3 Real Women Tell Their Abortion Stories

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou

We're at the center of another national debate about whether the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood. One side's central argument is that the organization's central role is not abortion but women's health. The other side sees any federal involvement with an entity that also provides abortion to be too much.

What's often not discussed are the stories of real women and their reproductive choices — the complicated and personal roads that lead women to choose to have abortions in the first place. Today, we’re spotlighting three of those stories, in collaboration with the The Untold Stories Project, which organizes forums where women can share their experiences, with the aim of reducing the stigma around reproductive rights.

“Stigma can be attached to any personal reproductive experience that does not conform to a narrow ideal of gender, sexuality, parenting and family formation,” writes founder Steph Herold. “This may include abortion, post-partum depression, LGBT parenting, or transnational adoption. Though these reproductive experiences are diverse, each can be accompanied by feelings of isolation, judgment, and disconnection. The Untold Stories Project challenges stigma by bringing people together, across their experiences, in a conversation that fosters openness, curiosity and connection.”

This fall, the project released a book anthologizing women's stories, and here we’re featuring three excerpts.

The first story comes from a woman who had two abortions in her teenage years and struggled for the rest of her adult life with her feelings of shame, as well as the judgment of neighbors in the deep South. The second is a story of a young, married woman who ended her first pregnancy when a fetal condition put her own life at risk. The third tells a story of a young woman whose positive experiences with Planned Parenthood led her to become an abortion provider on her own.

Read more about the Untold Stories Project here.

This story was originally published on January 22, 2015.