A tale of two abortions

by Katherine Kelly

March 13, 2019

I thought I knew about abortion. I was in a masters program to become a midwife, I could counsel clients on all forms of contraception—I knew about birth control, the menstrual cycle and health literacy. I had an IUD.  I was passionately pro abortion rights and cited my commitment to reproductive justice as a major motivator in my decision to persue a career in reproductive health. But I had never been pushed to explore my biases around abortion…who choses to have them and how they arrive at that choice. I knew my maternal grandmother had had one after having her kids, her telling of the story was matter of fact and confirmed for me that pregnant people are always the best judges of when to chose abortion for themselves and their families. I knew my mother was planning on having an abortion when she found out she was pregnant with me, but the next day my dad proposed and my origin story was saved.


I had had my IUD for over a year and was with a new partner for a few months, I found out I was pregnant the day before we were set to leave on a week long group vacation with his friends. I consulted the many midwives and NPs in my life who seemed to agree that it would be best to wait and terminate when I was back from vacation if that was my plan. I gravitated towards medication abortion as it would be the most intimate way to experience this decision at home with the least amount of medical intervention. So it was decided—I would be pregnant on vacation then take medication to terminate the pregnancy once back home. Vacation was out of body in many ways, I had no intention to share my truth with the group, and while my partner was well intentioned he was not able to hold space in the quiet ways I needed with all his friends around. I enjoyed the solitude of my choice, the bleeding at home by myself, the odd discomfort of crumbling assumptions to expose new truth. I thought I knew who got abortions…but I had failed to include myself in that group. I was over thirty feeling strongly that I wanted to start a family as soon as I found a partner to co-parent with, I was using an effective method of contraception and I was becoming a healthcare provider. I had failed to include myself, yet here I was, bleeding at home, feeling grateful to have options and sure about my decision—but sad to have to breakdown walls I helped build but also denied existed.


The second abortion was with the next IUD, same partner now six or so months later. I made the same decision, I had the same sense of knowing it was the right choice for me because it was the wrong time for us. My faith in this contraceptive method was shaken, my relationship was six months further along and my abortion biases less solid. I accepted the fluidity of my path, the interrelated nature of love, loss, biology, technology and future. I moved forward with a softened worldview—I met each new client with a more open ended approach, an approach now partly informed by the weight of personal experience. I will only walk my own path, my personal experience will always be limited…but I offer it up anyway. If it can be of service to someone else, I will offer it. Because we can combine our paths, and in this way we can weave together our truths into something whole, something complete where all that’s left to do is hold space.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!