Our Abortion Stories: ‘He Said if I Got Pregnant, He’d Marry Me. I Got Pregnant. He Left.’


Abortion rights protesters march across the Indiana legislature in Indianapolis on July 25, 2022. Indiana is now the primary state to go an abortion restriction after Roe v. Wade‘s overturn and ninth to ban abortion outright, alongside Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. (Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Pictures / LightRocket by way of Getty Pictures)

On June 24, the Supreme Court docket overturned the longstanding precedents of Roe v. Wade, representing the most important blow to ladies’s constitutional rights in historical past. A brand new sequence from Ms., Our Abortion Stories, chronicles readers’ experiences of abortion pre- and post-Roe. Abortions are sought by a variety of individuals, for a lot of totally different causes. There isn’t a single story. Telling tales of then and now reveals how essential abortion has been and continues to be for ladies and ladies.

The autumn of Roe will pressure abortion entry nationwide. We can not, we should not, lose the best to protected and accessible abortion or entry to contraception. Assist Ms. proceed the combat immediately. Share your abortion story by emailing [email protected].

Editor’s notice: These tales have been excerpted and flippantly edited for readability.

Content material warning: This story accommodates graphic descriptions of surgical procedure, rape and sexual assault.

I had family and friends members who received abortions within the Nineteen Seventies and early Eighties. But it surely wasn’t till I realized the story of my great-aunt that I started to affix native and nationwide marches to combat for abortion rights.

I used to be on the calling hours for my grandfather’s funeral and my dad and I had been speaking throughout a quiet second. We talked about grandpa’s siblings—he was born in Italy in 1896—and I requested, “What occurred to his sister who died early within the Nineteen Fifties?” My dad turned to me and mentioned, “She died of a back-street abortion. Her personal father, my grandfather, discovered her at residence. She had hemorrhaged to loss of life.” Later I mentioned to my mother, “I by no means heard that story earlier than.” And my mother mentioned, “Neither had I.” 

We discovered later that the household was sworn to secrecy and it stayed a shameful secret for nearly 40 years. She was an Italian Roman Catholic and a married lady with three kids. We’ll by no means know what determined circumstances led her to hunt an abortion.

—Elizabeth A.

A person took my cash and advised me to take off my pants and underwear. I hesitated. He advised me to rush up, this wasn’t a spa. I shivered, bare, in a dingy room with males making snide feedback about how I’d had my enjoyable and now I’d pay for it.

In 1958, I didn’t know I wanted to ask him to make use of a condom. He didn’t supply. I used to be denied a diaphragm at a clinic as a result of I didn’t have a wedding license. He mentioned if I received pregnant, he’d marry me. I received pregnant. He left.

No cash. No buddies. I advised my father, a pharmacist. He was offended. “For a sensible lady, you’ve been fairly silly.” 

On the first place, a person in a white coat shoved packing into my vagina and advised me to return in two days. After I got here again, I received bored with ready so lengthy and requested to name my father. The person yelled, “Get the hell out.” That night time I took out the packing. 

My father drove me to the following place. We rang the doorbell and a person mentioned, “You higher go away. The cops are on their means.” As we ran, we heard sirens. 

Later, in Harlem, I rang the doorbell. A person opened it—his fly unzipped, penis out. I ran. 

We went to a resort in Manhattan. My father mentioned he’d wait. I used to be terrified as I knocked on the door. A person took my cash and advised me to take off my pants and underwear. I hesitated. He advised me to rush up, this wasn’t a spa. I shivered, bare, in a dingy room with males making snide feedback about how I’d had my enjoyable and now I’d pay for it.

I used to be advised to lie on the desk and put my ft in stirrups. No anesthesia. The abortion was finished by two males. One mentioned that if I made a sound they’d throw me out. The ache was so intense, I inadvertently moaned. They stopped. One sneered, “One other sound and also you’re out of right here.” I bit my lips and tasted blood. 

Once they completed, blood was seeping down my leg. Angrily one threw me a pad which I put in my underpants, shaking so badly as I dressed, I might hardly stand. 

He pushed me to the door and warned me to not say something. Painfully, I made it to the nook. No father. I felt moist between my legs. I stumbled right into a resort foyer and sank onto a sofa. A uniformed man came to visit and pushed me out the door, however not earlier than I noticed the purple stain on the cushion.

Two males provided me their providers—for a worth. I moved away. My father lastly got here. He noticed my bloody pants and put newspapers on the seat. He mentioned, “Your mom’s very upset so I went residence.”

We drove residence in silence. My mom advised me to go to my room. “Your sister’s celebrating her highschool commencement. You haven’t any proper to spoil it for her.”

I bled for days. Handed tissue with agonizing cramps. Stayed in my room. Silent.

—Nancy King

I might have fortunately taken my abortion story to the grave. So far as I used to be involved, my abortion story was between myself, my husband and our physician and I used to be high quality to file it far, far-off within the darkest recesses of my thoughts. 

After which it turned clear that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned. I watched as ladies round me shared their tales and I knew that I couldn’t keep silent. I used to be invited to seize ladies sharing their tales on video on the Abortion Stories 2022 Festival in New York. The expertise was outstanding: It was pouring rain and tons of of ladies huddled below a tent to commiserate and empathize.

My crew and I had a small arrange within the nook of the tent and we welcomed greater than a dozen ladies to share their tales with us. The ladies ranged in ages from 24 to 82, and their tales had been as assorted as their ages. I listened in horror as ladies described pregnancies that had resulted from rape and assault, and who needed to resort to back-alley abortions to terminate the pregnancies. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, ladies described their post-Roe abortions as “empowering” and spoke of nurses holding their arms through the process. 

One of many ladies within the video mentioned, “We’re your moms and we’re your grandmothers.” That day, I felt that these ladies had been my sisters; we’re related by this shared expertise. That’s after I knew that I needed to share my story, too.

—Christina Anderson

Christina Anderson and her crew welcomed greater than a dozen ladies to share their tales. (Runaway Train Productions)

Yen Yen, a brand new good friend, knew of a physician down in South Central L.A. An actual physician, she mentioned, and she or he would need $200. One way or the other I received the cash collectively and on a Saturday morning my associate, Ian, drove us a somber hour from the U.C. Riverside campus east of L.A. to the physician’s workplace in Compton. The tackle was positioned on a primary avenue in a plain storefront. We went in.

A casually dressed younger lady, maybe in her teenagers, obtained us, instructed him to remain within the ready room and led me via one other door. The therapy room was plain and purposeful. After a couple of minutes, the matronly Black physician in a light-weight blue medical jacket entered.

Circumspect and environment friendly, she defined the process and gave me directions. She had me recline and match into stirrups. I heard the lid of the autoclave open and shut. Then she inserted a size of sterilized rubber tubing into my uterus, together with tincture of inexperienced cleaning soap. She described what she was doing as she labored. She packed in cotton to safe the tubing. Acquainted cramping started instantly. She repeated directions and what to anticipate.

Stated it could be a protracted night time. She was sort.

After that, Ian drove us to the tackle in Hollywood that Yen Yen had given us the place we might keep. My belly cramping intensified and we settled into the studio house. After midnight, we dialed Yen Yen who was anticipating our name. She had mentioned to name when it was time. I’d know.

And he or she got here—sort, tender Yen Yen. I by no means noticed her once more after that night time, however she got here. Amid my pains. Confusion. Vomiting. I couldn’t relaxation. I felt trapped. As I look again, I used to be in actual labor. Ian and I held one another. I do know we each tacitly vowed that nothing like this might ever occur once more. This was actual. Too actual. A far cry from the carefree beginnings of our younger love.


1000’s of ladies who wore the Dalkon Protect had been broken from a spread of sicknesses starting from bacterial an infection of the placenta and fetus, sterilization, involuntary miscarriage, hysterectomy and loss of life from sepsis.  

In 1972, I used to be denied an abortion in Ohio. I used to be pregnant with a Dalkon Protect [a ’70s-era IUD that caused severe injury to a large percentage of women] that the ob-gyn thought may be perforating my uterus. He requested me if I’d change into “insane” if I carried this fetus to time period. I mentioned, “No.” However he introduced he couldn’t assist me and advisable a shady physician. 

After an X-ray that confirmed the gadget was ready that might point out uterine perforation, the shady physician—who had carried out a tough, extraordinarily painful examination whereas smoking a cigar he positioned between my legs—known as to say I ought to put together for belly surgical procedure.  

He damage me and humiliated me through the earlier examination. I didn’t need him touching me once more. As an alternative, we had connections at Yale College the place my husband had taught for years. We had been invited to journey to New Haven for the process. Based on our good friend who organized it, Yale was planning to sue the federal authorities to legalize abortion and would use my case as proof. 

The particular person scheduling surgical procedure was additionally humiliating in her angle and made me wait two extra weeks. I used to be bedridden—extra unwell with nausea, fatigue and normal malaise than with the pregnancies of my three ladies. 

The process happened the morning of Jan. 22, 1973. The gadget had not perforated my uterus and it—together with the fetal materials—was safely extracted. After I awoke from the anesthetic, my husband introduced, “Two necessary issues occurred whilst you had been out. Lyndon Johnson died and abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court docket.” 

As humiliating and troublesome as my expertise to get the abortion was, I used to be extraordinarily lucky. 1000’s of ladies who wore the Dalkon Protect had been broken from a spread of sicknesses starting from bacterial an infection of the placenta and fetus, sterilization, involuntary miscarriage, hysterectomy and loss of life from sepsis. 

Rebecca L.

I had simply advised my husband that I used to be leaving him after I received the information that I used to be pregnant. On the time, I already had two daughters below the age of six. I used to be determining how I used to be going to be a single mom with a demanding job that paid little or no.

I used to be leaving him as a result of he’d emptied my checking account and located my hidden money to pay for groceries. I couldn’t reside like that anymore. I couldn’t increase my ladies in that setting anymore. And there was no means I might deliver one other baby into the chaos that was our lives at that second. Nor might I attempt to clarify adoption to a 2-year-old and 5-year-old. I might simply think about them questioning if they may disappear just like the child that had been in Mommy’s tummy, notably after I was additionally going to have to clarify why we didn’t reside with Daddy anymore. 

I’ve by no means regretted my abortion. I don’t remorse the 2 daughters I had with him, although he proved to be a deadbeat dad who hasn’t seen his youngsters in practically a decade. They’re now grown ladies, each working with kids. I used to be in a position to return to high school, full my diploma. I discovered a temp job, which turned a everlasting assistant place, went again to high school, and finally turned a supervisor, a home-owner and have raised these ladies with out baby help. 

I did it, nevertheless it wasn’t straightforward. And I don’t assume we’d’ve turned out with the lives we now have if there had been one other mouth to feed. Nor, frankly, ought to I’ve to clarify myself or my state of affairs to anybody. I do know I made errors, however who hasn’t? I’m happy with who I’ve change into and who my ladies are. None of it could’ve been attainable had I not been capable of train management over my physique. 

April M.

A girl who had change into a sufferer in an abusive marriage and inevitably had grown to hate her husband and consequently, sadly, his seed and his genes.

I converse as a lady who has no downside changing into pregnant, who, other than nausea, has no issue with being pregnant, whose determine (if one considers this superficiality) has not been disfigured and whose physique reveals no scar. Most of all, I converse as a lady who feels, with all honesty, that there’s nothing extra thrilling, no higher journey than experiencing the being pregnant and delivery of a needed baby.

I additionally converse as a lady who had no say in changing into pregnant, who turned pregnant via an act pressured on her via an obligation she believed she had no proper to refuse, an act akin to rape. A girl who had change into a sufferer in an abusive marriage and inevitably had grown to hate her husband and consequently, sadly, his seed and his genes.

Thus, I want to converse for the ladies for whom a baby represents imprisonment, a barrier between a life that has change into insupportable and freedom.

—Lori Zett

U.S. democracy is at a harmful inflection level—from the demise of abortion rights, to a scarcity of pay fairness and parental go away, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and assaults on trans well being. Left unchecked, these crises will result in wider gaps in political participation and illustration. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Modification, and centering the tales of these most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we’re redoubling our dedication for the following 50 years. In flip, we’d like your assist, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll obtain the print journal together with our e-newsletters, motion alerts, and invites to Ms. Studios occasions and podcasts. We’re grateful to your loyalty and ferocity.

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