The media regularly shine a spotlight on the women who celebrate their abortions. But, at the same time, they ignore or overlook the women who mourn their abortions. They exist – even if their stories are all too often left untold.
Earlier in August, Newsweek published a story with the headline, “I Had an Abortion 15 Years Ago Today—It's Still the Best Decision I Ever Made.” The piece, written by abortion activist Renee Bracey Sherman, commemorated her 15th “abortionversary.” On Twitter, she thanked both Newsweek and senior editor Jenny Haward for “supporting” the piece. But something else happened on Twitter too: women began responding with their own abortion stories – stories of regret.
According to Bracey Sherman, she herself had no regrets.
“I was determined, and I knew an abortion was something I had to do to move forward,” she stressed. “It was—and still is—the best decision I ever made.”
After all, she said, her abortion jumpstarted her activist career. Among other things, she founded We Testify, a group that promotes “people who have abortions,” served as executive producer for a documentary on “women of color and nonbinary people who had abortions” and is a NARAL board member. For her efforts, she’s been showered with awards by the media and Planned Parenthood.
“I exist because of abortion,” she wrote in her Newsweek piece. She concluded, “The most important lesson I've learned in the 15 years since my abortion is that it's okay to love myself.”
Bracey Sherman is right that she is loveable – a unique, unrepeatable human person of inherent worth. The pro-life movement doesn’t dispute that. Instead, it acknowledges her life is valuable. Just like the lives of the unborn. Just like the life of her aborted child.
In response to Newsweek and Bracey Sherman, women who regret their abortions attempted to share that message.
One woman, named Kelly, agreed that “Vilifying & shaming are not good.”
“However, many women feeling guilt need to admit it to themselves, or they actually” suffer more, she wrote. “You'd be amazed how well we can hide it, even from ourselves.”
Sharing a video of her abortion testimony, Kelly admitted, “I, too, pretended for years it was a ‘good decision,’” she wrote. “Having repented, I share it in hopes to save a baby's life or help women heal & be honest with themselves.”
Another woman, named Robin, tweeted directly at the media outlet.
“Hey @Newsweek, Are you willing to interview a woman that regrets and grieves her abortion?” she asked. “I am ready to share.”
She shared a link to the group Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which strives to expose and heal the pain of abortion. With nearly 20,000 members, the organization publishes thousands of personal stories of abortion regret online.
Robin shared her story online too. Back in January, she tweeted about her abortion. She was 23 years old, she said, when she found out that her boyfriend had cheated on her – by leaving her with an STD.
“I sat there ugly crying and blurting out every angry and brokenhearted thing,” she typed. That’s when a Planned Parenthood provider “suggested I prevent pregnancy,” Robin remembered.
While Robin thought she was taking Plan B as a precaution, she ended up ingesting abortion pills. After the second pill, she became severely ill.
“Vomiting continued for > 12 hours,” she revealed. “I also began experiencing the worst cramps of my life (and I have Endometriosis). Within hours, I lost so much blood and giant clots.”
“The hemorrhaging lasted for 2 days and was so much worse than any period,” she added. “I thought I was dying.”
Afterwards, she “managed to shove the event to the dark parts of my mind where I never go.”
Seven years later, after giving birth to her daughter, Robin said she began “crying about the baby that may have been.” After more research, she realized that she hadn’t taken Plan B – and that Planned Parenthood had likely done a pregnancy test with her blood work.
“I had been duped,” she said. “I had been given RU486 with no informed consent, no acknowledgement of pregnancy, and no clue what I was doing to a baby I didn't know existed.”
“I will never stop regretting that day. I will never stop grieving my child,” she stressed. “I will never stop speaking out as a mother, women, and licensed mental health professional about the damaging trauma of abortion. I look forward to the day I will meet my loved child: Jotham Eli.”
Other women who regretted their abortions also chimed in on Twitter.
One named Carri stressed, “I had one in 1976.”
“Worst decision of my life,” she told Bracey Sherman. “As you get older and value life more, you will understand.”
Another woman declared, “I had one 45 years ago. I still regret it ever[y] single day!”
A mother shared, “I have a 15 year old son. When I found out I was pregnant it was not the most opportune time, but I love him with all my heart.”
One tweeter cautioned, “I had an abortion 44 years ago and it still haunts me to this day.”
“Will never forget it, will never forget the child I killed,” she wrote. “My only prayer is that God will grant me the gift of meeting my child one day in Heaven.”
These women’s stories – their voices – exist. If only the media would tell them too.