According to the non-profit Guttmacher Institute, approximately 90% of abortions in the United States are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The 10% of pregnancy interruptions that occur after 12 weeks are sometimes due to medical complications, either with the mother’s health or with the fetus’ health. Of the less than 2% of all abortions that happen after 20 weeks, many ARE due to medical reasons. Public support for abortion steadily declines after 12 weeks, and abortions after 20 weeks are highly criticized and misunderstood.
Although our numbers might be relatively small, as we represent only 1 in 10 of all abortions, our stories are powerful and need to be told. Due to the stigma and judgment that persists around abortion (even 40 years after its legalization), many women who undergo a later termination are fearful and hesitant to share their stories, not only with society in general, but sometimes even with their own close family members and friends. But the stigma will never be lifted if we continue to allow ourselves to be ostracized and treated as shameful outcasts.
At the root of the public criticism is a genuine misunderstanding and a lack of awareness of stories like ours. People mistakenly assume that it would never happen to someone like themselves. But the reality is that it CAN happen to someone like you. Birth defects are non-discriminatory. They don’t only happen to people who are unhealthy, or have a family history of birth defects. They don’t only happen in unwanted pregnancies. They don’t only happen to women of advanced maternal age. They happen randomly and unexpectedly.
Those of us who share our stories here are neither martyrs nor monsters. Our choices were between awful and terrible. We are parents who faced an agonizing choice, sought out as much information as possible before proceeding, and then made the most loving and selfless decision possible.
Sharing our stories here will cost us nothing, but remaining silent could cost everything.
If you have a personal story you would like to have included here, please send an e-mail to support [at] ourheartbreakingchoices [dot] com.