10 things you wanted to know about my abortion but were too afraid to ask.

I had an abortion this year, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

Abortions are common.

That's just a fact. Although we don't talk about it a lot publicly, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetimes.

But even though terminating a pregnancy is a fairly ordinary health decision, there's still a lot of misinformation out there about the procedure and women's own experiences — mostly because of the immense stigma that surrounds abortion.


A demonstrator at the Supreme Court during the landmark case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. Photo by Jordan Uhl/Flickr.

In many cases, women don't feel comfortable talking about their abortions because they don't want to be shamed or ridiculed.

I had an abortion this year, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

I wasn't ready to have a kid, I didn't want to be pregnant, and my partner fully supported my choice. Although sometimes people say terminating a pregnancy is "the hardest choice a woman can make," it was a fairly easy decision for me.

Now that it's over, though, I want to demystify the whole thing as much as I can. So here are 10 things you wanted to know about abortions but were too afraid to ask:

1. What was your abortion like?

I got my abortion on a Saturday morning at a clinic owned by an independent provider. When my boyfriend drove up to the clinic, there were protesters outside, but it was easy enough to ignore them. I was at the clinic for about five hours, but the procedure itself lasted only five minutes.

As soon as I got there, a nurse gave me pills to take — antibiotics, pills to soften my cervix, anti-nausea medication, a pain pill, and an oral sedation pill. I passed the next few hours reading, chatting with other patients, and nodding off in my chair (the sedation meds work, by the way).

When it was time for the actual procedure, I went into a normal-looking exam room. The nurse gave me IV sedation, which put me into a half-awake/half-asleep state.

Then the doctor inserted a thin tube into my uterus, which felt like a pinch, and turned on the aspiration machine to empty the contents of my uterus. I felt some pressure and pain. Then, before I knew it, it was over. I sat in a comfy recliner in the recovery room until my ride came.

2. How much did it hurt?

It hurt a little bit during the actual procedure, but it was nothing major (and definitely nothing compared to childbirth!). I had cramps on and off for the next few days, but they were no worse than period cramps.

3. How much did it cost?

Because I was only six weeks along, my abortion cost $550 — but that cost goes up for people who are farther along. I'm also lucky because I live a few miles away from my clinic, so my boyfriend just dropped me off. Lots of pregnant people have to travel hundreds of miles, find lodging, and miss work when they get an abortion.

For patients who can't afford their procedure, abortion funds provide grants to help cover the cost.

4. Why did you get a surgical abortion instead of taking the abortion pill?

Some people decide to take the abortion pill because then they can go home and miscarry in private. But I wanted to walk into the clinic pregnant and leave with all of it behind me. It's just a matter of preference.

5. Did you feel ashamed afterward?

I wondered if I would, but I didn't. I've been pro-choice for as long as I've known about abortion, and I felt comfortable with my decision. A lot of women do have complex feelings about their abortions, and that's OK too. But no one should have to feel ashamed for making a decision that is right for them. I hope that the more we talk about this, the less shame we'll all feel.

6. What was recovery like?

Honestly, it was a little annoying. For the week after the procedure, I bled as though I was on my period. And even though the cramps were mild, they weren't fun. Also, you can't put anything in your vagina or have sex for two to four weeks.

But it was also way better than healing from pregnancy and childbirth.

7. What surprised you the most about your experience?

The waiting room was a really friendly environment. Many of the other patients shared their stories of how they got there. Most were mothers already, and some had gotten an abortion before. It was comforting to be in a safe, open place with the other patients.

8. Did you tell your friends and family?

Yes to friends, no to family. I'm lucky because everyone who I told about my pregnancy and abortion was supportive.

9. Did you become depressed/become an alcoholic/get breast cancer? Are you infertile now?

No, no, no, and I'm pretty sure no. The idea that abortion causes mental health issues, breast cancer, or any physical side effect that isn't also a side effect of childbirth is patently false.

10. What was the worst part of the whole thing?

The worst part of my abortion wasn't the abortion; it was being pregnant. I didn't realize how much an unexpected pregnancy would affect my day-to-day life: I was exhausted, my breasts were sore, and my emotions were out of control. I imagine it might be a different experience for people who actually want to be pregnant, but it was a nightmare for me.

I've been an advocate for abortion access all of my adult life.

But after going through the experience of terminating a pregnancy myself, I feel an even stronger enthusiasm for this fight. Now it makes me even angrier to see politicians vilify women for the decisions they make about their own bodies. Because these are our unique bodies, and solutions aren't one-size-fits-all.

How can we keep fighting for this? I believe the first step is for us to keep talking about abortion publicly because there is power in sharing our experiences with the world.

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