With the ongoing onslaught of laws limiting reproductive rights in America, its easy to forget that abortion is still incredibly common here. One in three U.S. women will have an abortion by age 45. As a reminder, New York magazine is featuring 26 abortion stories in its latest issue. "Abortion is part of our everyday experience," writes Meaghan Winter in an intro. Yet "even in doggedly liberal parts of the country, very few people talk openly about the experience."
That's a shame, because actual abortion stories highlight dimensions of the experience that politically-minded coverage (from both sides of the issue) misses. In the real stories, we see complexity — how having an abortion may be both good and bad for a woman or couple. The stories in New York are interesting and varied. Some are sad. Some of the women are older, while some are still in their teens. Some have had more than one abortion. Some have kids already, or will go on to have kids. Some regret the abortion and some do not. Many were bullied by protestors on their way into clinics.
"As their stories show, the experience of abortion in the United States in 2013 is vastly uneven," writes Winter.
It varies not just by state but also by culture, race, income, age, family; by whether a boyfriend offered a ride to the clinic or begged her not to go; by the compassion or callousness of the medical staff; by whether she took the pill alone at home or navigated protesters outside a clinic. Some feel so shamed that they will never tell their friends or family; others feel stronger for having gotten through the experience. The same woman can wake up one morning with regret, the next with relief — most have feelings too knotty for a picket sign. “There’s no room,” one woman told us, “to talk about being unsure.”
Many feminists and reproductive rights activists think support for abortion rights would be stronger if more women who'd had abortions told their stories. There are several ongoing projects devoted to telling real women's abortion stories, including the 1 in 3 Campaign and this collection from the Feminist Women's Health Center.