On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned longstanding precedents of Roe v. Wade, representing the greatest blow to women’s constitutional rights in history. Our abortion stories tell readers’ experiences with abortion before and afterDeer. Abortions are sought by a wide range of people, for many different reasons. There is no single story. Telling stories from then and now shows how critical abortion has been and continues to be for women and girls.
The fall of deer will put a strain on access to abortion nationwide. We cannot, we must not lose the right to safe and accessible abortion or access to birth control. To help M/s. continue the fight today. Share your abortion story via email [email protected]and sign our petition “We had abortions”.
Editor’s Note: These stories have been excerpted and lightly edited for clarity.
The day Roe rolled over, a memory monopolized my mind.
I was 14 and my mom got a call from the YWCA. It was time to take a pregnancy test. My body was numb from the worst night of my life: the night I was raped.
An older boy invited me to watch a movie on a beautiful day in June. I passed my first year and finally felt comfortable in my teenage skin.
We never watched the movie. Once alone in his room, we talked and we kissed. We drank terrible vodka, her eyes glazed over and everything in the room got darker. I remember screaming, begging him to stop. Him turning me around like a rag doll. I remember seeing it happen, suspended in the air in the corner of the room. I remember screaming. He wasn’t listening. My voice didn’t matter.
The rape (or “the incident” as everyone called it), the forensic examination at the YWCA, and the subsequent legal process all had one thing in common: I had no agency.
The pregnancy test was negative. “Thank God,” my mother said.
I have lived a full life. I became a lawyer. I lived in Spain. I arrived in South America, I danced in the streets of Buenos Aires. I loved deeply and I accepted the love.
But I can’t ignore the time I collapsed on the kitchen floor and traced the veins in my wrist with a butcher knife. That girl on the floor is me, as much as the woman accepting a doctorate in law is me.
More than 20 years later, another beautiful day in June, I read Roe vs. Wade had been overthrown. My partner held me while I cried. I was 14 again and wondered: What if the pregnancy test had been positive? If I had been raped in a post-deer world, could I have chosen to have an abortion? Would I still be alive today?
The judges who signed the Dobbs notice don’t care about me 14 years old. They made it clear that my voice doesn’t matter, nor does my body. Forcing a person to have an unwanted pregnancy will lead to trauma and even death.
I mourn for the people who will be hurt in this post-Roe world. I want them to know they are not alone. I have experienced helplessness. I have known despair. I know my voice is powerful now, especially when amplified by the voices of others. We cannot let six regressive judges have the last word.
When Roe died, I was 11 years old. I remember my grandmother was crying. All she said was, “Now they can be safe.
I had been on the pill for five years in 1977 when it failed me and I became pregnant. The day after I found out, I boarded a Greyhound to an abortion clinic 60 miles away.
I had just taken my seat when two priests in Roman collars came on board. They walked down the aisle and sat across from me. I clutched my bag with my robe, slippers, sanitary napkins, and money stashed inside, as if the priests posed some kind of threat. I spent the hour-long drive staring at the back of their heads, first defensively, then with contempt when I realized that an abortion would excommunicate me from the Catholic Church. It amazed me to realize that I welcomed him. My mother was Protestant, and I had grown up unconsciously defending her from the Church’s subtle but ever-present hostility to non-Catholics. I liked the idea of being an outsider, a maverick, a dissident. To finally become my mother’s daughter.
My mom, when I finally told her, was sorry that I didn’t call her for a ride and had to go to the clinic alone. Whether she supported a woman’s right to choose despite her eight children or because of them, I cannot say.
My grandmother told me that one of her nieces got pregnant while her husband was fighting in the Vietnam War. She came to ask my grandmother for help. My grandmother was the favorite aunt of all her nieces and nephews.
My grandmother was a devout Catholic, daily rosary, and went to church at least twice a week. We have family members who are priests.
My grandmother had compassion for her niece and was able to find “a place”. She said it was awful. His niece survived, unable to bear children afterwards.
When Roe died, I was 11 years old. I remember my grandmother was crying. All she said was, “Now they can be safe.”
Even a medically safe abortion cannot be truly safe if it is illegal and shrouded in secrecy.
My aunt Sally had a medically safe abortion in 1953. She was a doctor and her abortionist was also a doctor. She had access to a safe method of abortion, and the abortion was performed in the hospital where they worked.
The consequences of her abortion, however, were far from harmless. Her abortionist was also her lover.
Dr. Sarah Matteson, as she was known professionally, was the first female chief resident of psychiatry at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. She worked closely with Dr. George Engel on cutting-edge treatments in psychosomatic medicine. Having a child would have interrupted his promising career, perhaps permanently.
Sally’s lover, Paul, was a general practitioner who had served in World War II as a public relations officer, reporting on scenes of carnage on the European front. He had survivors’ guilt, now recognized as a symptom of PTSD. He and Sally had been dating for three years. She had tried to break off the relationship several times, but felt enormous guilt for leaving him in his fragile state.
Some time after the abortion, Sally and Paul went to a restaurant near the hospital during a break from the night shift. As they walked back to Strong Memorial, on the tennis courts behind the hospital, Paul pulled out a gun and shot Sally twice, in the face and in the abdomen. Then he shot himself in the head. Sally survived the shooting, but Paul didn’t.
The great promise of Sally’s career has evaporated. She did not resume her position as Chief Resident. Sally continued her career in psychiatry, but not to the exhilarating levels she was aiming for while at Strong. She never worked full time again.
Sally’s physical injuries were visible on her face. Half of his face was paralyzed from the shooting, so his smile was crooked. She also lost hearing in her right ear and often cupped her left ear to hear better. She was still incredibly beautiful.
Sally had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, the risk of illegal abortion, as well as the added burden of caring for her mentally fragile lover.
Although Sally’s abortion was medically safe, it cost her her career, left her guilty for life of her lover’s suicide, and kept her silent on the subject for 52 years. She suffered from depression and alcoholism her entire adult life.
As we face a future of recriminalized abortion in many states, I want to add Sally’s story to the many pre-deer Abortion. Even a medically safe abortion cannot be truly safe if it is illegal and shrouded in secrecy.
—Alice Knox Eaton
Sign and share Mrs. relaunched the “We had abortions” petition– whether you have had an abortion yourself or simply stand in solidarity with those who have – to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: we will not abandon the right to a safe abortion, legal and accessible.