Naomi's Story
Who decides?

I have read and listened to literally hundreds of women tell the story of their abortions. Sincerest thanx to the hosts of this site for giving women the opportunity to share their stories.

Too often women are expected to keep quiet or pretend about their feelings. I had an abortion and for a very long time was made to feel that my feelings were abnormal. I realize now, that my experience was very typical, that my reaction was absolutely normal.

It is very rare to hear a woman honestly say, "It was my choice - what I really wanted." Almost without exception, women say, "I had no choice - I didn't really want to but I had to." Is this the best a pro-choice society can offer?

I think it's great that women are finally speaking up and exposing the enormous pressure put on them (by other people and circumstances) to abort against their wishes.

I think it is also crucial for women to be warned that post abortion depression is not just a myth promoted by anti-abortionists. I had been reassured that I would not have emotional problems after the abortion. I heard that the only opposition to abortion was religious; since I was an atheist, I should never have a problem with it. I heard that the posters that pro-lifers showed were not really truthful representations of the fetus - which was just an unformed blob of tissue; so I wasn't bothered by them. I had not yet read or heard a single story of a woman who regretted having an abortion; so I wasn't worried.

But all the reassurances of those who defend abortion could not protect me from reality; the clinic staff couldn't follow me around the rest of my life carefully screening information so I wouldn't learn anything upsetting. They weren't there to warn me not to look at sonograms, not to check out certain books in the library. Eventually, I learned the truth about fetal development from neutral, reliable sources that I couldn't write off as anti-abortion propaganda or religious fanaticism.

Also, I was having problems getting and remaining pregnant. Several sources not affiliated with the anti-abortion movement informed me that the abortion I had was probably the cause of these problems. When doctors, nurse-midwives and childbirth educators (who were NOT opposed to abortion) were telling me about the many documented ways that abortion can cause problems with future pregnancies, how could I continue to deny it?

One pro-choice birthing clinic even told me that having had an abortion made me "high risk" and I would probably have to go to the hospital instead of being allowed to give birth in their birthing center. The three children I did eventually give birth to were all delivered by C-section. Even with lengthy labors and inductions, my cervix absolutely would not dilate at all! Again, several nurse-midwives, doctors, and childbirth educators informed me that sometimes the rapid, forced dilation of abortion during abortion (especially if you've never given birth - you're aborting your first pregnancy - and it's early in the pregnancy) can cause inflexible scar tissue to form on the cervix preventing normal dilation.

Also, during my first C-section, the doctor observed considerable scarring on the insides of my uterus. I was told that it was probably from the abortion and was most likely the cause of my many miscarriages. (Four of my five miscarriages occurred very early in the pregnancy and were caused by implantation problems - conception had occurred but there were problems with the placenta being able to attach to the uterine wall.)

In spite of years of hoping and planning for natural childbirth and a large family - my choices had been taken away: I could not have natural childbirth and will most likely not be able to have any more children.

Still, I was pro-choice and wanted (needed) so much to believe that I had been treated respectfully and honestly by the abortion clinic. I didn't blame anyone yet, I wasn't angry yet - just disappointed.

When post abortion trauma hit me a full decade after the abortion I was not prepared and absolutely stunned at its force. I was devastated, depressed, suicidal, angry and ashamed for a full six months. I had nightmares, couldn't cope with going out in public, and hated myself and everyone involved with the abortion. Anything I thought I could not have acquired or achieved if I had allowed my child to be born, I wanted to destroy: my marriage, my career, my home, my car; I even had to put my wedding pictures away for a while because I felt like tearing them all up.

Trustingly, I turned to pro-choice groups for help with my trauma. Even though I was still pro-choice and an atheist, I was laughed at and argued with. I was told that if I was having any regrets it was because I was not psychologically normal before the abortion! I was told it was just post-abortion hormones (the abortion had taken place ten years earlier!). In tears I called several pro-choice organizations and clinics, honestly seeking help. I was told that there was no such thing as post abortion regrets, I was called a liar, I was told there was no help available for me at all. The only "nice" response I got was a lady who said "I'm sorry" and then hung up. The last abortion clinic receptionist I talked to got furious and accused me of being an anti-abortionist pretending to have post abortion depression and threatened to report me to the police for "harassing" the clinic!

I was devastated. If I had a gun and did not have two small children to care for I know I would have ended it all right then. I didn't know who to turn to. I had not even told my husband yet what was upsetting me.

Luckily, I called a pro-life center and they referred me to post-abortion therapy (even though I told them I was pro-choice). I chose non-religious post-abortion therapy and eventually healed. But for a while my husband and some relatives were angry with me for admitting I never wanted the abortion. Cruelly, they subjected me to the very same comments and pressure which caused me to submit to the abortion in the first place ("reassuring" me that it was what I "had" to do) while insisting that it was all my idea and they never pressured me at all!

I strongly urge women to speak up and be honest - no matter who it pisses off! No more pretending that it's what we want or all our idea. It's bad enough others (who supposedly "love" us) impose their wishes on us without us also being expected to act like it's what we alone "chose."

July 1998

more stories -- share your story

Birth Control Comparison - alll methods Abortion Info from Feminist Women's Health CenterShare your story
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Feminist Abortion Clinics Real Life Abortion Stories from teens Questions and Answers


"Convinced that privacy and individual freedom are antagonistic to, rather than crucial ingredients of, morality in the modern world, Republican conservatives violated the sanctity of America's implicit moral rules by politicizing morality on the one hand and trivializing it on the other. As a consequence of the 1998 elections, we are unlikely to be witnessing anytime soon a return to the conservative Christian agenda that seemed so promising to its advocates, and so ominous to its opponents, just four years ago."
Alan Wolfe | SALON | Nov. 25, 1998