I’m going to be frank: I’m sick and tired of having to justify why we need to be able to get an abortion. I’m tired of the constant reasons we need to give and soul-baring we need to do to explain why abortion access is critical to living a full life with joy and dignity. I’m tired of conversations around what constitutes a “good” or “bad” abortion. I’m tired of the fact that the actual and nuanced experiences of people who have abortions are so often ignored by politicians. 

At its core, access to abortion actually is about taking care of ourselves, our communities, and the people we love. The media often paints abortion as a divisive political issue, but here’s the truth: abortion actually is an act of love, an act of compassion, an act of healing, and an act of selflessness. 

We should all be free to love — each other and ourselves. We should all be free to heal, whatever it takes. We should all be free to practice compassion, daily. We should all be free to learn how to self-preserve and be selfless and anywhere in between — without fear of judgement or shame.  

Conversations I’ve had with other activists in the social justice space have illuminated for me that we are all learning to recognize and live these values – dancing between self-preservation and selflessness, loving ourselves and loving others, healing ourselves before lending a hand to heal others, practicing compassion by letting harmful relationships go. Access to abortion encompasses all of this. 

In a recent study we commissioned, researchers delved into the feelings, factors, and influences that played into the decisions people make when faced with an unintended pregnancy. The study confirms that knowing and having access to all options is critical for people in decision-making. And really, having access to abortion is actually — at the end of the day — about each person’s ability to make the decision that is best for them, whatever their personal circumstance. Here are some quotes from that study from people who have had abortions that encompass what abortion actually is about. 

Abortion actually is love. 

“Both my decisions—the one to terminate and the later one to continue an unplanned pregnancy — were exactly what I needed to do for me. It was based on what I needed, not anybody else, and I accept both with positive feelings. Sometimes I felt bad about the decision to terminate, but I don’t know where I’d be otherwise. So in both cases, it was positive.”— 41 years old at the time of the interview; continued with most recent unplanned pregnancy 

Abortion actually is compassion.  

“One woman was surprised to learn she was pregnant when she had a son who had just turned 1 and had complex medical needs, and she quickly realized she could not afford daycare for two children. She said under different circumstances, she might have chosen to continue with the pregnancy, but she knew it was not the right decision for her at the time.” 

Abortion actually is healing.  

“I was already depressed and I was thinking, if I can’t overcome depression, how can I become a mother?” — 23 year old at the time of the interview; terminated most recent unplanned pregnancy 

Abortion actually is selfless.  

“I knew that if I had a baby, I’d be forced to depend on the father, but he wasn’t going to be of much help. He wasn’t going to allow me to pursue my education either. I kind of felt like if I had the baby, me and my baby would be stuck and there’d be pretty much no way out of it.” —28 years old at the time of the interview; terminated most recent unplanned pregnancy 

Abortion — and the people who have them — have been called a lot of things. If you’ve had an abortion or are thinking about getting an abortion, we see your love — for yourself and others, we see your healing and the healing of your communities, we see your self-preservation and your selflessness, we see your compassion, and we love you.  

To find out more, go to: www.nwlc.org/abortionrightsproject OR www.nwlc.org/abortionactually 

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