Every year, many women have to make a heartbreaking choice on terminating a pregnancy. The decision to terminate the pregnancy can be due to many reasons including a medical issue with the baby, a medical issue with the mother, or other personal reasons. The decision is never easy and it is one that most agonize over before making. This blog post will discuss the experiences of several different women and why they felt terminating their pregnancy was the best option. It will also share whether they got the support they needed and what they wish people knew about having to make this decision. These women represent different ages, races, and countries. The words below come directly from these women and have not been changed. I feel it is more powerful hearing the words directly from the people who have gone through this heartbreaking experience.
Women who choose to terminate a pregnancy for any reason often feel as though they cannot talk about their experiences for fear of being judged. Abortion and termination are such hot topic issues with people strongly standing on either side. This makes it hard for those who have actually terminated a pregnancy to feel as though they can be open about what is going on without being judged.
By the end of this post, my hope is that we will all gain a deeper understanding of the choice these women were faced with and the decision they felt they needed to make. These women suffered a loss and need to be able to grieve and speak about their experience. Some of these women are opening up about the experience for the first time ever.
Table of Contents
Reasons For Choosing Termination
- Our baby was diagnosed with anencephaly at 20 weeks. It is a severe birth defect where the baby’s brain, skull and scalp don’t fully form. It’s a type of neural tube defect (like spina bifida but more rare). It’s a ‘fetal anomaly’ and there’s no cure or anything they can do for the baby. The baby would either die in the womb, be stillborn or live only a few minutes after birth. In all scenarios, the baby wouldn’t survive and it would have been dangerous for me to carry to term. I needed to terminate the pregnancy because our poor baby girl was incompatible with life.
- I had no intention of terminating the pregnancy, I took a test with my partner and he looked at the test first and his response was ‘how are you going to get rid of that in lockdown’ and my world fell apart right there. I said well I don’t want to get rid of it, can we both have a think and talk about it maybe later.. it already wasn’t how I’d imagined finding out I was pregnant was going to be at all. We had an awkward tension and didn’t speak until that evening and when I brought it up my partner already has two children, both to his ex partner. He told me he didn’t want me to have the baby because it would get in the way of his current children, they’d feel left out and jealous and he just wanted to focus on them. I begged back and told him how could I ever leave his kids out, I’d make them feel so involved etc. So after long discussions and a week of asking him if he’d changed his mind he persisted that I get an abortion. I know many women will say it’s your body and your choice.. but I didn’t want a baby for having a baby’s sake, I wanted a family, a wanted baby, the fairytale where the partner is dead excited. I didn’t want to ruin my relationship and I felt like I really had no choice. It was at the beginning of lockdown too so I was so isolated and had no one to talk to. We’d gotten engaged two weeks before this so I just felt like I had no choice- he never asked me what I wanted. I cried and stayed in bed for days and days and tried to convince him, asked him a million times ‘are you sure’?.
- There was a blood clot inside of a cyst on the umbilical cord.
- Bilateral renal agenesis, discovered in week 21 due to lack of amniotic fluid.
- We found out that our baby had trisomy 13 (Patau’s syndrome) after scans at 10 and 12 weeks looked abnormal. They suspected trisomy 13 and the NIPT came back high risk for it, and later a CVS confirmed it. Some babies with trisomy 13 can survive after birth, but it’s not that common. Our baby had an extremely fast heart rate, high NT measurement, and hydrops. Because the baby looked to already be in distress (hydrops and a very high heart rate indicating heart failure), we decided termination a bit after 13 weeks was the most compassionate option for all of us.
- I feel like I need to provide the full context rather than a short answer to avoid being judged – and I fear I still will be judged. My pregnancy journey is not easy nor at the end. I first fell pregnant when I was 35yo, on the very first try. Unfortunately, 7 weeks later I lost my pregnancy symptoms and ultrasound revealed no heartbeat. My GP was away at the time and the replacement GP didn’t feel the need to even call me to explain what does that mean. Lucky my body naturally expelled the pregnancy 2 weeks later. The unfortunate circumstance for me is that I have a negative blood type and my husband is positive. Without going to the details of this, it simply means that each time I get any bleeding in pregnancy, I need to go to the hospital to get Anti-D injection. Only hospitals (usually emergencies) administer this, my GP or obstetrician cannot administer.
So not only I went through the grieving process of losing the pregnancy, I couldn’t even be at home, with my husband but instead I’m left in the emergency waiting room for hours until all urgent cases are dealt with. The Anti-D shot needs to be administered within 72 hours (I think) from the bleeding so they are usually not in rush. It took us about 1.5 years to fall pregnant again. I was so fearful of miscarriage that I didn’t get to enjoy the pregnancy at all. Saying that, I knew about the pregnancy for only about a week and a half when I suffered another miscarriage. Another heartbreak, another lonely night in the emergency waiting room during one of the most difficult times of my life. Another year later my doctor suggested fallopian tubes flush out. I was getting anxious about my age (38 at that point) so we agreed to try for 3 more months after that and then commence IVF. I fell pregnant just before my initial IVF appointment. This time, things felt different. I felt that the pregnancy was going to stick. I didn’t have the fear I had before. I had morning sickness (although usually in the evening), I felt sick but amazing.
When I reached 8 weeks, I booked myself for 10 week NIPT test. That night, I had a dream, or a nightmare: that the NIPT test result came and it was positive for Down Syndrome. Just before the test I had a quick ultrasound. I saw the baby, it was bouncing around really fast, it was having a bit of a disco in the belly. The second I looked at the monitor, I felt it was a girl. The sonographer was quiet, but I didn’t pay attention. The blood results usually come within 7-9 days. I got my call 3 days later. The blood sample returned positive for Down Syndrome. The person who delivered my result over the phone confirmed that in my case, the result is 99% correct. We booked for amnio-test which is a sample taken from the placenta to confirm – this was to be done 4 days later. My world shattered. I was searching the internet in hope to see if the result could be wrong. There were cases but very few, and nearly none in my age category. I couldn’t understand why, we had no family history. I now know age is the factor. Those 4 days were a blur. I was still sick from the pregnancy but I felt let down by my body. My extensive search and consultation from my family confirmed that if the baby gets to live to the birth, it will not live long nor the life I envisaged. Overall the pregnancy would be a very high risk for me, not only for the baby, but for my own life. The amnio test was difficult.
The doctor was very gentle and supportive, and I wanted him to be straight up with us. He told us that there are soft indications on the ultrasound confirming the diagnosis, and that the result will be delivered to my obstetrician. The results came and it was positive as feared. My obstetrician was incredibly supportive. I told him before (right as I fell pregnant) that we will not continue the pregnancy if NIPT test results come positive for any of the tested indicators. So the decision to terminate was not a surprise to him. He was incredibly supportive, and helped us by arranging the hospital immediately. It was a Thursday before a long weekend but he managed to get me to hospital for 6am Friday. I was 13 weeks at that time so time was an essence.
It has been 4 months since and I still wonder why me. I have a girlfriend who after a long-time trying fell pregnant at the exactly same time. I didn’t tell her about my pregnancy, as the first two miscarriages made me reluctant to share until things are stable. Now I’m glad I waited. It would not be fair to take away the joy of her pregnancy due to my loss. Every time I see her I can’t help but secretly grieve. Not for her pregnancy, but for the one I lost. I don’t regret the decision.
With my husband we made a decision long time ago that we will only have one child (and my age was a contributing factor to this decision, among several others), and if the NIPT test result comes positive for the tested indicators, we would terminate the pregnancy. I think it’s important to discuss this before a person falls pregnant. The pregnancy would be risk to the baby, and mainly, risk to me. The baby had very little chance of surviving the pregnancy due to my health history. If I suffered bleeding during pregnancy, and didn’t get to hospital early enough, my future pregnancies would be compromised (if not fully eliminated). My life would be at risk. This was hard but we both felt that was the only decision we could make. I switched the support off for the baby. As hard and heartbreaking it was, it had to be done, for the best of all three of us – the baby, my husband and myself. Before anyone jumps to any conclusion, please understand this was not an easy decision. We have no family support where we live (in Australia), and our families live across the world from us. Covid made things impossible for us to see anyone for years to come. Even if we moved over to our home country, the life of the child would be difficult. There is absolutely no support for people with Down Syndrome, and they are usually confined to social housing with no adequate support. There are no events, no work opportunity, no schooling. There is no life for anyone to exist with Down Syndrome. We don’t have other children who could look after him/her once we are gone.
- Assumed ectopic pregnancy based on the level of pain and lack of sack found despite blood test showing I was pregnant.
- Our pregnancy was diagnosed with Trisomy 13, a rare and devastating chromosomal abnormality, as well as hydrops which causes pockets of fluid that shouldn’t be present.
- We planned our pregnancy. We conceived naturally after about 6 months of trying. At the 12 weeks scan, the doctor noticed a number of problems with my bloodwork, my placenta, and my baby’s development, and recommended a CVS – chorionic villius sampling – to take a sample of the placenta for further testing. The CVS found my baby had a condition called Triploidy, where instead of inheriting 23 chromosomes from Mum, and 23 chromosomes from Dad, one of us had passed on a full extra set of chromosomes – either in the way the egg/sperm developed, or the egg was fertilized by two sperm. Triploidy isn’t particularly uncommon, they reckon it occurs in one in every 200 pregnancies or so. But it’s a chromosomal condition that is so ‘incompatible with life’ that most triploid babies are miscarried early.
Many of your followers who experienced miscarriage and were able to have their baby sent for genetic testing would have found they miscarried for this reason. The odds of my baby still being alive at 13 weeks gestation was more like 1 in 3500 pregnancies. I was told that the most likely outcome of pregnancy if we did nothing was that I would miscarry later in the pregnancy – there was only a 10% that I would carry to term, and doing so increased the risk of developing preeclampsia or requiring a cesarean.
I was aware that preeclampsia once increased the likelihood of developing it again, and previous cesareans increase risks to birthing naturally in the future. I’m still clinging to the dream of having four children, so I was really concerned about my future fertility. There’s also a high co-occurrence of partial molar pregnancies with Triploidy, and the medical team would have been very keen to monitor me for this possibility if I’d proceeded as well. And even then, if my child could beat the odds and be born alive at full term, the condition is still so severe that they would offer only palliative care and we would no doubt face neonatal death. In the end it all felt too overwhelming.
I couldn’t proceed with the pregnancy knowing that my baby would die. I imagined growing a bump and strangers wishing me congratulations and I imagined how devastating their words would be. I could draw out the pain and suffering for the next 12 months, or I could terminate. I would hurt unimaginably in the short term, and it did. But at least it would be over.
- Found out I had an ectopic pregnancy (baby was growing in the fallopian tubes versus the uterus) and continuing with the pregnancy would put my life at risk.
- I terminated my pregnancy after I was raped by my ex boyfriend and was contemplating suicide.
- My health began to deteriorate quickly, and they weren’t sure why. My kidney function was way off and I needed a diagnostic procedure that couldn’t be done during pregnancy.
- I was told by multiple doctors that my baby girl’s brain and facial structures did not form properly. A condition caused by trisomy 13, and so severe that she was “not compatible with life”.
- I was told at my 13 weeks that my baby had a neural tube defect called anencephaly. The baby would either die in the womb at a later date, would be stillborn, or would die within minutes of birth.
- Abusive Partner
- I was 19 at the time. My family is very big on what people will think . My parents were very strict. I was on and off with my then bf. The relationship was very toxic. I told him I was pregnant and well I always had mixed feelings about abortions. He didn’t think we should’ve had it. There was a lot going through my mind because a part of me did want to keep it while the other knew I wasn’t in a right place to bring a child into this world.
- Many reasons. My mental state, the state of my relationship with the other parent, my financial state, the state of the world, and also that I simply wasn’t willing to be a parent at that time in my life. I believe that, for myself, planned pregnancy would be best suited.
- I was young, no job, the guy was very toxic and said I either raise a baby alone or terminate the pregnancy he paid for everything out of pocket. At the time I thought it was the best option for me and that him giving me that option would make me hate him enough to leave him.
Do you feel your options were presented clearly to you?
- Not at all.
- I believe my options were very clearly presented to me.
- I honestly didn’t feel like my options were presented to me clearly .
- 100% also this was my choice from the moment I found out I was pregnant.
- Sort of… Although my OB presented options, he kept telling me they were a ‘pro-life practice’ so he didn’t come out and tell me to terminate (we changed OBs for our next pregnancy.). When we went to the MFM (maternal-fetal medicine doctor), she was more helpful in talking through the termination, sharing experiences of other patients she had, and overall being more sympathetic.
- I did not have any options aside from terminating the pregnancy.
- No, I don’t. I felt like I wasn’t seen as a human and things weren’t explained to me.
- From a medical perspective they were really good, I guess it’s heartbreaking still you have so sign a waiver that says if you pass the pregnancy in the hospital that the hospital have the right to cremate the remains. But yeah in the UK we are very very fortunate that medically we are given the choice. I don’t think any one pressed me about my decision or asked much about it they just assumed because I come, signed the papers work and took the tablets away that was my choice. I guess if someone had of asked do you want to have another week to think maybe I wouldn’t be writing this but that is not their fault at all.. I think things would have stayed the same.
- Not totally, but that’s because my condition was so rare there was no historical information or any stats. I was basically patient 0, so we had to make the decision we felt was best for us and for our baby.
- Yes , although I feel this could have been diagnosed earlier, on week 12 nuchal translucency, avoiding a lot of pain for the whole family. I have a 5 year old girl it was very sad with her.
- I do. Our doctor gave us the options of surgical or medical termination. I’m in the UK, and medical termination (i.e. giving birth) is preferred here. They say it is safer but, I think it’s because it’s less expensive. Which I understand. But I knew immediately that I would prefer surgical as I was already quite traumatized by the experience and wanted to be asleep for it. I received a little bit of pushback, but as soon as I said, “I am already traumatized. I know this is what’s right for me,” they got me booked in for a surgical within 2 days.
- Yes. Ultimately the decision fell on us. But all doctors were very open and answered as many questions as we posed at them. We consulted this with several doctors: the nurse who delivered the news to me over the phone, the doctor undertaking the amnio test, my obstetrician. Further nurses and anesthetist in hospital. I told my GP a week after the termination. She was shattered when she learned about it but told me straight up that that was the only option for us given my health history. I didn’t consult her before, we made the decision without her, but it was good to hear the very non-judgmental but honest opinion on the rightness of our decision.
- I feel that only one option was given to me. I was too out of it and in horrible pain that I didn’t even think about asking what else could be done.
- Yes. We were fortunate to be in a major east coast city with well-established medical centers. The MFM who initially diagnosed via ultrasound was more certain that the pregnancy wouldn’t survive regardless of what we decided to do. We were able to seek advice from a pediatric surgeon who operates on hydrops newborns & another MFM + geneticist before deciding what to do.
- As clearly as they could be, yes. They did tell me what going ahead with the pregnancy might look like. Then, when I decided to terminate, I had two options: surgical or medical. I know that not many women are given the choice, but for some reason I was. Maybe because I was early enough on, 13 weeks when decisions were being made, that either option was a possibility. I had a surgical termination – that was what I wanted at the time. I can’t remember clearly what contributed to my decision making, but I think it was mainly the D&C would be under anesthetic. I was already in so much emotional pain that I didn’t want to think about also going through the physical pain of delivery. I wanted someone to knock me out and get it over with.
- Yes and no. They knew I couldn’t have the procedure during pregnancy but didn’t know if my kidneys could sustain a pregnancy. One doctor admitted I could go into kidney failure but said, “I believe life is important” when I mentioned termination.
- I don’t feel I was given any options. My doctors all recommended termination. That was the only option I was given. And then they presented in the paperwork like it was my choice to terminate, when really I had no choice.
- Yes, the doctor made it seem like there really wasn’t an option unless I wanted to endure the pain of losing my baby regardless. But I will say, idk if this is a Texas thing or not, but my high risk doctor gave me a packet of paperwork with a bunch of numbers to abortion clinics for me to call. It was kind of like it was out of her hands at that point. I was shocked to see that they didn’t assist me with an abortion themselves since it was a medical concern.
Were you open with family and friends about terminating?
- I only told my best friend and till this day only her, him, and me know about it.
- I was open about it with certain family members and certain friends, just as I would be with any sort of delicate personal information.
- I didn’t tell any of my friends nor family. He only told his mom. She didn’t think we should’ve kept it either.
- Yes they were so supportive through it all & still are to this day.
- Yes. We were both open about having to terminate and the experience of having to go to an abortion clinic. I wanted to tell our story — many people (including me and my husband) were shocked to find out that terminating a pregnancy for a fetal anomaly in Texas would mean having to get an abortion at an abortion clinic. People tend to think that an abortion is for people that just don’t want their babies and it’s not as black and white as that.
- I did not talk to friends/family about having to terminate the pregnancy. It was more ‘I was given a chemo medication to dissolve the pregnancy” It sounded less harsh and sorta sugar coated the fact that I did terminate the pregnancy. The nurses at the hospital said I needed to be there for my 3 yo and that it would be very similar to a period and this was another explanation I gave friends/family.
- No. Nobody knew I even did terminate for years.
- Not at all, how could I tell anyone I was pregnant but getting rid of it because of my partner and want to care for his own children and not ours? I was too scared people would try and convince me not to be in the relationship because everything else was/is perfect just this situation shocked me to my core and changed my life forever. But I’ve never shared with my family. I have with a few friends but again scared of what they’ll say or think, how can anyone else comprehend what happened? It was like something out a film where everything changed within a split second- you know when someone says something, a phrase or sentence and you just know that nothing will ever take away what they just said. I’ve had only one person be really supportive but he is a therapist so has a good understanding of life not being easy and having people bring complex issues to him. He never judged me and had been really supportive. I really struggled mentally and was really depressed for a long time and didn’t tell anyone but I thought about ending my own life numerous times and he shared some amazing ideas with me- he said why don’t you get an object- buy an object anything you want and keep it and that will be the symbol of your baby. He said it can be a stone or an ornament or whatever you want, when you feel the times right you can get rid of it in a nice way like in the sea or something once you feel ‘healed’ or not- you can keep it forever. So I have a bird ornament in my display cabinet I bought, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it. No one knows what it means to me, but it’s my little bird.
- Most of the people close to me, yes. I do have one friend who is very pro life who I was afraid to share my story with, but after I did, she was incredibly compassionate and supportive. We need more people like her.
- Yes, although I am catholic I had no other choice and people understood with empathy, may be if I didn’t have my living daughter, I would have gone as far as my baby could, although we know that could be days or minutes, but it was too harmful for us and would have been very traumatic I think
- We were open with most of our family and some of our friends. I hadn’t told many people about the pregnancy due to a history of miscarriage. I was open about my past miscarriages but I just wasn’t ready to talk about a new pregnancy with anyone. Our termination was in July, and as I’ve been catching up with people over the past few months, I’ve told them about what happened. But I didn’t reach out to a lot of people at the time to tell them what was going on.
- We only shared the news of our pregnancy with our mums and my closest girlfriend. All of them supported our decision. I haven’t shared the story with others yet, mainly as Sydney is in lockdown and we have no opportunity to see friends. I will share the story later with more people, but not yet. My healing is not finished yet. I don’t want people to see my cry when I share the story. My girlfriend who is pregnant – we shared our infertility story together. I will tell her as soon as I can but not before she delivers her baby and I see she’s settled into motherhood. I don’t want her to feel guilt or feel fear to share her joys with me.
- No, I have only share this with less than 10 people, if even that. Most know I lost my pregnancy but not how.
- Yes. We had told almost everyone we were expecting – I wasn’t diagnosed until almost 14 weeks, so we had to tell people anyway that the pregnancy wouldn’t continue. So we chose to be honest as to why. I’ve always been a proponent of a woman’s right to choose, so when I realized that if I lived in some states in the US I’d have to carry to term or to miscarriage, I immediately knew I had to speak up about my story.
- I actually was. I told my parents and siblings straight away what was happening. My Mom had always been pretty anti-abortion, actually. She doesn’t really fit the mold of someone who is ‘pro-life’ in that she does support welfare reform, BLM, universal healthcare and other ‘progressive’ policies. I honestly don’t think she really knew what to do with me. I’m in Sydney, Australia, and she’s in a different country. She tried putting me in touch with someone who had been told to terminate and now has a healthy child, but I didn’t really want that, which she got. My Dad has been really supportive, they live locally to me though this all happened during lockdown so we tried to see each other within the parameters of the rules.
Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to has been really supportive, actually – my boss and colleagues, as well as family and friends. I received flowers and prepped meals and care packages and I’m really glad I hadn’t kept the pregnancy a secret from them the whole time. When I found out I was pregnant, I was talking with one of the first friends I told about when/whether to share our news. She gave me the best advice which was ‘share with those who you would tell about a miscarriage’ and she was absolutely right. Those are the people who I care about the most, and who care about me the most, and they’ve been really really supportive. Apart from my close circle, though, I haven’t been open on my personal Facebook and I think that is because I worry what others will think of me.
- Not at the time. I only told a couple of family members.
- I shared with close family and friends first. Those people got all of the details. Then I later shared some details on social media about having a D&C, but refused to call it a termination.
- Yes, they were aware of what was going on.
Did you receive support after termination? (From family, friends, doctors, etc)
- No support at all. Went through it all alone.
- I received very little support, mainly from close friends. None from work, none from the other parent, and not very much from doctors.
- His mom was very supportive after. he just kept blaming me for it. That I messed him up by going through with it. That he had no say but it was him that wanted me to have the abortion, more than me.
- From family, friends, doctors, etc. Amazing help from everyone 100% they were all great help from the moment I found out.
- Family and friends, yes, but because of COVID, it was not the type of support that I would have liked or needed.
- Sadly, none. I did receive mail from the hospital to “register my baby,” “schedule the baby’s first doctor visit” mail. It was a very harsh reminder that I came home empty handed.
- No. I dealt with it all alone. It was very much a secret.
- The drs have never contacted me again about it which is quite sad, I actually had a positive pregnancy test result after the termination, so I had to go to the hospital for an internal inspection but no one ever asked how I was or how I was feeling afterwards. I did however reach out for independent counselling which I paid for, I seen her for about six months and that was really helpful- not at first but she aided me have really difficult conversations with my partner about what had happened and how we could move forward because I felt so much resentment and every time we had his children over I just absolutely hated it.
I found myself really jealous of his ex partner- like why her and not me? Why would he make me kill my baby and go through the worst experience of my life but he let her have two babies with him? I was so jealous of the fact he has already touched a pregnant belly, seen all the process, seen the birth and then that no matter what.. I’ll never be as special as her, she gave him his first baby- his first time. So whether we never have kids or we have one in the future, it just won’t be the same, I resented him so much for that and still do to some degree only now I feel like I have more control over the negative thoughts so counselling was really helpful. But it’s absolutely a journey and not an over night fix, some days were really tough. I remember this one day I just couldn’t stop crying all day, I gave myself the worst headache, it was about six months after.
It sounds strange but can you even get post natal depression after an abortion? Whatever it was I felt horrible, I just couldn’t pick myself up off the floor. Every time my step kids come to stay with us I would be so mad, I really didn’t enjoy their company- I felt like they reminded me of everything he’d already been though. The kids would bring things to the house too like once they brought a baby picture of both the kids together into my house and I just felt so so sick and resentful- crazy right but it really hurt me because all I wanted was MY baby.
- From family, friends, doctors, etc. SO much support from friends and family. Not any support from doctors, to be honest. They never called me to follow up or see how I was doing. But, my friends and family were incredibly supportive – at least initially. After a couple weeks, everyone goes back to their lives, but unfortunately we still have to carry this heavy grief around with us everywhere we go.
- From family, friends, doctors, etc. Kind of, we had a psychology at the hospital, then family was there 100%, however this lasted for the 1st month, then nobody wants to bring up the word again, which hurts.
- Our family and friends who we told were very supportive. We were lucky that people understood this was really the only choice we could make. Unfortunately there’s not much support built into the system in the UK after you have a TFMR. I was very, very lucky that my GP advocated for me and was willing to try to get me therapy and an appointment with the recurrent miscarriage clinic (due to the past miscarriages and then the TFMR) at our local hospital. But this isn’t necessarily standard and it took her months to get me that referral because I didn’t technically qualify under the standard rules.
- Not really, certainly not enough. My only girlfriend who knows about it is senseless and very insensitive when it comes to pregnancy loss. I don’t blame her, it’s usually people who go through miscarriage that know what to say and what to avoid saying. I still love her, she’s my closest friend but I cannot expect support from someone who has never had to grieve a loss of pregnancy. I guess with the lockdowns preventing us to talk to people in person, or even seeing others, the only help available to me is by demand. I know I need help but I’m not strong enough to go and seek it myself.
- Not at all. I felt very, very, very alone and in a bad place!
- Yes, an immense amount. I had outreach from so many people who went though it too. Even the conservative friends and family seemed to give me a “pass” because of the diagnosis… which I have my own feelings about, but I was relieved to not have that dynamic to deal with.
- As above, yes, family and friends were great. Follow up support from medicine was pretty lacking. I had prolonged bleeding after the procedure and just had to keep calling the hospital for them to give me any sort of help or support. Eventually it resolved on its own.
- Family, yes. Doctors, no.
- It’s hard to say. I had so many people say, I’m here if you need anything, but honestly, I had no idea what I needed afterwards. I felt so alone, but didn’t want to have people come over just to watch me cry. All I wanted to do was cry, but I also felt like I had to hide my grief so that other people were more comfortable. I especially didn’t want my husband to see my grief, because I didn’t want to make things worse for him. The people I felt supported by the most were the couple of friends that came by the house with flowers and food. I definitely didn’t feel supported by my doctors afterwards. I began having severe anxiety and insomnia after my TFMR. When I reached out for help from my OB at my follow up appointment, I felt I didn’t get any help. She didn’t listen to what I was saying and just prescribed an antidepressant. I definitely wasn’t depressed, I was grieving and struggling with the physical symptoms of anxiety.
- After the termination not really from the doctor, more so beforehand. Family and friends were supportive after the termination as well.
What do you want people to know about this issue?
- I want people to know that it’s okay to choose what you think is best for yourself. I also want people to know that you’re not wrong for feeling happy about it, sad about it, or even regretting it. Most importantly, learn from your experience, no matter what it is.
- It’s a very big controversial topic. We didn’t plan this to happen, I was on birth control. We were both very young with not even a steady job to bring a child into this world. We weren’t even really together at the time. Many people have other reasons, but abortion should be an option for women because sometimes one gets pregnant from traumatic events that are out of there control, like rape.
- I don’t want anyone to be ashamed or think this is cruelty this is our bodies & with the situation I was in I did not want to bring my unborn baby into this world especially into an abusive relationship.
- Abortion isn’t black and white. In TX, having to terminate for a fetal anomaly has to be done at an abortion clinic which is currently banned. If the ban had been in place last year, I would have had to travel to New Mexico to terminate my pregnancy. We need to fight against the legislation and government officials taking away our rights as women. Nothing could have been done to prevent our baby’s birth defect, but we could have found out about it sooner. Go with your instinct — if you want to see your baby on a scan but your OB says it’s not necessary, stand up for yourself. Pregnancy termination shouldn’t be taboo and there are many reasons why a woman might choose to do so.
- I did not have options, terminating the pregnancy was the only “choice” I had. It hurts just as much as a miscarriage/loss. I feel guilty for having to “choose” this option and that my body failed to do what it was supposed to do. It’s very common and many women don’t have the same “luck” as I did because they may have to have one fallopian tube removed.
- I want people to know that it’s not something people go in “wanting.” It’s a very heartbreaking decision and thing to go through. I want people to know that is painful, mentally and physically. No one goes into something like that ‘wanting’ to do it. Yes it’s our choice- but you still have to go through a horrendous process. It’s okay pointing blame and saying things like ‘you should of wore a condom’ but people need to realize that I didn’t grow up with any intention of having an endured miscarriage. I cried through the whole process, I can’t even put into words about how horrific it is. Judging people instead of understanding that they lost a baby is really heartbreaking and means that we feel even worse about it. It stops us reaching out, stops us being able to grieve and talk about our baby, our pregnancy experience.
Warning this part may be a little too graphic for some people. I want people to know a couple of things about when your pregnancy passes- it’s just the same process your body goes through for a miscarriage. You basically start getting ‘labour pains’, contraction pains that are really strong and painful, this lasts a good few hours, in my case almost six hours. You can literally time them almost as if in labour. When your pregnancy is passing you feel an urge to wee and then feel that you have to push a tiny bit harder than you would if you were having a wee.. then your baby comes out. I sat crying my eyes out with this ball of cells in my hand, that you can clearly see what is what. Don’t get me wrong there is no visible baby but you can see that this isn’t a period you can see different parts to everything. It’s absolutely traumatic. Meanwhile my partner didn’t have to go through any of this, he didn’t see what I seen, he didn’t feel what I felt, he didn’t cry like I balled. It was the most scarring and vile process ever. So please don’t judge people who’ve had an abortion, to me they suffered immense loss, they still felt and seen everything that someone miscarrying seen. And somehow we are expected to pick ourselves up of the bathroom floor pouring with blood, pain, anger, loss and devastation.. and pretend that nothing happened because society will point the finger and call me a bad person. Believe me, I don’t need anyone to point the finger at me to make me feel like a bad person, my brains got that covered myself.
- This issue is not black and white. There is a lot of gray area that people don’t know about or choose not to educate themselves on. This “decision,” and I put that in quotes because it definitely did not feel like a decision, is one of the hardest ones people have to make. Our baby boy was so wanted. We tried for him for a year and a half and went through multiple rounds of fertility treatments to get him. This was not for a lack of love. In fact, quite the opposite. This decision was made entirely out of love. We wanted our baby to have peace instead of a short life, if any, of pain and suffering. This decision will live with us for the rest of our lives and we will miss our baby every single day. But we did what we felt was best for him.
- That is really painful, and that talking is the best therapy, so please understand that although it may be uncomfortable, it is necessary and healing to include the unborn baby as part of the family.
- Ending a wanted pregnancy is one of those choices you never imagine you might have to make. I had been through miscarriage before my TFMR and never thought I would consider ending a pregnancy on purpose even for a second. It is easy to say “we would never do anything with the results of our NIPT so we’re not getting it.” But when you go to your first scan and they immediately know something is wrong, everything changes. When your baby is sick and going to die no matter what you do, sometimes termination is the only option that makes sense.
- It is really more common than you think. And it really can happen to anyone – yes, even you.
- That no one who wants their baby wakes up and wants to terminate their life. Its the worst choice any parent has to make, especially if it feels you are choosing to terminate your baby’s life for yours.
- That no one should be forced to carry a pregnancy that will not survive. It’s cruel and inhumane. And that many women have had to go through this, so sharing a story may help someone else.
- This is tricky to answer. One thing I’m conscious of is how privileged I am and have been through this process. I live in a capital city, so I could access the procedure at my local hospital. Many women travel for hours to my local hospital for similar procedures, but when I walked out of that hospital feeling broken, I was fifteen minutes away from my home and my safe place. I didn’t have to fork out for a hotel or travel time. I live in a state that (albeit recently) has decriminalized abortion, so the procedure was legal. And I live in a country with Universal Healthcare, and this procedure was covered by our Medicare system. I want that for every woman. And, I don’t want there to be a moral hierarchy when it comes to Abortion. I am that fringe case, that woman that you turn to in the debate and say “okay but what if this happened” and the person who is anti-abortion might stop and think about people like me. They might concede that the law should make exemptions on my behalf. But I wish this wasn’t a debate at all. If you terminated your pregnancy because your contraception failed, or because you were in a DV relationship, or because you were financially struggling, or because you’d just been promoted to your dream job, or because you’ve already completed your family, or for any reason at all, you’re still making the best decision for you and your family. You are allowed to grieve the child that could have been, if you want. Or you can feel relieved that your life will now continue unchanged. There is no normal. And no one ever truly wants an abortion, in any circumstance.
- No woman WANTS this option and many are left with emotional pain. Its very hard emotionally.
- I want people to know that terminating my pregnancy was never in a million years what I wanted, but due to my baby’s condition it was necessary. Shaming momma’s for making the hardest decision they’ve ever had to make is not okay. Grief and depression are separate things. Learning about mental health is important. Providing adequate mental health services is important. Most importantly, treat momma’s who have gone through this difficult circumstance with love and compassion.
- This may be too political for you to know, but I live in Texas and terminated my pregnancy on August 28. The Heart Beat Bill (anti-abortion law) went into effect on September 1, so every single abortion clinic was completely booked up. I luckily was able to advocate for myself since my abortion was a medical issue. Regardless of medical status, now women aren’t able to get an abortion in Texas even if its to terminate a pregnancy. The closest state for us to go to is New Mexico.
Do you feel that people who terminate a pregnancy get adequate support?
- Not enough support is given. Sometimes females make what they think is the right choice and we end up suffering so much mentally.
- People who have to, or decide to terminate pregnancy get little to no support anywhere unfortunately.
- I honestly don’t think so because of the fact that many people see it as we knew what we were doing so we are killing an innocent life. We chose to do the deed and the child was our responsibility but sometimes things happen that are out of our control and well many people should really just have an open mind.
- Not the best support as a lot of people are against termination.
- I was actually really impressed with the abortion clinic. The staff was incredibly kind and supportive and they offered resources to me if I needed them. My family and friends were also very supportive.
- No, we just get the stigma/negative response associate with abortions.
- No I don’t. I think there needs to be more education outside of place of procedure and I feel like doctors need to really make sure that person is ok and be comforting.
- I hope that other people got more support than I did but no I didn’t, I don’t know what else I needed. Every time I googled about abortions and tried to find a forum or something to talk to people like me who has had one but suffered a lot, but I never found anything. I found either a website with story’s about how people were happy with abortions and pro-abortion so they were thankful for the healthcare. Or I found people who were talking about how much of a bad act it is and how people are murder’s. So nothing helped me, there was no one to talk to. I almost wanted a little club of people like me so I could just cry and be like I’m not the only one! I am pro-abortion, because I understand that people are raped, abused etc, I think people should have the choice absolutely. But I still think people should talk about how traumatic it is.
- No. I say this because there’s such a stigma around the process that people don’t feel comfortable admitting the truth. So they can’t possibly get the support they need, because people don’t even know the weight and gravity of what they go through.
- Haven’t heard other cases like this where I live, but I think yes, abortion is permitted by law here, in these special cases.
- No, I don’t think so. It’s already hard enough to get support for miscarriage, and TFMR adds a whole other layer of stigma.
- Probably not. I feel psychologist should be booked automatically before and after the procedure. Only listening to podcasts about pregnancy loss helped me come to terms with it.
- Not at all. I feel once anyone finds out a pregnancy was terminated by choice there is lots of judgment. I often have to remind myself to not judge because there is a lot to a story.
- No, certainly not outside of a bubble like where I live. I’m absolutely certain women do not get the option from their doctors and that certain areas make it nearly impossible to terminate. I live in a very progressive area & still had to have required “counseling” 24 hours prior that included a list of financial resources presented, insinuating I could keep the child with financial help…
- What I think is really sad is that experiences will vary drastically depending on where they live. People have rallied around and supported me because of my situation. But two years ago, I was the intake officer in a youth mental health service. And a young woman – a student – came in wanting support because she was in the midst of going through abortion. She wanted to grieve her child while at the same time knowing she wasn’t a ‘murderer’ (her words; how sad that she absorbed that message from the media around her?) and she was doing the best thing given her circumstances. She stood out to me then, and I still remember her now. She accessed support through our service, but she didn’t and couldn’t tell her parents, her grandmother, the people around her. I don’t think she did access the support she really needed. Meanwhile, feminist author Clementine Ford speaks openly about her abortions. How they helped her to become the person she is now. Everyone’s experience is just going to vary so drastically. I have learned about a charity called “ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices) that exists in the UK and it sounds like the work they do is amazing! I would have loved to have access to a resource like that here in Australia but sadly I don’t think one exists.
- Not really. Its very stigmatized and I think that makes women reluctant to share.
- No, I don’t feel like there is enough support for people who have had to terminate. Honestly, the pregnancy loss community on Social media is the only place I find true support, and I had to seek these accounts out myself. I feel like hospitals/ doctors should provide a list of resources for loss parents. I would have loved a list with places to get memorial items (necklaces, bracelets, sweaters, etc), music playlists for baby loss, local baby loss support groups, mental health professionals that specialize in baby loss, etc. Instead, I had to find all this myself. Luckily, I found all of it from the baby loss community on social media.
- I think people who terminate don’t like to talk about it because it gets too political. For example, I just told people on Instagram that I lost my baby, I never said that I terminated.
Do you have any ideas on how to help end the stigma around termination or open up the conversation about it?
- I think if more people told their stories and are not ashamed of terminating a pregnancy, people would be more open minded about it. Many of us women never speak about terminating pregnancy because we’re afraid of being judged.
- I think unbiased, vulnerable, open and honestly dialogue is the only way to have progressive conversation about the topic. This is gonna take bravery and courage on the part of people who have terminated as well as compassion and patience on the part of people who whole malicious sentiment toward those who have terminated. It is more common that those who have terminated will be more understanding of those who are pro life than it is for those who are pro life to be understanding to those who have terminated. Yes many pro choice individuals are angry and malicious to those who are pro life but there are still those who are indifferent or compassionate. However, never have I seen someone who is pro life be compassionate to someone who is pro choice or has terminated. Which is interesting considering they are pro “life”. Shouldn’t the goal be to make life more tolerable, livable, and enjoyable for those who are living??
- Just that people should be mindful of many peoples situations. No one really knows what actually happening behind closed doors.
- I think there should be more support to women who have to go through this due to personal reasons, as it was a horrible experience going over to the UK as I was really nervous.
- The Texas government certainly doesn’t help the situation so supporting organizations like AVOW who are fighting the Texas abortion ban is a start. For those of us that have unfortunately had to go through this, I’d like to think it helps to share our story.
- Talking about personal stories. That no pregnancy/loss story is the same. Many factors come to place when making these decisions (mental health, finances, older children, overall health, spousal support, family support among others).
- I think just more education in general needs to happen. And the more people will talk, hopefully more will listen. People terminate for many different reasons and each one is hard to endure, whether you wanted it or not. I am also a loss Doula and I think if more people knew about those too, they’d be getting more support.
- People will always have the right to have their own opinion, I wish people would be open minded and understand it’s not the obnoxious, narcissistic act people think it is. That sometimes like just isn’t that easy for people. I wish people would treat abortion with the same attitude as any other pregnancy loss, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’. I wish people would let me tell my story and understand everything. As soon as my partner told me I was pregnant I spent the day (despite his comments) hoping he would change his mind and thinking about how amazing it could be to have my own little wrinkly baby, I got excited and started planning in my head at a million miles per hour. Pondering will it be a girl or boy, I still had nausea, I still rubbed my belly and touched it more than ever. I secretly loved being pregnant and didn’t want to not be. I imagined all the stuff Asif it were a normal pregnancy so when I lost my baby I lost our future together too, I lost a part of myself I’ll never get back. I feel like I’m a mother without a child, I feel the urge when people ask me about kids to be like ‘I have an angel baby’ but I never say it out loud. Since that day I have doubted how I’ll ever be a mother my my own child, and longed for it more than ever. I sobbed to my counsellor explaining that my body feels like it should be a mum but my brain knows it’s not. I still had all the hormones you go through before and after. Regardless of what name you give this, it was still the same in my head, I still feel robbed of what could have been. I’m so scared to ever get pregnant again, I have really bad anxiety about it. Don’t judge me, I’m broken as fuck. I’m an emotionally intelligent person with a good head and strong will, there will be many women out there who are not. I’m scared for them, I want them to feel like they can reach out to the people around them and talk about what they have been through, I promise this will always happen, ending the stigma will only help!
- People just need to hear more stories to bring the gray to light in a black and white world. I started a podcast called Unexpecting with the goal to do just that. I want to bring awareness to pregnancy and infant loss, comfort those who feel alone, and offer hope for the future.
- Just talk to people you know can or want to understand you, don’t expose beyond, because it would be devastating to hear that type of opinions, and you don’t need that while you are living the worst moment of your life.
- One thing I think is worth knowing is that many of the reasons people miscarry—genetic conditions—are the same reasons that people decide to TFMR. That’s not always the case, but… If I hadn’t terminated, I probably would have had a second trimester miscarriage. So I guess what I’m saying is it’s not so different, even though it may seem really different
- There is so much stigma, usually unintentionally created by those who were given the same diagnosis and decided to proceed with the pregnancy. Please don’t judge but make an effort to understand the individual’s circumstances. People certainly don’t know how to react, and either say something wrong and painful, or will withdraw from you and ignore you. Your ignorance of my loss hurts more that anything you say. If you have anyone in your circles suffering loss, educate yourself. Google what to say before you say something. Things like ‘at least you can get pregnant’, ‘it wasn’t’ meant to be’ or ‘there is always next time’ cannot replace the loss I feel. It doesn’t make it less of a loss. And finally – loss is a loss, no matter how early/late in pregnancy/life of a child and no matter the circumstances. Be gentle.
- Women telling their stories if they choose to. Also we need more resources for partners. My husband felt so isolated because no one acknowledged his loss as well. If partners feel like they can talk about it too, you create a larger network of support and less stigma.
- It’s tricky because I understand the arguments for, but also some of the arguments against. I do think people talking about their experiences helps to address this, not just what they did but also why they did it. A baby with Trisomy 21 becomes an adult with Trisomy 21. A baby with Turner’s syndrome might live a relatively normal life, but is the anxiety and the worry through the rest of the pregnancy/infancy worth the risk? Some parents feel equipped and ready to raise a special needs child, which is wonderful for them. Some parents don’t, and their decision to terminate is just as valid as another family’s decision not to. Remembering always that when we talk about any social issue, we are talking about individuals who have experienced those issues, and who always have complex emotions surrounding them.
- I think focusing on the woman as more than a vessel for a child. There is an individual person behind that choice, and she needs love and support.
- Ending the stigma is definitely a challenge. I think ending it starts with more communication. Hospitals/doctors talking about it and providing more resources and doing better about the mental health services they provide. There should be more space for parents to talk about what’s happened to them, without the fear of making other people uncomfortable. Society in general needs more education about grief and the grief process. An idea I’ve thought many times, maybe schools should have mental health courses consistently throughout each grade so that our society becomes more educated about mental health in general. Also, grief doesn’t end when you return to work, so workplaces should provide more in the way of grief support and time off.
- People are willing to endure the pain of keeping a baby in their womb that will die. I’m personally not willing to have that affect my mental health and would rather end the pregnancy if it leads to that. In my opinion, its almost a religious issue??
I hope after reading this article, that you have a deeper understanding of why some women have had to choose terminating a pregnancy. This can be an uncomfortable subject for some to talk or read about, but it is important to start the conversation and allow these women to grieve and share their stories without fear of judgement.
You may also be interested in:
A to Z Emotions of Pregnancy Loss: Understanding the Grief Process
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
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