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Here's What It's Really Like To Have An Abortion

For the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we reflect on the various experiences of people who have been there.

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Forty-four years ago, the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade affirmed a woman's legal right to have an abortion.

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In a 7–2 decision, the Supreme Court struck down an older Texas law that prohibited abortions except in cases where the woman's life was at stake. They decided that a woman's right to an abortion fell under the right to privacy. Ultimately, Roe v. Wade protects a woman's right to an abortion throughout her pregnancy, though it also allows states to regulate abortion during the second and third trimesters.

President Trump has said he plans to appoint anti–abortion rights Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade. Here's more information about how that could hypothetically play out, and what it would mean for you.

As abortion access continues to be threatened, debated, and hotly discussed, there's one perspective we don't often hear enough of: people who have actually had an abortion.

BuzzFeed Health asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their abortion stories. The form was shared widely and translated into several languages.

From the English form alone, we received over 1,200 responses. While we would have loved to include them all, we selected 44 stories from American women that we felt represented the broad range of experiences that we received.

1. "I did choose life...I chose my life."

Jenny Chang / Via buzzfeed.com

"I got pregnant while I was a senior in high school by my abusive boyfriend. As soon as I found out, I went to the abortion clinic but could not afford it. My pregnancy advanced and my boyfriend continued to threaten to push me down the stairs or punch me in the stomach.

"When my parents found out, my dad took me to DC where abortions are legal until 20 weeks. I was put in a large room with about 20 women and one by one we were taken back for the abortion and then brought back in. Each woman came back holding their stomach and crying. The process was quick and heartless.

"I suffered for two years with depression that went untreated. It has been the most painful and traumatic experience of my life. But I want anyone that reads this to know I do not regret my choice. I did choose life...I chose my life. Having that baby would have kept me in an abusive relationship that I don't know if I could have survived."

—Nicole, 33

2. "The moment I said I wanted an abortion, they offered me a free ultrasound, showed me pictures and models of what the fetus looked like, and gave me mountains of pamphlets."

"The first clinic I went to ended up being a Christian counseling center disguised as a pregnancy resource center. The moment I said I wanted an abortion, they offered me a free ultrasound, showed me pictures and models of what the fetus looked like, and gave me mountains of pamphlets. They followed up on a daily basis with phone calls and messages.

"When I found the real abortion clinic, they were patient, professional, caring, and honestly some of the nicest people I've ever met. The doctor who performed the procedure was funny and helpful. He thanked my boyfriend for being there as most men don't come in for the appointment. I had cookies and juice in a weird recovery room with a bunch of other women and girls before the nurse came and let me leave. It was a surreal experience that has definitely stuck with me, but not in a negative way.

"I experienced depression for a few months afterward — it flared up whenever I saw pregnant women, but I kept it to myself because my boyfriend didn't want to talk about it. I often wonder what would have happened if we decided to keep it, but I don't regret the decision I made. That relationship ended up being toxic, emotionally abusive, and very manipulative, so thinking about what it would have been like to raise a child in that environment is enough to know I made the right decision."

—Anonymous, 28

3. "We spent $25,000 roughly on fertility treatments. Then this happened."

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"My husband and I dealt with infertility for a few years and conceived via IVF. Our child is the light of our lives, but it was hard, and I decided I never wanted to do IVF again. I also didn't think we needed to use birth control since the doctors called it 'next to impossible' that we would conceive naturally.

"And then, when our child was only 1, we discovered that nothing is impossible. We were shocked. We spent about an hour talking and crying about it and decided to go forward with terminating. I live in a state where it is relatively easy. I called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment for a week out for a 'medical abortion,' which is the pill form. I took the pill in the office by myself. And a day and a half later, took the other pill. I took one day off from work.

"I don't regret it, but I feel a great deal of shame. We are 35 years old, both have a master's degree, and make $150,000 a year. We spent $25,000 roughly on fertility treatments. Then this happened. We could never tell our friends and families who are still 'hoping for a miracle,' but I'm very happy with one child. I went back to PP for an IUD. But I honestly wish I could erase this from my medical past because I'm afraid of judgment from future medical providers."

—Anonymous, 35

4. "I was scared and overwhelmed with how I was going to support the two kids I had."

"Twenty years ago I had a surgical abortion in Colorado. My husband had just left me and our two kids, and I found out I was pregnant with a third. I was scared and overwhelmed with how I was going to support the two kids I had.

"It was a relief when I got an appointment. They gave me a Valium before so I would relax. The machine was loud so I kept talking to drown out the sound. Luckily the nurse knew what I was doing and kept it from being one-sided. After it was done, I still felt relief. Unfortunately, the clinic was shut down a few years later. The nearest clinic is now over four hours away."

—Anonymous, 41

5. "I had just started my dream job, and I was sure about what I was going to do as soon as I read the positive strip."

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"I was 29 and he was a one-night stand. I had just started my dream job, and I was sure about what I was going to do as soon as I read the positive strip. I had a surgical abortion at six weeks. I had support and was financially stable. The experience was unfortunate, but I have never once regretted my choice."

—Anonymous, 39

6. "I found out I was pregnant three days after my brother's funeral."

"I called my mom. I guess she just assumed I was happy about it, and she had me tell my stepdad and my other brother, who were both so excited. My brother even told me it was the first time he had really smiled since our brother died. Everyone saw so much meaning in it. A life was gone and now there's this new one. So I tried to force myself to be happy with it. But in the following days I just couldn't do it; rather, I couldn't do anything. It hit me so hard and so suddenly. I would just crumble on the floor and cry. The whole thing was just too much.

"Everyone was supportive of me, but my boyfriend of five years was the first person to tell me something that made sense: He told me I was allowed to be selfish. If I wanted that baby, I was allowed to be selfish and have that baby. If I didn't want that baby, I was allowed to be selfish and not have that baby. There is no wrong decision, I just had to be selfish. What finally made my decision though was looking at my cat and realizing I felt more like a mother looking at her than I did thinking about what was growing inside me. So a week after finding out I was pregnant, I opted to have a medical abortion.

"The abortion itself was (mostly) a wonderful experience. Everyone working at the clinic was so helpful and supportive. And I got to complete the abortion at home. So the next day I crawled into bed with my boyfriend, put on my super cool adult diapers, inserted the pills, and put on some Game of Thrones. And let me fucking tell you, it was excruciating, like... I honestly believed I could go into shock kind of pain. These cramps radiated throughout my whole body to the point where I could barely breathe. I actually cut my palms on my nails from clenching my fists so hard. But once it was done, it was done."

—Maggie, 26

7. "I know that people may judge me for being seemingly prepared to have a baby at the time, but we weren't and we knew it."

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"I was 26 and just moved to a new city with my partner, having recently graduated and started new jobs. My partner and I knew we wanted kids, but we were simply not ready at that time. I went to Planned Parenthood, and was reassured that having an abortion would not impact my chances of having children in the future.

"Ten years later, I'm married to that same partner with two little ones. I know that people may judge me for being seemingly prepared to have a baby at the time, but we weren't and we knew it. It wasn't a decision we took lightly, and one that I don't regret."

—Anonymous

8. "I have always been very against abortion and wanted the child. However, I knew the odds were very good that I would die in childbirth, leaving the children I already had without a mother."

"I am happily married and have two children already. When my second child was born, I had a brain hemorrhage that almost killed me. I was advised not to have any more children. Seven years later, I got pregnant again. I have always been very against abortion and wanted the child. However, I knew the odds were very good that I would die in childbirth, leaving the children I already had without a mother. I decided to terminate the pregnancy.

"My best friend accompanied me to a clinic, and escorted me past protesters. Because I was only five weeks pregnant, I qualified for the pill method. However, because I live in Texas, I was required to have an ultrasound to be sure I understood the thing inside me was a baby. As if I didn't know. I had the ultrasound. The nurse was very sensitive and didn't force me to look at the ultrasound. I was given information and sent home to wait the required 24 hours.

"I went back the next day, past more protesters. I was called back with a group of about 10 other women. A nurse read us the required statement and we took a pill to stop the pregnancy from developing. We were all sent home with two more pills to take the next day. I shook the entire day, violently. I bled horrifically. I mourned and cried. Two weeks later, I went back to confirm the pregnancy had indeed been terminated.

"The next day, Texas passed stricter abortion laws and the clinic shut down."

—Katie, 35

9. "My boyfriend at the time felt like he was losing me so he started poking holes in condoms."

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"I was 22. My boyfriend at the time felt like he was losing me so he started poking holes in condoms. I found out I was pregnant after leaving him. Shortly after, he was arrested for sleeping with a student. He was a special education teacher.

"Thankfully my regular doctor was able to prescribe me the abortion pill. It was just like a heavy period. I have zero regrets; I do however keep it a secret because of my strict Catholic family. I wish I was strong enough to be more vocal about my experience. The hardest part for me is when a friend or acquaintance is in the same situation and considering one, the vast majority of women I know will say that she shouldn't do it because she'll regret it forever."

—Jen, 33

10. "Our two sons were in state custody, and we were fighting to get them back when I found out I was pregnant."

"My husband and I were going through a hard time. Our two sons were in state custody, and we were fighting to get them back when I found out I was pregnant. We talked about it and decided it would be best to get an abortion rather then have it and then it go into state custody. My two sons were abused while in custody. I chose medical abortion."

—Anonymous, 44

11. "Despite my taking Plan B, I was in fact, pregnant."

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"I was 19 years old and in love with a boy who never really loved or respected me. One night, after having a few too many drinks at the college bar, he took me home and without my permission, failed to pull out. After taking the Plan B pill four hours later, I still felt extremely uneasy. A week later, I took a home pregnancy test only to find out that despite my taking Plan B, I was in fact, pregnant.

"Completely devastated, the boy I was dating told me that he wasn't going to take care of the baby and that no one would want to be with a 20-year-old single mom. At the time, I had two family members suffering from cancer and couldn't fathom completely wrecking their world. I was a promising college student who had the world at her fingertips. I wanted to keep the baby, but I didn't know how I would be able to provide the necessary resources for it.

"Two weeks later, I went to the clinic and took the pill that would abort the baby. Scared and alone, I lay on my bed sobbing and trying to find the words in prayer that would help God forgive me. After years of learning to forgive myself, I know that my decision was the best thing for me. I have forgiven myself and more importantly, learned to love myself."

—Anonymous, 26

12. "Some people might think that that makes me a monster, but it was just the way we handled it. Not emotionless, just rational."

"I was 25 years old and had just started dating my now-husband. We got pregnant accidentally after five months of knowing each other. We knew we wanted kids one day but it just wasn't the right time — we were just getting to know ourselves and each other, we both lived far away from our families. And deep down I knew I wasn't ready to be the kind of mother I want to be.

"So at around four or five weeks pregnant we booked an appointment at a clinic and had the procedure. I paid the extra to get 'knocked out' and didn't feel much pain at all. It was $500 in the DC area. Then we went home and snuggled on the couch and watched movies as I recovered.

"What amazed/surprised me about the experience was how I was very calm and very sure that we were making the right decision. Some people might think that that makes me a monster, but it was just the way we handled it. Not emotionless, just rational.

"Plus, we are now married and expecting our first child! There's nothing wrong with doing things in your own time — parenting is a huge responsibility and if you're not prepared for it I imagine it's incredibly difficult. No shame in doing what's right for you and your partner. After all, it's nobody else's business."

—Jane, 31

13. "Roe v. Wade had gone into effect four months before."

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"Roe v. Wade had gone into effect four months before, and I was able to terminate my pregnancy by vacuum procedure in a nearby, calming, non-abusive, and medically safe environment. The procedure itself unpleasant, but I was cared for through it all with fondness and compassion.

"It was a close call — the legal limit for abortion was eight weeks and I only had one week to get an appointment. It was a painful but easy decision and although I would grieve every year at that time, there has never been the slightest doubt that it was the right decision both for the baby and for me."

—Linda, 69

14. "My wanted pregnancy had a severe fetal abnormality that would have resulted in a miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby who would live only hours after birth."

"At 12 weeks, we decided to terminate instead of waiting, thinking it wouldn't be difficult because even conservative states have fetal abnormality exceptions.

"The only clinic in the state had long wait times and protesters. We decided to drive six hours to the next state. This clinic was located in a 12-story medical building, so there were no protesters. The doctors and nurses there were wonderful and understanding, and the procedure itself took five minutes. It cost $800 for the termination, $100 for extra sedatives, and another $500 for a private room (so we didn't have to be with strangers in the waiting room); our government employee insurance covered none of this.

"Afterward, I joined an online support group and discovered that my experience was nowhere near the most appalling when it came to terminating a wanted pregnancy; one woman was forced to terminate at a Catholic hospital, where the nurses openly judged her and refused to give her sufficient painkillers; another woman's clinic ran out of anesthesia the week she went in. I was comparatively lucky to discover my fetal abnormality so early and to have had a relatively easy procedure, but I'm still furious I had to travel out of state and that my usual doctor, whom I admire and trust, couldn't perform the procedure due to our ridiculous anti-science, anti-women state laws."

—Anonymous, 29

15. "I didn't want to know what it felt like to be pregnant yet, I wanted that to be a joyous moment, not one where I felt like I was an animal trapped in a corner needing to chew my own arm off to escape."

Jenny Chang / Via buzzfeed.com

"I was careful, I used protection and the morning-after pill. Both had failed me. I no longer felt in control of my own body. It had betrayed me. The first words out of my mouth were that I wanted an abortion. The nurse tried to calm me down and asked if I wanted to hear my options and I said no, I knew what my only real option was. I was a barista living on my own; I barely had enough money to take care of myself and my cat, let alone a child. I wasn't going to let a broken condom be the reason my entire life would change.

"I was honestly heartbroken. I had always wanted to get pregnant and be a mom. Now it felt like something that was forced onto me that I didn't want. I didn't want to know what it felt like to be pregnant yet, I wanted that to be a joyous moment, not one where I felt like I was an animal trapped in a corner needing to chew my own arm off to escape. If anyone ever asks me what the hardest part of the abortion was I say, 'Being pregnant for those three days.' Yes, I had been pregnant for about four weeks at this point. But those three days between finding out and getting the abortion were the absolute worst.

"I live in Washington state, where abortion services are very accessible. I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood and went in that next week. Because I was so early I was able to do the medical abortion on my own at home. The amazing nurse was so helpful and could see how scared I was. She did the ultrasound (required to see how far along I was), and she kept the volume on mute and I didn't have to see the ultrasound at all. She gave me the information about what I was going to do (with no judgment whatsoever), and helped me book an appointment to get an IUD two weeks later. I took the first pill in the clinic, with instructions to rest and take the second pill the next day when I was comfortable.

"After it was over, all I felt was relief. I was so goddamn relieved to not be pregnant anymore. It was over — I felt like I owned my own body again. It was a sad thing that had to happen, but it was the right thing. I don't know what my life would be like today if I didn't have the option to make that choice. I still have moments of sadness, but not because I regret having the abortion. I have never regretted it."

—Anonymous, 24

16. "What she didn't understand, given the predicament I was currently in, was that I actually identified as gay and that's why I had left my marriage."

"I was in my early twenties, and I had a 2-year-old at the time. I was newly divorced and had a night of vodka and poor judgment with a friend only to realize several weeks later I was pregnant.

"I never had a doubt it was the right thing for me. I walked in, had the procedure, and never looked back. Insurance paid for it. I was fortunate. The worst part of the whole ordeal was being scolded by the counselor at the clinic for not opting for an IUD after the procedure. What she didn't understand, given the predicament I was currently in, was that I actually identified as gay and that's why I had left my marriage.

"The procedure itself was uncomfortable but not incredibly painful. I ended up knowing one of the nurses that assisted and she asked if I wanted to see the sac; I said yes. It was interesting. I was 10–12 weeks and it looked like a jellyfish about the size of a quarter. Just a clump of cells. That's all it was and nothing more.

"I've never second-guessed my decision or wished for any other outcome. I was lucky to have access to the procedure and really lucky to have insurance cover it. I only tell my story when I think it can help someone. Not everyone wishes for 'what could have been.' Not everyone feels a 'loss.'

"Today, I'm happily married to my wife and we have two beautiful kids."

—LJ, 33

17. "I am terrified of how many other women are doing such dangerous acts if they are not allowed access to proper medical attention for this matter."

Leszekczerwonka / Getty Images

"I was 18 and fresh out of high school. In a state of depression, I turned to my friends for advice on what to do. Their response: 'party it out.' My boyfriend (now ex) loved the idea. He had me take a week off of work and drink all day every day. I thought I was going to die.

"Aside from how badly I damaged my body, it worked. I got my 'period' Christmas day. Thinking it was a normal period, I was happy. Two days later, I had the most painful miscarriage. I was devastated, and the fact that I had destroyed my body tore me up.

"I thought it was all over, but on New Year's Day I had to be rushed to the hospital, because I had woken up in a pool of blood so large, it had soaked through the mattress, and I was rushed into surgery. I am alive today thanks to that. I am terrified of how many other woman are doing such dangerous acts if they are not allowed access to proper medical attention for this matter."

—Anonymous, 25

18. "I had given birth a year prior and my husband became very sick that same year."

"I had a surgical abortion at age 29 at Planned Parenthood. I had given birth a year prior and my husband became very sick that same year. He passed away three years later. Planned Parenthood gave no judgements. They showed the required ultrasound and film of the pregnancy, allowed me to talk to a counselor and cry, and supported me through the entire process.

"There was no physical or financial way to provide for another child. I have never felt more relieved than when it was over and have no regrets about my decision to this day. I do mourn the loss of what could have been every time I look at my now 15-year-old. Regret, no. Guilt, some. Primarily, certainty that I made the correct decision for my family and myself.

"What stands out the most from that day, though, is the memory of the women who were waiting for their procedures taking the time to talk to each other and listen. Supportive women who were all in the same position coming from various circumstances. Strangers who cried and listened together. There wasn't a woman there who wasn't extremely grateful for a place like Planned Parenthood or anyone who treated the process as if it were no big deal."

—Anonymous, 43

19. "It was either I get the abortion, or he beats me to the point where I'd have a miscarriage."

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"I was so numb sitting in the waiting room. My face was expressionless and I had no thoughts. My mom was sitting next to me giving me a pep talk. She knew what I was going through. I had to get this abortion because my ex was beating the shit out of me almost every day. It was either I get the abortion, or he beats me to the point where I'd have a miscarriage. I didn't want to do it, but if I didn't, I would've been stuck with a man who hurts me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

"We got to the room and I immediately lay down. I just wanted it over with. The nurse connected this little glass bottle with some type of medicine to my IV. I recall screaming once but I can't remember the pain. My mom picked me up and was so supportive. I'm extremely thankful for her. It was very bittersweet. I still think about my unborn child. Was it a he or a she? I call it my angel."

—Anonymous, 20

20. "I went home and was swiftly kicked out, yet I wouldn't change a thing."

"I found out I was pregnant when I had just turned 16, so about five years ago. My parents were devout Muslims and could not fathom how I had become pregnant, as if their abstinence-centered approach to sex ed had done the job. Being very old-fashioned, they ordered me to keep the baby and threatened to kick me out if I did not comply.

"For me, however, the social stigma surrounding teen pregnancy was enough to convince me that this baby would come out one way or another. Not only that, the father was a boy I met at one of the few parties I had ever been to, and I was not in a relationship with him, much less would I be able to raise a child with him.

"So my best friend (a caring girl native to our South Carolina town) and I took a trip to Planned Parenthood after one of our final exams. It was quick and relatively painless, besides the cramps that ensued the day after. I went home and was swiftly kicked out, yet I wouldn't change a thing. I graduated 10th in my class and stayed with my best friend until we both left for college. This was my choice, and I want everyone to know that whatever you choose to do is OK. This is your body, your life, and maybe even the life of a future child."

—Supriti, 21

21. "Had I known about the morning-after pill I wouldn't have had the agony of waiting to test...then waiting to terminate."

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"The condom broke with my long-term boyfriend. I knew the instant it broke I was going to get pregnant. I can still see the date of my last period in my calendar book, realizing I was ovulating. Had I known about the morning-after pill I wouldn't have had the agony of waiting to test...then waiting to terminate.

"We talked about marriage, both knowing it wasn't right. I did the due diligence, researching everything I could find on the subject. I went to a clinic and it was stark, sad, and crowded so I instead went to a doctor on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was 1995 and I was 23. Just starting a career.

"I remember looking at the heartbeat on the monitor to punish myself. They shot me with Valium and the very stern nurse softened and grabbed my hand. I bucked on the table with such force it was as if my spirit was ripping out of me. I cried. My boyfriend gave me flowers. I bled for weeks. My heart broke. I was terribly depressed for over a year.

"It's been over 20 years and I think deep down I still hate myself for the decision. Though I know it was the right choice. I would have been a terrible parent. I am now a pretty damn good one. Months after the abortion I read about the morning-after pill in a magazine waiting to get my hair cut. I burst into tears. Why hadn't I known about that option?! I felt angry and helpless — much like I do now, staring down the barrel of a dark time for women in this country."

—Anonymous

22. "I really really wanted to keep this baby, it's probably the only thing I've ever prayed about, but my former partner wasn't supportive of that decision and I don't have the resources to be a single parent."

"It's been exactly two months since my termination. I chose to have a medical abortion at home, and I went to my local Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn. I did not have health insurance and ended up paying out of pocket (totaling around $700 for the procedure/prescriptions).

"I really, really wanted to keep this baby, it's probably the only thing I've ever prayed about, but my former partner wasn't supportive of that decision and I don't have the resources to be a single parent. In retrospect, I would have been raising a child who would have had an unstable father who didn't want to be a parent. I want to have children with a man who wants to be a parent, not someone who was forced to parent by circumstances.

"I feel when taking about abortion, women aren't allowed to speak about the sadness. It's more about the bravado of making the right decision and the focus of my body/my choice. But having an abortion was so heartbreaking for me. I was disappointed in myself for being in this position, frustrated that I didn't have a supportive partner and had to go through this on my own, and shameful that I couldn't talk to my family about this."

—Anonymous, 32

23. "This experience made me more pro-life than I could have ever imagined."

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

"My boyfriend was cheating on me and I found out I was pregnant, just a month shy of my college graduation. I had never considered myself pro-choice, but I knew there was no way in hell that I wanted to be connected to this jerk for the rest of my life. I made myself an appointment on May 4, 2004, at Planned Parenthood for the termination.

"The jerk was kind enough to drive me to my appointment and pay for it, but I had to count on my friends to pick me up after the procedure was over. That seemed to be what the medical staff cared about more than anything — how I was getting home. It wasn't my fragile, emotional state, general health, or any patient-related issues. They were also sweet enough to comment on my star sticker tan line and that my panties of choice that day were glittery.

"Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come after the fact. The waves of emotion, severe depression for years due to what I had done, the agonizing physical pain and quantities of blood and tissue that I would lose. There was no after-care or phone calls. No follow-up to see how I was doing. It was like being in a mill where they simply swept our little secrets under the rug and pretended like the problems never existed in the first place. I was loaded into my friend's car by a nurse who woke me by saying, 'You look just like an angel when you sleep,' and was handed a brown paper bag with antibiotics, instructions, and a year's supply of birth control.

"Twelve years later, I think about that unborn child nearly every day and wonder what he would be like. This experience made me more pro-life than I could have ever imagined."

—Anonymous, 35

24. "At the time we could not afford the care I needed to safely bring the baby to term, so we decided on terminating the pregnancy until we were more financially stable."

"I was 20 and dating my now-husband when I got pregnant. I have severe health problems and the pregnancy was high-risk. At the time we could not afford the care I needed to safely bring the baby to term, so we decided on terminating the pregnancy until we were more financially stable.

"It was the hardest decision we ever made because we really want children and were already incredibly attached to our baby. It took us a very long time to finally decide to terminate. I was 15 weeks when we finally made the call, but honestly it was for the best.

"If we had tried to continue with the pregnancy it was very likely that either myself or the baby would have died and the chance of us reproducing in the future could have been severely compromised. Ending a pregnancy is always hard but we had to make the best and safest decision for our family and our future."

—Anonymous, 23

25. "If there was any way I could have kept my child I would have. Those picketers are the real monsters in all of this."

Scott Olson / Getty Images

"I was 20 years old and in an extremely emotionally abusive relationship. He was ecstatic about the pregnancy for about a month. He then he got it in his head that I must be a prostitute, and tried to drive us into the lake.

"I used all the spare money I had and an emergency abortion charity to get the procedure. I wish I would have been in a healthy place so I could have had my baby, but it just wasn't an option. I didn't even have a safe place or support system to run to so I could have carried my baby to term.

"To make it worse, one of the anti-abortion picketers harassed me on my way in and out of the office. If there was any way I could have kept my child I would have. Those picketers are the real monsters in all of this."

—Kay, 28

26. "I realized I ruined my one chance at motherhood."

"I was 29 when I started dating this guy. We were pretty careful about using condoms when we had sex, except a couple of times. The first time we were lucky. The second time we were not. I found out I was pregnant four months into our relationship. I wanted to keep it, even though I was scared. But he convinced me that the timing wasn't right; we were still getting to know each other. I reluctantly agreed and we found a clinic near my home. I was six weeks, four days along when I had my first appointment. A week and a day later, I went back to the clinic to have the abortion.

"They put me in a small room and told me to undress and put my clothes in a bag they provided and to put a hospital gown on. I remember hearing vacuuming sounds and thought it was weird they were vacuuming in the middle of the day. It was much later I realized it was the suctioning, not vacuuming. They brought me into the room and began administering the anesthesia. I opted for the general as I didn't want to remember the details. I didn't want to be there, but I had been convinced that we'd eventually have a family.

"I found a great online support site and worked on accepting what I did and healing. For years, I felt mostly healed. He still acted like we'd have a family. We hit a rough patch and he finally confessed that he felt guilty for lying to me, because he never wanted kids and still doesn't. Now I'm trapped because I'm too old to start over in a new relationship and have a child. I can't afford to have one alone. My marriage is strained (understatement) and I realized I ruined my one chance at motherhood. All my healing down the drain. Not a day goes by that I don't think about it. I regret it completely."

—Anonymous, 41

27. "I had to make the choice between school and having a child, and I chose to finish school."

Charlotte Gomez / Via buzzfeed.com

"I had a medical abortion during my winter break from graduate school. I was a third year PhD candidate. I had a one-night stand, but this person was not a part of my life.

"At the time, I was working 60–70 hours a week and barely making ends meet. I decided to have a medical abortion after having a panic attack which led to me spending one night in the hospital. During the abortion, I coped with Netflix, chocolate, and wine. I spent three days in the bathroom in the tub or on the toilet. I almost passed out from the pain. I refused to take the prescribed pain medication.

"After two years, I feel that this decision was the best. I had to make the choice between school and having a child, and I chose to finish school. I am still not open about my abortion. I do not know if I ever will be. It is not accepted with my friends or family. But yet I would have been shunned for keeping the child and quitting school. I was at a loss. I made the decision that I was not ready to be a mother, financially or emotionally."

—Anonymous, 29

28. "The experience did tell me that I wanted to have a child eventually. And who I have that child with is equally as important."

"At 31 years old, I found myself pregnant for the first time after dating someone on and off for about three years. The truth was, I was more than ready to be able to have a child. I was certainly of age, my career was in a good place, and I was financially independent. But at that point, having a baby was something I never really considered. And if I was honest with myself, having a baby with him was definitely not a possibility.

"Our relationship was rocky at best from the beginning. He wasn't a bad person, he just wasn't the ideal person to have a baby with (or be in a relationship with). He never wanted children. He was in severe debt. And he didn't have the same commitment to family that I did. When I told him, he said, 'Get rid of it.' I knew it was something he didn't want, but the way he said it was hurtful and harsh. I felt guilty and considered keeping it. I'm not sure why. Ultimately, at nine weeks, I went into Planned Parenthood and asked for the abortion pill. Of course, I paid for it myself and went alone because he couldn't afford it nor could he be bothered to accompany me.

"Interestingly, I never felt guilty once I committed to the decision. And I haven't felt regret since. It was the right decision for me during that time in my life. I would never wish that on any woman — the burden of having to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. But the experience did tell me that I wanted to have a child eventually. And who I have that child with is equally as important. Four years later, I'm pregnant with my husband who is an amazing person. And I wouldn't change anything."

—Dee, 35

29. "It was weird seeing the little dot on the screen."

7postman / Getty Images

"I got pregnant my senior year of high school after a stupid night with a guy a few years older than me. I took the morning-after pill, but it didn't work. A month and a half later I found out I was pregnant. After a week of crying, talking to my friends, and hesitantly telling my mom, I scheduled my appointment.

"I had a medical abortion. I remember the ultrasound and the nurse asking me if I wanted to look at the screen. It was weird seeing the little dot on the screen. I took the first pills, drove home, and waited until the next day for the next dose. I felt like I was dying. Imagine the worst period of your life and multiply it by 100. I lay on the cold floor of my bathroom for three hours because I couldn't get comfortable anywhere else.

"I still get emotional about it sometimes now, four years later. But I knew I didn't want to raise a baby with a guy I wasn't with. I never would have met my boyfriend now or be in my junior year of college if I hadn't done it. I think it would've been a girl, and I still regret not being able to meet my first child..."

—Jordan, 21

30. "I am still after all these years looking to find complete peace with my decision, but I have learned that it might never come, and I accept that."

“I was 17. There were girls there who were casually talking about how many they’ve had, they were so mellow about it, one was even eating Taco Bell in the clinic while she waited to be called in. Meanwhile I was dying inside. Dying of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and every other emotion that we have been told to feel by society.

"The father did not care. He would tell me to keep it one day, and the next he was telling our friends it wasn’t his. His cousin even offered to ‘play soccer’ with me — in other words, he wanted to kick me in the stomach to cause a miscarriage. He begged me to abort because he was ‘in love’ with another girl at school. When I finally did it he claimed he had only begged to keep it and made me the villain of the story.

"I barely graduated high school. I was depressed for years. I graduated with my BA in 2015 and moved to NYC. I work at a great law firm in Midtown and love my life. Every now and then I think about everything we went through. Last I heard he was a complete pothead who works at a casino and sells weed on the side. I know I did the right thing, but the guilt has stayed with me. Some days it’s bad, some days it’s horrible, some days I feel nothing. I keep waiting for God to strike me with lightning. I am still after all these years looking to find complete peace with my decision, but I have learned that it might never come, and I accept that. Today I am happy.”

—Jaimie, 25

31. "What course of events had brought these people to the same fate as I?"

Solstock / Getty Images

"I had my abortion just after my 19th birthday. I had been partying and going crazy, doing drugs, and sleeping around. I started noticing strange things happening to my body and I hadn't had my period for a while but I was in such denial that by the time I went to my OB-GYN I was already 20 weeks pregnant. I made the decision immediately.

"Because I had taken so long to go to a doctor, I had to travel out of state almost four hours to have the operation. It was a two-day process. The first day, you went into the appointment and they insert these seaweed sticks into your cervix. They absorb moisture and stretch the cervix large enough for the operation. This was one of the most painful things I have ever gone through. The next day you came back and had the operation.

"Looking around the waiting room I could see other women, from all walks of life, going through this same pain, almost in concert. I remember an Indian woman and her husband sitting across from me. I realized that if this middle-aged woman could be here, this issue and the need for these services was so much bigger than me. I felt better about my decision. I was a millennial drunk who got knocked up; these people were not only from another culture but a completely different generation. They were married. What course of events had brought these people to the same fate as I? Whatever It was I can say that we all felt a major relief upon leaving that office."

—Erika, 28

32. "The ultrasound revealed that the fetus was still in my uterus but no longer had a heartbeat."

"I was 19 years old when I found out I was eight weeks pregnant. At the time I was playing college soccer and was about to start nursing school. My boyfriend had just signed to play basketball at a university in another state. I told my mom and I told her that I wasn't in any financial or emotional position to have a baby. She understood and was the one to call the women's health clinic for details on abortion.

"I live in a rural town and the nearest clinic was two hours away. The next day my mom and I drove up to the clinic where the doctor did blood work, an ultrasound, and explained the abortion process to me. He explained that I was within the window of time that allowed me to take two different pills to induce the abortion, but once I took the medication, I was required to follow through with the abortion due to the medication causing severe birth defects if they were ineffective. Per Arizona law, I had to wait 24 hours after seeing a medical professional to make my decision. So my mom and I drove home and the next morning we drove back up to the clinic where I received the medication.

"Two weeks later I went up to the clinic for a follow-up ultrasound to see if the medication had worked. The ultrasound revealed that the fetus was still in my uterus but no longer had a heartbeat. The doctor explained that this happens to only 1% of women who get abortions and that I needed to have a D&C which included dilating my cervix and manually removing the fetus. The procedure was painful, but successful. My insurance would not cover the cost of the abortion. I ended up having to use $1,000 from my student loan to pay for it.

"Fast-forward four years to the present: I am now a registered nurse working a full-time job and I'm still with my boyfriend. I always wonder what my life would have been like if I never had the abortion, but I've never once regretted it. I am now in a position to be able to support myself financially and a baby when I choose to do so."

—Anonymous, 22

33. "I had a transvaginal ultrasound, after which the technician said, 'You probably don't want to see it but it's a really great image,' indicating it was really clear or something?"

Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

"I was in an emotionally abusive relationship in college. I got pregnant and my boyfriend told me it was my problem and he didn't even want to hear about it. I knew abortion was my best and only option.

"Finding a provider was a little challenging (this was before the modern internet); one clinic I called tried to talk me out of the procedure. I hung up on her and cried for an hour. When I did end up finding a clinic that could provide me with an abortion, I was subjected to a transvaginal ultrasound, after which the technician said, 'You probably don't want to see it but it's a really great image,' indicating it was really clear or something? WTF.

"I was given the medication and sent home. I remember buying a single rose on my way back; it seemed respectful somehow. The procedure cost something like $600 (it was not covered by insurance). I was thankfully able to pay for it with only a couple of months of strict grocery budgeting and keeping my heat off (in New England, in November).

"I had several excruciating days alone (I never told anyone it was happening). I am not even sure how long the whole thing took. Then I went back to classes and acted like nothing had happened. I never once regretted my decision, but the stigma around abortion makes me feel very guilty for that. That guilt has led me to remain silent about my story. To this day no one but the abusive boyfriend knows it happened. I have never even told my husband. Through all this, I know it was the right choice for me. I am grateful that I was able to have an abortion with relative ease, and I believe that is the right of anyone with a uterus."

—Anonymous, 32

34. "When I got up to get dressed I glanced over at the screen, and my heart broke — I remembered the joy of seeing that first pic of my son five years prior.

"I had been dating my boyfriend for six months when I found out I was pregnant. I have a 5-year-old son with my ex-husband and my boyfriend has a 4-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. I was mad at myself for not being more careful. I was scared. I was embarrassed.

"Because of instabilities both financially and in the relationship I knew that moving forward with the pregnancy was not an option. My hours at work were being cut back, bills were piling up. At that point, I was not confident that my boyfriend could provide the fiscal, emotional, or mental support necessary to get through the pregnancy and (more importantly) raising the child once it was born. I have always been pro-choice with the caveat that there was 'no way I could ever personally have an abortion.' But here I was, 35 years old, pregnant, and making an appointment for the following day.

"When I got the sonogram to see how far along I was (just shy of six weeks), I specified that I did not wish to see the image. However, when I got up to get dressed I glanced over at the screen, and my heart broke — I remembered the joy of seeing that first pic of my son five years prior. Tears rushed to my eyes involuntarily, yet the gut feeling that I was making the right decision remained.

"The toll the abortion took physically was pretty expected — although it was several weeks before my hormones evened back out; I went through similar highs and lows as with postpartum depression after the birth of my son. The thing I wasn't prepared for was the emotional setback. Because I was so sure of my decision, I didn't anticipate having regrets, and the guilt has been overwhelming. I've found myself calculating what the due date would've been, welling up with tears at baby commercials and baby clothes in stores. I mostly feel that I'm a failure for not being in a better place in my life (more successful, etc.) to raise another child. It's also been really hard on the relationship. My boyfriend has suffered significant depression over it and we have both begun therapy.

"Every woman's abortion experience is different. And every woman will live with the choice they make for the rest of their lives. It is never easy."

—Angela, 35

35. "Sometimes in the middle of the night I ask myself what I will do or say if my daughter comes to me one day with that dreaded dilemma."

Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

"I was a 17-year-old high school student when I found out I was pregnant. I was a good girl, athlete, good grades, and had a steady boyfriend. I come from a deeply Catholic family — premarital sex and abortion was not condoned nor permitted. My boyfriend and I panicked, and the decision was made to abort our pregnancy.

"Since I had made the decision to drive myself, they were unable to give me anything for the pain. I was wide awake and aware for the whole thing. I felt that I deserved the pain, fear, and dirtiness I was feeling and so I welcomed it. I didn't want this to be easy. Afterward I spent some time in the recovery room and then drove myself home. The next day I was back at school and successfully covering up the fact that the day before I had gone through with a decision that has stayed with me the rest of my life. I never forgave myself and I never allowed myself to forget.

"I am an adult now and a parent. Sometimes in the middle of the night I ask myself what I will do or say if my daughter comes to me one day with that dreaded dilemma. What advice would I give her? In what direction would I guide her? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that I believe every woman has the right to make this decision for herself. Whether moral, religious, or legal — it is her decision and only hers. I believe there are consequences for our decisions and I know that I will answer for mine, to God. But right or wrong it should be ours to make."

—Anonymous

36. "Sometimes I still go back to that moment and question my decision, wondering how my life would've been different. Would I still have the two beautiful kids I have now? How would they interact with their sibling?"

"My boyfriend and I had only been dating about six months when I became pregnant. He first suggested abortion. We were 21 and 22 and still in college. I agreed, knowing we weren't ready financially, mentally, and emotionally to raise a child. I also selfishly didn't want to lose our new relationship.

"The procedure itself was quick. The worst part was watching them carry out the container of my now empty uterus. I was then put in a room with other girls with a heating pack to recover. I was sent on my way after showing them I wasn't bleeding. I spent about a total of three hours there. I went back to my friend's house with some moderate cramping but physically overall it was tolerable. Later that night I actually went out for drinks. I guess to numb the emotional pain.

"As the weeks passed after, the constant thoughts and regret became less. My boyfriend and I are still together, 10 years later, with two children. Sometimes I still go back to that moment and question my decision, wondering how my life would've been different. Would I still have the two beautiful kids I have now? How would they interact with their sibling? I try not to dwell on it long though because at that time it was the right choice for me. The story of my life, good and bad, abortion included, has made me stronger and brought me to the wonderful life I have now."

—K, 32

37. "The decision to abort was easy. I was a sad and scared college student with what I sensed was an alien in my body."

Sian Butcher / Via buzzfeed.com

"I was drugged and raped by a lot of men, apparently, at a college party. I didn't know it even happened until a friend of a friend told me. I didn't believe it until I realized I was pregnant and that couldn't have been possible at all.

"The decision to abort was easy. I was a sad and scared college student with what I sensed was an alien in my body. I took a cab to have the procedure done because I did not want to tell even one person. I had to have an escort home though so I couldn't have the procedure at that time. I called my sister at her nearby college and she made arrangements to come to me. I went back to the clinic and got in a white robe and on a gurney in a basement with a bunch of strangers. I was unfazed but I bet that looks like a horror movie. Those clinics should maybe look softer.

"The procedure was done quickly, and there was a cookie and 7up in the recovery room with the same strange women that I loved but never knew in white robes. I went to class the next day. I have a few hangups as a result of that party, none of them as a result of the abortion."

—Anonymous, 36

38. "Anyone who says that women use abortion as a form of birth control or do it for selfish reasons has obviously no clue of what the weight of the decision is."

"I had just turned 30 and I found myself pregnant after dating a man for only two months. I had just moved away from my entire support system to take a promotion. I took a home pregnancy test and it was positive; my stomach dropped and I cried myself to sleep. I am not the kind of person who makes rash decisions and I'm known for weighing all options before jumping. I knew that without my family's support, and the support of the baby's father and his family, I could not provide the life I wanted or had for my child.

"I let the baby's father know of my pregnancy and we agreed that an abortion was the best possible scenario. I visited my Planned Parenthood and held my head high as I went in for an information-gathering appointment. That's when I decided to have a medical abortion. I was driven to my appointment a week later, had an ultrasound, and I received my first dose of the medication; I cried the entire way home. That night after my second dose, I was overcome by my the pain and vomited over and over again. I begged my then-boyfriend to take me to the ER because the pain was so terrible. After several hours, the pain subsided and I finally fell asleep.

"I feel into a deep depression afterwards and had to be hospitalized for nine days; I had tried to commit suicide. Is my abortion something I regret? Absolutely. Was it the best choice at the time? Yes. Anyone who says that women use abortion as a form of birth control or do it for selfish reasons has obviously no clue of what the weight of the decision is. I did not make my decision lightly and it makes me sick to think that there are advocates for taking the choice away from women."

—Anonymous

39. "In the eyes of the law, my rape didn't happen. If that kind of policy had been in place when I was 14, I would have a 2-year-old child right now, and probably would've been kicked out and had to drop out of school."

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"I was raped when I was 14 and I was unlucky enough to get pregnant. I was not ready to be a mother, and certainly not the mother of a rapist's child. It wasn't a difficult choice for me, and at first I felt like there was something wrong with me, because on TV they always show this as being such a heart-wrenching choice, but I knew what I wanted. I don't think it's fair to expect women to attach so much emotion to what is essentially a bundle of cells, and if anyone ends up reading this, I want them to know it's okay if you don't feel guilt attached to the choice of having an abortion.

"I don't have a great relationship with my parents, and they're pretty old-school and religious, so at the time I didn't tell them about the rape or the abortion, since in California you don't need to tell your parents or get their permission to get an abortion. I went in with a close friend instead and I chose to use the abortion pill because it was cheaper and at the time I was only about six weeks pregnant. It ended up costing me around $780, because I live in a pretty expensive area, but it might be cheaper depending on where you live. I was able to pay this because I'm lucky enough to be from a fairly well-off family, and I had money saved up from birthdays and allowance (even with this, the abortion ended up draining all of my savings and I can't imagine how I would've paid if my family didn't have money).

"I think that Trump's ideas that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape is terrible. Speaking as someone who was raped, I never reported it to the police, so in the eyes of the law, my rape didn't happen. If that kind of policy had been in place when I was 14, I would have a 2-year-old child right now, and probably would've been kicked out and had to drop out of school. Instead, I'm getting straight A's in my junior year of high school and taking the time to go to therapy and learning to cope with what happened to me."

—Anonymous, 16

40. "Having a third abortion was embarrassing and took a very hard toll on my body and my mind."

"I've had three abortions. I had my first abortion at 20. I was not on the pill and found out I was pregnant at 12 weeks. This abortion was medically required, as the pregnancy was not viable. Fortunately, I live near a Planned Parenthood and was able to receive the proper ultrasounds prior to my abortion appointment and they accept my insurance.

"I immediately began taking the pill, but became pregnant again six months later. The second abortion was my decision. During this abortion, I chose to have an IUD inserted. This IUD worked for about a year and a half but fell out without my knowledge, and I became pregnant a third time with someone who I only began dating weeks before I found out. This abortion was my choice as well, and my partner supported me through the entire process.

"Having a third abortion was embarrassing and took a very hard toll on my body and my mind. I'm not proud of my experiences with abortion but if I did not have access to proper women's health care, I would not be in the stable place that I am today."

—Emily, 23

41. "I talked to my doctor. She felt terrible. Her best friend had had the same thing happen to her, with the same result. She hugged me while we both cried. It was only a little weird, since I wasn't wearing pants."

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"I am married, financially stable, and college educated. I got pregnant with the non-hormonal IUD. I almost didn't even take a test because I'd checked my strings, they were fine and how could I possibly be in the .04% that that happens to? But I was pregnant.

"We don't want kids. We had decided that before, but we still thought about it and discussed it. It just felt like an end to me. Like everything that I love about my life currently would end if I had kids.

"I talked to my doctor. She felt terrible. Her best friend had had the same thing happen to her, with the same result. She hugged me while we both cried. It was only a little weird, since I wasn't wearing pants.

"In my state, it's getting harder to obtain a safe and legal abortion. There are only two providers in a three-hour radius. They do not accept insurance. They have a list of prices and you can choose your level of pain management based on price. To me, that was horrifying. It really hit me that not only would lower-income rural women have to take time off work to drive into the city to visit the clinic, then stay overnight to have the procedure the next day or come back, but they could do it with just Advil to save money.

"The procedure itself only took about two minutes. It hurt quite a lot, but it didn't last long. Maybe I had it easy, but I didn't have a whole lot of cramping. The nurse escorted me to the recovery room and got me a couple cookies and a soda. I didn't feel anything but relief. I wish I wanted kids. I know there are so many people that struggle with infertility. Abortion was absolutely the right decision for me."

—Anonymous, 29

42. "I was supposed to go back for a checkup in two weeks to ensure all the tissue had been passed, but because the clinic was understaffed, they had to schedule my follow-up appointment for three weeks later."

"I was 25 and in a serious relationship but not ready for a child. I was lucky enough to catch the pregnancy early and make a quick decision, so I had my abortion at less than seven weeks. There was a single protester outside of the clinic. I had no second thoughts about my decision, but several of the other women in the clinic looked nervous. I opted for a medical abortion (the pill) since I was so early in the pregnancy.

"I was supposed to go back for a checkup in two weeks to ensure all the tissue had been passed, but because the clinic was understaffed, they had to schedule my follow-up appointment for three weeks later. Two weeks to the day after I had the abortion, I hemorrhaged. I went to the ER where I had to be given a blood transfusion. They called in a team and I had an emergency D&C at about 4 a.m. and woke up in the ICU just before 7 a.m.

"I would have died if I hadn't received such quick care, and I'm extremely grateful to the OB-GYN and the team of nurses. Despite the complications, I have never regretted terminating that pregnancy."

—Nina, 27

43. "As I was putting the pad on, I looked down and saw what I can only describe as the single most horrific sight."

"It has been a month since I had my abortion and it seems as if I will never stop bleeding. My boyfriend and I have been together for three and a half years, a year and a half of which were spent living apart. One month, I noticed I skipped my period and couldn't hold any food down to save my life. I took a test and to my surprise, it was positive! I say that because my periods have been irregular over periods of my life due to my battle with anorexia/bulimia.

"I don't have any children and we have talked about having children; we even have the names picked out. Still, when I told him, he wasn't as surprised or happy as I was. As my pregnancy went on, I became very depressed realizing that right now we aren't in a position to take care of a child and the constant throwing up had triggered my eating disorder once again. We discussed our options and he suggested abortion. My heart sank even though I understood his reasoning and knew we weren't ready for a child. We asked my mom for the money and she obliged. I went to the doctor and since I was a week shy of being 10 weeks, I had the option of a pill I took there and four pills I would take the following day.

"Within an hour, I experienced the worst cramps I have ever felt. When the crippling pain subsided enough, I got up to go to the bathroom and put a pad on. As I was putting the pad on, I looked down and saw what I can only describe as the single most horrific sight. I watched my fetus still in its sac fall out of me into the toilet. All I could do was scream and sob.

"All I have ever wanted was a child and the first time I got pregnant I wasn't in a stable place in my life to raise one. I've been very emotional since then and still bleeding. It has put a huge strain on my relationship and every day has been an emotional battle."

—Ally, 29

44. "Regardless of a wanted or unwanted pregnancy, abortion is between a doctor and a patient — not a patient and the government."

Sian Butcher / Via buzzfeed.com

"My husband and I planned to give our daughter a little brother or sister when she was about 5 months old. We were ecstatic when we got our positive pregnancy test. Everything was going great until we went in for our routine 12-week ultrasound. Our little baby had never developed a brain (ventriculomegaly is the medical term). This very wanted child had a 10% chance of making it to birth. If we did make it to birth, our sweet baby would suffer and die shortly after birth. My husband and I made the most compassionate choice we could and decided to end the pregnancy. I was not going to let my child suffer.

"My health insurance would not cover abortion under any circumstances, so a few days later I was on my way to Hope Clinic in Illinois. We went out of state to avoid the 72-hour waiting period in Missouri. When we got to the clinic there were protesters outside and escorts had to walk us in. One man yelled to me and my husband as we were entering the building: 'As soon as you walk into that room and open your legs, your womb becomes a war zone.'

"I remember wanting to die as I put my feet into the stirrups. I remember the numbing shot into the cervix and I remember the physical feeling of having my baby taken out of me. After that, I don't remember much except this unbearable pain in my chest and a lot of blood. And as I left, the same protester that greeted me when I first got there yelled, 'Where's your baby?! What happened to your baby?!' Those words have never stopped echoing in my head.

"Regardless of a wanted or unwanted pregnancy, abortion is between a doctor and a patient — not a patient and the government."

—Paige, 23

Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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