Dear women considering abortion,
I know there’s a lot going through your mind and heart right now. And I know there are lots of opinions out there about what you should do. When Madeleine Roe recently shared 20 Tips for Your First Abortion, she offered ways for you to (at times lightheartedly) cope with the reality of going through an abortion procedure. Here are my own tips, in no particular order, for you:1. Know that you are not alone. If your support system of family and friends have deserted you, know that there are workers and volunteers around the country who dedicate their time to walking with women during this critical time. You can connect with a center where there are people to support you by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.
2. There are many sources of information about abortion and pregnancy, but not all sources are created equal. You can view scientific-based information regarding your health and prenatal development at the Endowment for Human Development. Here are side effects and risks of abortion from the American Pregnancy Association, something to consider for any surgical procedure. Allow yourself to explore the reality of what is happening inside you, and what abortion does. Here are different types of procedures explained by the American Pregnancy Association.
3. You have time to be fully informed and educated decision. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you must make a decision quickly. Nobody should coerce you into making a decision. You have a lot of information to process, and many details to work out. You need time to talk to different people and look at the risks of each option.
4. Speaking of options, you have three: parenting, adoption, or abortion. Not all options are equal. Take a critical look and the pros and cons and consequences each option has for you and your baby. Parenting gives a child the gift of their biological parents, but sometimes the situation at home means it’s not the best environment for raising a child. In that case, making the courageous and sacrificial decision to give a child the gift of an adoptive family might be something to look into. You can reach out to organizations like this one to learn more about adoption.
5. Adoption might be the last thing on your mind and that’s okay. Any decision you make at this point will be hard on some level. And making the decision of adoption is not always the best decision for everyone. I know it might feel like a betrayal to your child to carry them and then give them to an adoptive family to love and raise. So know that I look up to biological moms who make the courageous and sacrificial choice of adoption. They give their babies an intact family when their situation makes parenting unrealistic. How courageous is that?
6. People do care about you, and this choice matters. Choosing what to do when you’re pregnant in a difficult situation takes time and support from other people. It will affect many lives, not just yours. So take time to lean on supportive people in your life, whether it’s your family or local people you found from #1.
7. Take care of yourself. Your life has drastically changed since getting that positive test. Whether this was planned or not, you’re now a mother! Contrary to what Madeleine suggested, binge drinking is not a great way to cope. Take some deep breaths and connect with people who can help. A massage might be a better option. Or treat yourself to a girl’s day and go get your nails done. Take a walk. Start a journal. Find a way to process your emotions in a constructive way instead of masking them.
8. Don’t assume the worst of your friends who are against abortion. Some of them might be jerks about it. If they are, they should read this to better understand what you could be going through. But anyone who truly cares about you and your baby will be there for you no matter what.
9. When weighing the prospect of raising a child during a difficult time, remember the joys of being a parent. Instead of just thinking about the snotty noses, costs of schooling, lost sleep, and inevitable back talk, remember the smiles and laughter of children. Think of holding your very own baby in your arms – the one you made sacrifices for to bring into the world. What an honor to be given this opportunity! So don’t don’t forget the costs. But also remember the benefits. Remember it’s worth it. Every person deserves to be loved in the way only you as a mother can love this baby.
10. Be honest with yourself and your support system. Parenting might seem ridiculously unrealistic to you. Say that. You might be scared as heck about adoption. Say that. You might only be considering abortion because it seems like your only option. That’s why it’s a good thing you have time to talk with other people and come to a conclusion. Get to the heart of why you’re considering abortion, and let’s see if there’s another way to solve that.
11. Science and technology are so advanced that you can actually see what’s going on inside you. But I bet you already knew that, because you’re smart. A heartbeat starts at around 21 days after conception, shortly after you found out you were pregnant. Isn’t science truly stunning?! Check out the Endowment for Human Development for an interactive prenatal development timeline.
12. In some states, you are required to be given the option of seeing your ultrasound. This is not a political agenda being forced at you, but science. There is a living embryo or fetus (depending on your stage of pregnancy) inside of you, and you deserve to know the facts. In fact, those are just scientific names referring to the little human that started off as a single cell. All that will change about them is their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency on you.
13. Pay attention to the little things. Does seeing babies inflict feelings of guilt or shame? Are you noticing families while you are out? There are so many emotions going on right now. Recognize them and own them. Little things matter as well as the big picture.
14. Some ordinary things will never feel the same. Whether it’s the metal bowl Madeleine mentioned or something else, many women will experience symptoms of PTSD after going through the sometimes scarring or traumatic experience of having an abortion. And that’s not just my opinion. Lots of women have shared their stories. You can go through all sorts of testimonies here.
15. Think long-term. Often times when parenting seems scary, it’s because your resources or support systems are limited. But depending on where you live, there should be resources to alleviate any difficulty you’re experiencing. Find a place by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.
16. The fact that we have articles telling us abortion is normal tells us it’s not normal. We don’t have articles giving us 20 tips for a hit and run or tips for your first rape. We intuitively know that some things don’t need to be justified.
17. Some abortion clinics could endanger your health. A couple summers ago, Planned Parenthood protested a bill that would make their clinics (where they perform surgical abortions) meet the same medical standards of ambulatory surgical centers. They didn’t want to be legally compelled to meet medical and safety standards. If I was having surgery, I’d want to be at a safe clinic. I don’t know about you.
18. If you end up going to an abortion clinic, there might be people on the sidewalk to support you. There might be rude people who yell at you too (and I would ignore them if I were you). But I’m talking about the nice ones. They have information about the best local resources. If I were there, I would have a flower for you and give you this letter I wrote.
19. This is a roller coaster. Stifling your emotions or refusing to confront the hardness of your situation won’t help. Allow your tears to fall. It’s okay to be mad and scared. It’s okay to not have everything perfectly figured out. That’s the beauty of people who love you. They’re there no matter what.
20. You deserve better than abortion. I’ve seen too many women hurt by abortion to consider for a moment that it’s just another routine medical procedure. You deserve to be loved by people who will see you through this. And you can do this. An unexpected pregnancy is that: unexpected. But people have gotten through the hardest of times and thrived. And you can too. Because you’re stronger than you think.
And if you haven’t found a support system yet, you can always contact me. I am more than happy to walk with you for those first scary steps and help you find that support system. You deserve only the best.