anna’s reaction. “I hear that refrain almost daily when I perform abortions,” she says later. “It’s as if women expect me to come at them with whirling knives.”
That same doctor has performed the safe procedure on Muslims, Catholics and even a woman she had seen protesting outside her clinic the day prior.
The bottom line is that it isn't a simple decision that should be a knee-jerk reaction to pregnancy, but rather one option in a list of of many depending upon life situation, financial status, support and even health. It happens to married couples as well as single women of all ages. Asking oneself during the difficult decision making process about personal beliefs, current mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, supportive family and friends, and even a bit of a selfish look into the situation as to whether or not it will be the best decision for the person having the procedure can all help predict the emotional response to life after the abortion. For instance, many women with a history of mental health problems are more likely to suffer emotional consequences after having an abortion.
The decision is a difficult one for many adult women but it isn't always one that destroys the individual.