About 1 in 10

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.

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11 thoughts on “About 1 in 10

  1. My husband and I terminated our baby at 16 weeks. We’ve mourned the loss of our daughter in secret as his Catholic family doesn’t know the details of how we lost her.
    Since the April 1st phone call where I was told “abnormal”, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride from hell of discovering that having a healthy baby will be highly unlikely as I have a chromosomal defect and will experience infertility and am now exhibiting symptoms of PCOS as well. At 28, we had planned to start our family.. But instead, we keep waiting. Holding our breath, trying to remain hopeful when the light continues to dim.

    Kaitlyn Rose is always on our minds. And we are still struggling with deciding to end the pregnancy. We aren’t murderers. We are two parents who were forced to make a decision that was about the quality of Kaitlyn’s life. And life is hard enough without being set up on a disadvantage before it even begins.

    I don’t regret my decision. I am angry that I was put in a position where I had to make the decision.

    The most comforting thing I’ve ever been told about this experience is still this: some babies are just too good for this world.

    And it concerns me when people debate the issue of pro-life vs pro-choice. I am pro-life, but that doesn’t always mean birth.

  2. Last year I made a choice that I still find difficult to contemplate. I am grateful for the stories shared here as I see many of my own thoughts and feelings reflected in them. I never thought I’d ever have to make such a choice. One thing I recognise now is that until I faced this decision I had never considered what continuing such a pregnancy would mean for the child. I had only ever considered my own feelings, would I love and care for a disabled/ill child? Absolutely. However, when faced with the reality of this dilemma, I felt unable to continue knowing what our son was likely to face. That decision is still very difficult for me to live with, I carry the burden of my sons death. On the darkest days uncertainty creeps from the shadows, and the doubts circle. Did I understand the information correctly? Was his prognosis sufficiently poor? Would he have survived/still be alive now? Was it really as bad as I feared? Will I ever make ‘peace’ with my decision?

  3. Thank you for this website. I was always very careful to not get pregnant before I wanted children. When my husband and I were ready, we were able to get pregnant quickly. Unfortunately, I’ve had to terminate 2 very wanted and very loved pregnancies – one at 12w and another at 14w. The first one was due to triploidy (incompatible with life, an entire extra set of chromosomes), and the second one was due to SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). My first daughter was born with SMA, and I had to watch her lose muscle function to where she wasn’t able to cough, eat, swallow, talk, sit up, kick, or grab things with her hands. My sweet baby died at almost 9 months of age. I refused to let another child suffer the way she did.

    I miss all of my children desperately, and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone. My insurance would not cover abortions, even though my children had a death sentence, so I had to pay out of pocket, and go to an “abortion clinic.” Everyone was very nice there, but it was so hard filling out paperwork that I had thought about adopting my children out and stating that I didn’t need birth control. My babies were so wanted, and are still so very loved.

  4. I’ve just read a couple of stories and found it especially heartbreaking to hear that some women in the US who have found themselves in the position of having to end a much wanted pregnancy are confronted by pro-life protesters on the day their baby is born. I live in the UK and love our national health service. I have been treated with nothing but compassion by the medical staff I’ve encountered these last few months when my son was diagnosed with a condition that led us to ending his life last week. When we made this agonising decision, I knew I wanted our son to have a dignified birth and – despite the crushing sadness of losing him – I had a beautiful, natural labour and delivery at 18wks. A wonderfully supportive midwife saw us through it and the NHS is paying for our little one’s cremation which we otherwise could not afford. I don’t live in a perfect country, mostly I’m critical of it, but this experience has made me even more thankful for what we have and I realise how lucky I am. I’m so sorry to hear about women in other countries (including places close to home like Ireland) having to suffer more because of ignorance, misunderstanding and lack of empathy. We mothers have ethics. We have morals and beliefs. And we love our children more than anything.

  5. You wonderful brave ladies… there aren’t enough thank you or respect or appreciation for what you have done for those who come after you. You’ve walked the walk and it’s ok.

  6. These stories are devastating to read. I have not had to go through such an experience, but when I was 12 I had a brother born who died after 2 days, and that was so hard for the whole family. I cannot imagine having to make the decision that these women have had to make. I felt compelled to read all of the stories as if they are strong enough to shard their stories, they deserve to have them read.

  7. I am also a woman, and mother, who had to have late term abortion. Even 7 years later I grieve for my son. I question my decision, I question everything. Thank you for these stories and letting me know that I am not alone, I am not a horrible person, and I am not crazy for the dual feelings I feel.

  8. Thank you for sharing your stories. I, too, had a late second term abortion. I’m a registered nurse who had coordinated care for the profoundly developmentally and physically disabled population that were being discharged into the community from state hospitals into high needs group homes in another state. We had a child I gave birth to at age 36, who was a toddler when we tried to conceive another child to complete our family. After one miscarriage and one missed abortion (miscarriage that isn’t expelled), we were expecting again. All the tests appeared normal until the amniocentesis. Because I was traveling out of state, the amniocentesis was postponed by a couple of weeks. We knew we were having a girl and had already given her a name. When I saw the ultrasound picture, I thought the face looked odd but I brushed it off to my not being an ultrasound technician and having no expertise in the area. We would have one boy and one girl and were thrilled. We were living in an area where we had little support, as our close friends and family were out of the area and we had to go out of town for the amniocentesis .

    I had the amniocentesis and was called on Labor Day with the news that I needed to come into the office the following day, as the results were grim: Trisomy 9. I had never even heard of that genetic anomaly. I didn’t have a babysitter, so asked a next door neighbor with a small child that I had some conversations with to watch our son, as we went to see a perinatologist in another town. The genetic counselor told us of the findings associated with the genetic anomaly: profound mental retardation, severe musculoskeletal abnormalities, facial abnormalities . Our baby had the worst expression of trisomy 9. We had a level III ultrasound that showed there was no separate pulmonary artery from the aorta of the heart – a grim prognosis and a large hole in the heart (common and easy to fix). Were we to carry to term, the child would die within a couple of minutes without being put on a heart/lung bypass machine. We elected to terminate upon seeing the extent of the abnormalities. I simply could not justify carrying to term to watch the child die and withhold treatment nor could I subject the child to repeated surgeries and a life on machines and in hospitals prior to death. A doctor in my town tried to clear his schedule to terminate the pregnancy but was unable to do so. He apologized over and over and couldn’t believe how calm I was, as the clock was ticking and my ability to have a legal termination soon to end. I was referred to a perinatologist in another town for the procedure, which was a two-day process involving laminaria, oral medication (cytotec) prior to the procedure. My new friend, a neighbor, watched my son during the procedure. We were told that the chance of having another abnormality such as this would be like being hit by lightening twice and to not let the situation deter us from trying to have another child.Two childhood friends told me I was killing my baby and God didn’t want that. I told them that they weren’t part of any equation in the situation, as the decision rested with my husband, myself, and our doctor and they weren’t authorized to speak for God. The day of the procedure, our church minister joined my husband and I at the hospital. We decided not to try and have any other children, as we had a healthy child at home and had suffered losses prior to this pregnancy. I have never regretted our decision. When my son was old enough to understand, he was told about what happened to his sister and why.

  9. Thank you for this blog. While I don’t have a personal “pony in the race” (I’m male), I still understand that health care is important, and later abortions are part of that health care. George Tiller died for that cause. The least I can do is to live for that cause

    • Thank you. So many men it seems don’t get the abortions are part of health care. I also faced a later abortion (18w6d) it was the saddest decision I ever had to make but had that decision been taken from me I would have watched my child die after birth. Something no one should be forced to do.

  10. Thank you so very much for this safe place for mothers to tell their difficult stories. I am a grandmother whose daughter has received a bleak diagnosis at 14 weeks. She is struggling with her feelings and fears. This is such a safe and helpful place. Thank you for the time and effort to make the stories available to readers.

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