Please give yourself love and compassion if you are going through an abortion for any reason.

by Erin

March 15, 2018

photo by Niffer Calderwood

I have had four abortions. I didn’t talk to anyone about them for years.


I remember when Amelia Bonow started the first #ShoutYourAbortion zine and asked people to contribute. I was interested, but I definitely didn’t want to shout about my abortions. I didn’t want to talk about them at all. I had a lot of feelings about them, the main one being s h a m e. I never felt ashamed in a moral sense (and in fact was pretty relieved about them), but rather ashamed in a societal sense. I sensed that one abortion was more or less acceptable, but four? That would be like announcing to the world that you were a total f*ckup. And I didn’t want to deal with any judgements or moral policing. I just wanted to keep my head down and survive.

As I saw the #SYA movement grow and as I saw the debilitating effects of secrecy in other areas of my life, my feelings began to change. I read more abortion stories and saw how fear and shame contributed to unnecessary pain for others. I began to want to talk about my abortions. I began to feel ok about them. (I even thought that maybe it would make people feel better about their own abortions to know that at least they didn’t have FOUR. 🙂 ) I wanted other people who had abortions (many abortions, even!) to know that they were ok and deserved love and compassion. And I wanted love and compassion for myself, too. I also realized that my fear of being judged a failure or a f*ckup or low-class (whatever that means) were not real reasons to stay quiet, especially when I had the ability and privilege to speak. All those fears were imaginary, and they had to go.

My abortions were neither terribly difficult nor easy. They were just a part of my life as a person who had sex, who had a working reproductive system, and whose life was sometimes complicated. (Sounds like a lot of us.) I thought about including details about my abortions in this story. I thought about talking about the circumstances surrounding them and the men who were involved. I thought about talking about how the life I have now would have been wildly different, if not impossible, without abortion access. I thought about talking about how I don’t want to be a mother. I thought about talking about how much I love my nieces (so I must not be a “bad person” who hates children). But ultimately I don’t think any of these things are relevant. They feel like justifications, and I don’t believe justifications are necessary.  I simply made the choice that I thought was best for me at the time. I feel pretty different today than I did when I had my abortions. Today I feel stable, capable, and clearheaded – yet if I had an accidental pregnancy today, I would likely still opt for abortion.

It’s taken me a long time to talk about my own abortions with strength, grace, and honesty. It’s taken me a long time to define for myself what #ShoutYourAbortion is. I know some people equate shouting with joy, and find shouting about abortion to be abhorrent. I don’t agree – and in any case I think shouting for joy is wonderful, we need more of it. To me, shouting feels more like, “Hey world, this is what it’s like to be alive! This is what happened!” And what happens in life is not simple. It’s complex. It’s both joyful and painful, maybe even at the same time.

I hope our society progresses to the point where talking about abortion is a normal and accepted part of life, and we can choose whether to be private about it or not. I don’t think we can afford the luxury of privacy quite yet. We need to get rid of secrecy and shame first. Please give yourself love and compassion if you are going through an abortion for any reason. You deserve them. And you are not alone.

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