This Mother’s Day, it's time to recognize and celebrate moms who have had abortions. Fifty-nine percent of the women who choose abortion already have one or more children. But when it comes to mainstream conversations about abortion, these moms often go unseen. The stories below represent the resilience of mothers who braved abortion stigma and legislative restrictions in order to do what was best for their families. On this special day, let's celebrate moms who have had abortions. They, too, should be uplifted and honored on Mother's Day.
Hakima P., 54. Photo courtesy of the P. Family
“I had an abortion, because I was single and already had two children. I had just gotten a good paying job with health benefits. I wanted to give my family a fighting chance, and having another baby would have erased all the progress I had made. I wanted to go forward, instead of backwards, for the sake of the children I already had."
“After the abortion, I went back to my life of being a single mother to the two children I already had. I could focus on caring for them, and providing a home for them. I could continue to work and earn my own way. The decision to have an abortion was a critical decision made at a critical juncture in my life. Doing so meant greater stability for myself and my children.”
“Mothering sometimes means making difficult decisions. My decision to have an abortion was one of the most difficult of my life. I made it, not because I didn't want the pregnancy, but because I had two small children dependent on me. For me, being a mother meant living up to my responsibilities and obligations to the children I already had.”
Katie G, 77. Photo courtesy of the G. Family
“After having borne three children and pregnant with another, I asked to have a tubal ligation performed at the time of delivery with the fourth. My obstetrician refused to give me the procedure, telling me that I was under 30 and thus too young and had to have FIVE children before I could have my tubes tied. I could not take birth control pills because of a circulation problem and other mechanical means of birth control were not effective for me.”
“I knew I couldn’t financially support another child, so a year later when I got pregnant again I decided to seek an abortion at a private clinic in Los Angeles. It was a clinic that police routinely broke into, trashed the equipment, and terrified the clients and staff. Naturally, that made me even more nervous. I was not happy to have to terminate a pregnancy, as you might imagine, but greatly relieved once it was done. It was a sad but necessary event for my family that ensured that I could continue to be the best mother for my children. I am deeply grateful for the staff and the support of others that made this service possible so long ago, when abortions were illegal in California —almost 50 years —but a dedicated few were willing to operate above board in a medically safe environment.”
Aimee S., 45. Photo by Soulayvanh Beisel
“When I got pregnant, I was in a tumultuous and abusive relationship. I was constantly trying to leave him. The second the pregnancy test turned positive I knew I wouldn't keep it. I was nowhere ready to be a parent, I had just finished college and working in my first paid job. As terrified as I was, if I wanted to leave the projects, generational poverty, and an abusive partner I knew I needed to wait for motherhood.”
“I scheduled for an abortion with an underground clinic because abortions are illegal in the Philippines. To my eternal gratitude , there are women helping women who understand the need to support our complicated decisions around our bodies, health and lives. They literally saved my life and made sure I had a safe, if secret, abortion.”
“Parenthood demands all of our faculties, all of our time, all of our resources. It's a relentless demand for the best of ourselves and matures us like no other process. I knew I wasn't ready then but that if I waited, I would one day. And because I waited, I was able to leave that man who was wrong for me and found a partner who re-defined what love, safety, and commitment mean. I was able to finish graduate studies and build a career I'm good at and feel fulfilled in. I'm an imperfect parent but because I waited, I can see I have more patience, I have more skills, I have more breathing space from having greater economic and emotional stability in my life.”
“Mother's Day is a reminder to me that mothering is an intentional act of nurturing others. More importantly, it demonstrates that our lives emanate from the decisions we make. Our imperfect world may not always respect our decisions, it may not even recognize our right to make them. Even though my country didn't recognize my human right to reproductive autonomy and sovereignty over my body, I knew I couldn't let all that shame, stigma and silence shape my life. Leading an intentional and authentic life where my family and I could thrive - not just survive, means I have to fight our sexist and patriarchal society to make these decisions for myself. And today I continue to be part of the struggle and movement for my own daughters and other people who are trying to make the best decisions they can, with what they have, for their own lives. I can do no less to honor those who came before me and helped me along my path.”
Nicole S., 38. Photo by Jourdain Quijas
“I had a late term abortion due to a fetal anomaly. It was one of the most difficult choices I’ve ever made, but it was a choice we made as a family. My abortion was heartbreaking. I have always wanted to be a mom. The weight of my grief was massive. “
“With the help of my wonderfully supportive husband, I picked myself up and we tried again. Now a large fibroid in my pelvis was making it difficult to conceive. I had surgery to remove it. After, I touched the new scar across my hips and thought, “This is just one sacrifice I’ll make as a mother.”
“I conceived quickly after the surgery but suffered a first trimester miscarriage. Down, but determined, I stayed the course. When I conceived again a few days shy of my 37th birthday, I made a commitment to be positive and stay centered. When my doctor pulled my daughter out of that same place across my hips, I closed my eyes memorizing the sound of her healthy cry. My abortion catalyzed transformative emotional growth. Today I aim to model for my daughter a strong, flexible woman who can overcome any obstacle when coming from a place of love.”
Gloria N., 53. Photo by Heather Knight
“When I first became pregnant I knew nothing about being a mother. The father suffered from mental illness and a drug addiction. Due to these circumstances, I was not spiritually and mentally ready to commit myself to motherhood the same way my mother did with me-- providing unconditional love and complete sacrifice.”
“I have since had a beautiful daughter, Jourdain, and having her at the right time in my life has allowed me to be the mother I want to be for her. I am now more mature, authentic, and honest with my responsibilities as an adult, and it has allowed me to pass these lessons on to my daughter.”
Nikia P., 37. Photo by Jenny Morgan
"I'm number six of fourteen children, four boys & ten girls. Access to family planning was limited for me. I didn't have insurance for most of my life. I visited the local healthcare clinic in my neighborhood to get my check-ups and birth control pills. For years, I struggled with birth control. I tried many different birth control pills as well as the patch and they all made me really nauseous. So much so that I could not function while taking them. I remember requesting an IUD from my gynecologist and was told I wasn't a candidate because I didn't have any children.
One evening I discovered that I had not had my period. I panicked & went out to purchase a pregnancy test. My partner was a struggling musician & he worked part-time repairing stringed instruments. Needless to say we had very little money for our basic necessities, and we both knew that we could not afford to take care of a another human being.
Growing up I watched my Mom struggle to raise us and sacrifice her dreams & desires for her children. I did not want to sacrifice my dreams to raise a baby. So as soon as I read the positive sign on the pregnancy test I knew that I did not want to continue the pregnancy. I made an appointment for an abortion & I was told that it would cost a little over $250. Even with the high cost, I made the tough decision to delay paying bills in order to afford the abortion care that I needed.
By having the access to the abortion care that I needed, I wasn't forced to bring a child into the world that I couldn't take care of. I have a daughter now and I understand now more than ever why my choice to have an abortion before was the best choice that I could have made for myself & the fetus. Parenthood is the most challenging job I've ever had. My child depends on me to supply her every need and to teach her everything she needs to know about life. I am much more mature, and emotionally and financially stable, and both our lives are better for it."