Acknowledgment: We R Native would like to thank the author for sharing their abortion experience. It takes courage, but we can learn a great deal from one another when we tell our stories. If you are interested in sharing your abortion story, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A surprising discovery
I was 19 and in college when I found out I was pregnant. To be exact – I was in shock.
“How could this have happened to me?” I wondered. I was on birth control and took the pill as directed.
I didn’t know that the antibiotics my dermatologist had recently prescribed me counteracted my birth control pills, making them less effective.
In my Catholic family, we didn’t talk about abortion – we weren’t even supposed to say the word. What was clear, was that many in our circle believed abortion equaled murder.
Despite this, I decided early on that if I were to get pregnant, I would get an abortion. I saw my older siblings struggle as young parents and recognized the responsibility and sacrifice parenting required. I also grew up with a mother who had brought us into the world far before our family could heal from our intergenerational trauma. We grew up loved, but I know some suffering could’ve been avoided if my parents had waited.
Shortly after learning I was pregnant, I made an appointment with my gynecologist to confirm my pregnancy and get more information. During the visit, she referred me to another clinic that specialized in providing abortions.
I honestly had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t share much about what I was going through with others. Even though my friends were understanding, I was still scared to tell them. I didn’t want to risk the pain of hearing someone else’s opinions about my decision.
When I checked in to the clinic the day of my abortion, the front desk staff seemed a little cold. The nurses were very formal and asked the required questions, but the anesthesiologist (who put me to sleep) was incredibly warm, and the doctor who performed the procedure was nice.
What the abortion was like
Thankfully, I was put to sleep, so the procedure was painless and quick.
After the procedure, the clinic gave me a list of aftercare instructions, including staying hydrated, not inserting anything into my vagina for two weeks, and resting.
After the abortion
Physically, I was tired from the procedure. Emotionally, I was grieving and blaming myself. I felt sad about the loss of something beautiful that could have been.
I also had this feeling that I was letting my ancestors down. I grew up in a household where we talked about blood quantum and how we’re survivors of genocide, so having an abortion definitely felt like I was going against what my people need.
Although I was processing many different feelings, I never once regretted my decision. My biggest emotion after the procedure was pure relief.
Community is healing
The only person I told was my boyfriend at the time. He supported me by respecting my decision to have an abortion, paying for the procedure, and giving me a ride. Other than that, I didn’t share what I was going through with anyone else.
Reflecting on this, I think that was a mistake. I recommend reaching out to understanding family members and friends. Not only can they help take care of you, but they can also help you cope with the emotions of the experience.
What I learned
If you are seeking an abortion, contact your local abortion fund. Even if you don’t need financial assistance, some funds can provide resources to help you heal after your procedure.
There are also abortion doulas – providers that can help guide you through the process of having and recovering from an abortion. They can also provide more insight into your rights.
I learned that taking care of yourself before and after the procedure is also important. Expect to see and feel changes within your body, so take care of yourself physically. Eat nutritious meals, rest when you feel tired, and drink water.
I also suggest looking into ways to help you grieve after your abortion – whether you would like to grieve in the ways of your Tribe, your religion, or whatever feels best for you.
Finally, I highly suggest crying or letting your emotions out however you need to. You will likely experience a wide variety of emotions during the whole process. It’s important to have an outlet for your feelings. Be gentle and kind to yourself during this time. There are so many complicated emotions around abortion. You don’t need to be hard on yourself while you’re already processing the experience. Make sure to feed your mind, body, and soul however you can.
You are not alone
I’m sharing my story in hopes it will help other Indigenous people. Your reasons for having an abortion are your own. Only you know what is best for you.
Our ancestors had abortions. Your relatives have had abortions. You’re not alone. Even though I don’t know you, I’m sending you love.
To learn more about abortion care options, visit abortionfinder.org or ineedana.org. To find an abortion fund to help pay for your care, visit the National Network of Abortion Funds at nnaf.org.
If you are Indigenous/Native and in need of abortion funding, you can learn more about Indigenous Women Rising (IWR) at iwrising.org/abortion-fund. Indigenous Women Rising is an Indigenous-led and centered reproductive justice organization that helps fund abortions in the United States and Canada for Indigenous people. If you are seeking abortion funding, you can call or text their warmline at 505-398-1990.