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A Woman Wants To Tell You The 5 Most Surprising Things About Her Abortion

Set aside right or wrong just for a few moments. A woman wants to tell you her story.

A Woman Wants To Tell You The 5 Most Surprising Things About Her Abortion


I ate lunch alone at my desk before driving to the clinic for our appointment. In the two weeks since my husband and I found out at our 20-week sonogram that our fetus was abnormal, I’d barely left the house. My entire world collapsed. The baby I had loved since before he was conceived was deemed by doctors “incompatible with life.” My husband told me about a senator from Fort Worth who was filibustering HB-2, a series of restrictions on abortions in Texas that includes a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. I clicked on the live stream, afraid of what I’d see — afraid of anything that could make my reality more excruciating than it already was. Instead, I saw a "Legally Blonde"-esque powerhouse in pink sneakers and listened to her describe my exact situation. Seeing her stand there, so professional and composed as she spoke about what I was facing, was the single most consoling act I could have experienced in that moment.

The day after the abortion, I made a statement to my husband that would change my life even further: “I’m going to share our story.” Before having an abnormal fetus, I might not have understood why a woman would want or need to have an abortion after 20 weeks. It sounded lazy, careless, and selfish to me. But once I knew from traumatic personal experience that there can be loving reasons for a late-term abortion, I felt I couldn’t stay silent. I realized that if I had heard more people talking about this side of the issue before I went through it myself, I might have felt less alone — and I might have felt less humiliated to think that others might think me lazy, careless, or selfish, when the truth was that I wanted my baby more than anything. Like Senator Davis, who stood for me and all women, I decided to let people know how important it is to protect a woman’s right to choose. I started with a speech for TEDxSMU last October and then told my story for "Oral Fixation" — and I haven’t stopped.

After taking a deep breath and putting my truth out into the world, I was inundated with loving support. Friends have confided that they’ve had abortions, and now we are closer because I know something about them that hardly anyone else knows. Strangers who’ve read my story have reached out and thanked me for sharing. I’m developing friendships with a couple of women who’ve also gone through terminations due to fetal abnormalities. And then there’s the immediate reaction when I speak in public — men shaking my hand, thanking me for being brave enough to shed light on an issue they’ve struggled to understand; women hugging me, saying it’s a miracle I could talk about such pain in public when they’ve lived quietly with their own pain for years. Even the woman whose story Wendy Davis was telling when I clicked on the live stream reached out to me in solidarity. My story has brought awareness to the plight of so many who previously suffered in silence. And together we feel stronger and less isolated.

Every month, my husband and I co-produce a live storytelling series in Dallas called "Oral Fixation (An Obsession With True Life Tales)" that features regular folks reading aloud their true, personal stories on a theme. In the past, when I ran across a really tough or divisive issue, I’d detour around it, afraid to alienate my audience. But now, I am bolder. For example, our March show, “Elephant in the Room,” included the story of a man who at 14 years old narrowly avoided molestation and another of a suicide attempt due to childhood sexual abuse. I’ve worked with members of my community to share their stories of racism and dealing with disability. Perhaps because I’ve been so grateful not only for the positive response and support but also the healing I’ve experienced since sharing my story, I’m now fearless about talking about tough stuff. In fact, I've begun to understand that it is silence, far more than honesty, that we should fear. It is my greatest reward to witness the catharsis of sharing something long held inside and how it heals both the individual and the community who hears the story.

My husband and I had been married only four months when we conceived our baby, intentionally and with incredible joy. When we learned about the baby’s problems, we were on the same page instantly: We didn’t want to bring a child into this world to suffer. But we didn’t give up easily. We felt we owed it to the baby to find out as much as we could about his condition before making a decision about his life. My husband stood by my side, putting aside all professional obligations to be there at every sonogram and every test, and then he spent hours in the abortion clinic’s waiting room while I underwent three days of procedures. By the end, I felt for the first time that I trusted another human being with my life. The following months were heavy with crazy menstrual cycles, epic crying fits on the bathroom floor, and so much sadness for what could have been. It hasn’t been perfect, but over time we are learning how to be there for each other in our grief. We know now that our love can overcome any obstacle, and rather than feel like victims, we rejoice daily in our many blessings, such as the ability to try to get pregnant again. We help each other hold the belief that we did the best thing for our baby and that we will be parents someday. And every time we learn of a family or individual who has benefited from hearing our story, we feel our love for our lost soul deepen with the knowledge that he has left an incredible legacy.

Editor's Note: Like the idea of people sharing their experiences instead of getting caught up in the "wrong or right," "should or shouldn't" debate? Us too. Please consider sharing this if you think this approach is good for the world.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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