What’s the connection between abortion and careers?

I have had two abortions.

The first one was when I was twenty-seven. I was playing professional beach volleyball. I was playing volleyball eight hours a day and I spent two hours a day at the gym. I noticed that I was getting tired more easily, but I thought it meant I needed to train harder.

Then one weekend, a doctor friend on a visit saw me drop a plate one day, and a vase the next. I told her my hands just gave out because they were so tired.

She said I was anemic. Then she said, “Maybe you're pregnant.”

“I'm not,” I said. “I have a regular period.”

It turns out, though, that you can have a regular period and still be pregnant.

And I was. Fourteen weeks.

My friend said, “Schedule the abortion now. You're already late for it.”

I didn't do anything. I was in shock. My boyfriend was in shock. Neither of us had ever had a pregnancy. I couldn't believe the whole process actually worked, to be honest.

I told my mom I was pregnant. She said, “Get an abortion.”

I didn't say anything. I wasn't really thinking I had any choices. I didn't have a job that could support a child. And I wasn't sure if I was planning to marry my boyfriend, although we were living together. I knew that I had big ideas for my life and I hadn't figured things out yet.

My mom got militant. “You'll destroy your career possibilities.”

She riffed on this theme for a week, calling me every night. Her passion is understandable. My mom took a job when I was young because she hated being home with kids. She endured interview questions like, “Does your husband want you away from home working?” She was one of the first women to become an executive at her Fortune 500 company. She blazed trails so I could have career goals that required an abortion to preserve.

Here's what else happened: Other women called. It turned out that many, many women I knew had had an abortion. This is not something women talk about. I mean, I had no idea how ubiquitous the procedure was, at least in my big-city, liberal, Jewish world.

Each of those women told me that I should get an abortion so that I could keep my options open. “You're a smart girl. You can do anything with your life right now. Don't ruin it.”

My boyfriend was laying low. He was no slouch when it came to pro-choice politics and he knew it was, ultimately, my decision.

But the minute I said I would get an abortion, he was driving me to Planned Parenthood.

You had to go once to set up the appointment, and then go back.

When I went back, I had a panic attack. I was on the table, in a hospital gown, screaming.

The nurse asked me if I was a religious Christian.

The boyfriend asked me if I was aware that my abortion would be basically illegal in seven more days.

I couldn't stop screaming. I was too scared. I felt absolutely sick that I was going to kill a baby. And, now that I know more about being a mother, I understand that hormones had already kicked in to make me want to keep the baby. We left. No abortion.

My boyfriend started panicking by suddenly staying really late at work and going out with friends a lot. I stopped playing volleyball because I got tired so quickly.

People kept calling me: They said, “Think about how you'll support the child. Think about what you'll do if your boyfriend leaves you. You're all alone in LA with no family. How will you take care of yourself?”

People gave me advice: Get a job. Once you have established yourself in a career, you'll feel much better about having kids. Figure out where you fit in the world. Get a job, then get married, and then have kids.

I scheduled another abortion. But it was past the time when Planned Parenthood will do an abortion. Now it was a very expensive one at a clinic that seemed to cater to women coming from Christian countries in South America. I knew that if I did not go through with it this time, no one would do the abortion. I was too far along.

So I did it.

I went to sleep with a baby and woke up without one. Groggy. Unsure about everything. Everything in the whole world.

People think abortion is such an easy choice–they say, “Don't use abortion as birth control.” Any woman who has had one will tell you how that is such crazy talk. Because an abortion is terrible. You never stop thinking about the baby you killed. You never stop thinking about the guy you were with when you killed the baby you made with him. You never stop wondering.

So the second time I got pregnant, I thought of killing myself. My career was soaring. I was 30 and I felt like I had everything going for me — great job, great boyfriend, and finally, for the first time ever, I had enough money to support myself. I hated that I put myself in the position of either losing all that or killing a baby.

I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant. I knew what they'd say.

So I completely checked out emotionally. I scheduled the abortion like I was on autopilot. I told my boyfriend at the last minute and told him not to come with me.

He said forget it. He's coming with me.

I remember staring at the wall. Telling myself to stop thinking of anything.

The doctor asked me, “Do you understand what's going to happen?”

I said yes. That's all I remember.

I got two abortions to preserve my career. To keep my options open. To keep my aspirations within reach.

I bought into the idea that kids undermine your ability to build an amazing career.

And here I am, with the amazing career.

But also, here I am with two kids. So I know a bit about having kids and a career. And I want to tell you something: You don't need to get an abortion to have a big career. Women who want big careers want them because something deep inside you drives you to change the world, lead a revolution, break new barriers.

It doesn't matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won't create an earthquake underneath that confidence.

I think about the men I was with when I had the abortions. They were not bad men. One is my ex-husband. So much of life is a gamble, and I think I might have had as good a chance of staying together with the first guy as I did with my ex-husband. And I am not sure that my life would have turned out worse if I had had kids early. I am not sure it would have turned out better. I'm not even sure it would have been that different.

You never know, not really. There is little certainty. But there are some certain truths: It's very hard to have an abortion. And, there is not a perfect time to have kids.

And I wonder, are there other women out there who had abortions in the name of their career and their potential? What do those women think now?

Posted in Finding a career, No image, Women
610 comments on “What’s the connection between abortion and careers?
  1. Sydney says:

    P,
    I’m sure you will get a slew of immature comments to this. And also a bunch of bashing. And you might even lose a few readers.

    I commend you for talking openly about things that nobody talks about. That is why you’re so successful. I also appreciate how you continue to relate the “crazy topics” (first oral, now abortion) back to your career.

    Great post. Keep it up.

    • Mark W. says:

      Sydney, I think you’re right about Penelope getting a slew of immature comments to this post. Not only immature comments but also rash, judgmental, etc. Penelope is well aware of this potential outcome. It’s the kind of ‘high risk’ post (very personal) I couldn’t post about myself. Penelope’s story is one story and she’s not alone. I think you’ll see that in the comment section here. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their opinion will say something about themselves – good, bad, or something in between. I’m hoping it’s a process where we all can focus on the learning aspect.

      • Technologist says:

        Right… because anyone that could possibly disagree with her must immediately be labelled as immature, rash, and judgemental. I have to give you credit though… at least you didn’t throw out “racist” and “homophobic.”

        Of course, you’d probably label this comment as all of the above, anyway.

  2. Steve says:

    I think this is the sickest thing I have ever read. Thank goodness you aborted a child for your volleyball career. I think we all know how that turned out. This might be it for me. Reading your blog is starting to make me feel slightly less happy than watching films about Nazi death camps.

    • Liz says:

      And this is why I just subscribed to your blog.

      • julie says:

        Thanks for this article – i will now start reading your blog :) I have had 2 also but not necessarily b/c of career but b/c i dont want the house in the suburbs, hubby and 2.5 kids – american dream. I do want a career and success and to enjoy life w/o kids. there is nothing wrong in that. Thanks for posting this blog!

    • ember says:

      Steve, your comment certainly proclaims your opinion, but it adds absolutely nothing to the discussion and won’t change anyone’s mind. If changing minds is your goal, why not go about it more constructively?

    • jennyg says:

      Amen.

      But it’s all about the page views, right? I wonder if there are any stones left unturned…

  3. mamaworker says:

    I haven’t had one, but thank you for reiterating that there’s no perfect time to be a parent. It’s not easy being pregnant in this economy, that’s for sure. I appreciate your insight.

    • Vicki says:

      I also wanted to second this opinion- the message that I took from this and I think speaks the loudest to me at least is the lesson learned. There is no perfect time for being a parent. Abortions are never really forgotten. And you may have had to take this path to have learned that, but just by you sharing your experience, it can maybe help someone face this tough decision a little more knowledgeable. There’s the possibility that some woman today will read this and think, I can keep this child and still have a shot at a career.

      That to me is positive. Very positive. Controversial posts will always be controversial. But it’s important that stories are out there, so the someone who needs it can read it and learn from it.

      Personally, my situtation is wishing to have a child, and lots of people telling me to hold off, husband included, for the same reasons that you were told not to have children and that led to the decisions you made in life.

      So thank you, for pretty much stating that it’s not the case.

      • Sarah says:

        ..I agree.
        I asked myself many times what would happen, if I would get pregnant, before finishing high school, before finishing University, now, in Japan where it seems having a child is quite a difficult matter.
        In high school, and during University, I would seriously consider abortion. Even if I know I would feel guilty forever. I would have considered it as an option even now, although I’ve finished my studies, but just got an entry level job as engineer. But your shared experience got me to think about it. Once again. And in the end, that’s right – you’ll never know the future, but kids will undermine your stability anyway, at any moment, even if perfectly planned. Thank you for sharing.

        I really think you’re great. I started reading you within this week, and I’m amazed.
        ;)

      • mary says:

        Don’t put it off a moment later Vicki. There IS a right time to have a child, and it is earlier rather than later, provided you are through with most of your education. (And even then it is possible…I know a woman who finished medical school with an unplanned baby.) A woman’s fertility starts to drop after 26. This is a real fact. Having children is not easy, but neither is anything worth doing. I think having an abortion is morally wrong, as I am convinced (I am a biologist) that a fetus is a person. I feel very sorry for Penelope and her children that never saw the light of day, but I do find her post honest and heartfelt. I am glad she did not whitewash her experiences. Abortion is the WRONG answer to a difficult situation. There are so many resources for women to turn to. In many cases, I think people are too proud to ask for help. Why couldn’t Penelope’s mother (successful) have offered to help her financially until she got on her feet? I find it unbelievable that a grandmother would so callously call for the death of her own grandchildren.
        I know many people who made the other choice, and SO many of them became successful, hard-driving women! But, they had to rely on others for a while, and they had to get really creative. Sometimes things were not optimal for the kids, but everyone managed!
        Do it. My children provide me with the deepest joy you can imagine.

  4. Cody McKibben says:

    Wow, this is a powerful subject to share about, Penelope. Obviously, some of it has stayed with you, and it’s brave of you to share with everyone. There’s no perfect time for anything, but you did what you felt you had to do, and it’s noble of you to share the feelings you had with others and help provide guidance for other women.

    Seems like you are perfectly happy with your family (and your career) now though! :) Props!

    • Nicole M. says:

      Cody, I think your comment is meant to draw attention to yourself – and your site. Unfortunately, being a jackass does not make you clever.

      Penelope, I disagree with a lot in your post but I appreciate that you shared your story.

      • WordSprite says:

        Nicole, why do you state that Cody was being a jackass? Your comment is incongruous.

  5. John says:

    Are you going to go on Maury and tell us how you were raped by your neighbor next?

    You will do *anything* for attention, won’t you? Typical of people who desire validation but have accomplished nothing.

    • Doug says:

      This was a wildly angry comment that does not seem to have anything to do with the post… get some exercise.

  6. zoe says:

    wow. i can’t ever imagine haven’t the guts to share something that personal.

    i haven’t had an abortion but i have been sickly paranoid about not having kids for the same reason – my career. i have had only one real “scare” in my life and even then (happily married, successful and financially comfortable) i actually considered having one.

    i do wonder though, was it really the career that made me think that way? or maybe that i just really didn’t want a child at that time? maybe i was using my career as an excuse (albeit it a crappy one) to justify how i felt.

    z

  7. Linh says:

    Thank you for your courage to share such a personal story. I enjoyed reading it!

  8. Kerry says:

    Well, I’ve dinged you recently for being overly-sensational, but I think you’re saying something here that needs to be said. I only hope people will read the WHOLE THING carefully enough to understand the messages.

    I am curious—is the career you envisioned at the time of each abortion the career you have now? In other words, did you turn out to have the career that you meant to have, or a different one? Or was it just “career success” in general that you were aiming for at the time, without a specific picture of what that looked like?

  9. Jenny Lee says:

    Amazingly courageous post! This is why I read your blog. It’s raw and completely honest.

  10. aaron says:

    It seems some of your yahoo fans have followed you here.

    I read the title of the post and said “Oh. My. God. What has she done this time.”

    You managed to describe a difficult (lifechanging/agonizing) decision with candor and your trademark brutal honesty.

    Kudos for being honest enough to walk the truth road ~ between villification and glorification.

    cheers, blessings, and keep it up.
    -aaron

  11. TD says:

    It’s not noon yet and two men already think you are nothing based on your choice of “abortion”! Wow!!
    It is really brave of you to talk about this intimate topic publicly. I cannot even imagine what it takes to own your decisions (good and the bad) that much to be able to write about it in your blog.
    I really hope I don’t have to make this choice, but if I do, I know I will think of how to take care of the baby before I think of how much I love the baby cos its my baby. All that hormone telling you to keep it aside I see no point in bringing a baby into this world only to neglect the child later. I know a lot of people get turned off when I say this, but a lot of those ppl who tell me I am wrong also happen to be friends who are lousy parents to their kids.

    • Erica says:

      TD, most parents are lousy parents, in my experience. We do mess up our kids (passing on our insecurities and weirdnesses), just as we were messed up by our parents. But there’s a lot of wonderful stuff to pass along too. Watching from outside, you can’t really tell much about a family relationship. I would encourage you to reconsider the possibilities if you are ever faced with this difficult decision.

    • KC says:

      TD, you may think that your friends are lousy parents but as Erica saidyou can’t tell a lot about a family relationship from the outside (I’m speaking from personal experience). Also parenting techniques that you may think are lousy well if you became a parent you may find yourself developing a sneaking suspicion of calrity and understanding with regards to raising children.

    • KC says:

      TD, you may think that your friends are lousy parents but as Erica saidyou can’t tell a lot about a family relationship from the outside (I’m speaking from personal experience). Also parenting techniques that you may think are lousy well if you became a parent you may find yourself developing a sneaking suspicion of clarity and understanding with regards to raising children.

    • KC says:

      TD, you may think that your friends are lousy parents but as Erica said you can’t tell a lot about a family relationship from the outside (I’m speaking from personal experience). Also parenting techniques that you may think are lousy well if you became a parent you may find yourself developing a sneaking suspicion of clarity and understanding with regards to raising children.

  12. Amy says:

    I come here on a daily basis to read your amazing blogs, Penelope, but have never commented before. I just have to commend you on writing this post today. I am a working mother working in the administrative offices of a Planned Parenthood. Not everyone agrees with me working for this organization. I really appreciate you putting this out there. Thank you, Penelope. This type of honesty is why I read your blog.

  13. Russ says:

    Deluded and appalling.

    • Scarlett says:

      Deluded??? How could you possibly call someone who has had two abortions and then looks back on it as perhaps not the necessary choice, “deluded”? Sounds like you’re the deluded one, but by what, I haven’t the faintest clue.

  14. melissa says:

    thanks so much for sharing this story and what you’ve come to understand as a result of the decisions you made in life. sister, i give you so much credit for being so exposed and vulnerable to the world – i guess that is why you are so successful. i came from a completely different background: small town, “conservative” values. i wanted a career and it seemed like everyone around me wanted kids. i grew up thinking abortions were OK b/c everyone around me despised gals who had them. And besides, i wanted to get the hell outta there. As I aged and had more experiences I developed a much different opinion (minus the misogyny) but I have also been fortunate to never find myself in the situation of having to make such a tough decision. so, thanks.

    • Mary B says:

      I’m confused. You said in your CNN interview that whether one thinks it’s right or wrong, abortion is legal, and we should all support people in exercising the rights that we have. SLAVERY WAS A RIGHT! Does that mean everyone should have had slaves prior to 1864 because it was legal? There are a host of other laws that have been on the books (as recently as 60 years ago) that many people find offensive. Not all laws are moral or ethical.

      That being said, you also said in your interview that 75% of women have miscarriages. As far as I can tell 100% of women poop, but that doesn’t mean we need to blog about it. It really is okay to keep some things private, or to discuss them only with a counselor or clergyman (or physician if it’s about pooping).

      • CH says:

        It is okay to keep things private, if you want to. It is also okay to share your experiences in a thoughtful way with others, if you want to. Abortions happen, and history has proven over and over again that any attempt to make abortions illegal or hidden don’t make them go away, they just make them more dangerous. Research has shown, over and over again, that open discussion and information are proven to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

        It saddens me to see you comparing miscarriages to “pooping,” as though the deeply hurtful experience of a miscarriage is somehow shameful. I applaud the open discussion of women’s health issues.

        Also, it seems silly to criticize someone for blogging about something you don’t want to read about when you clearly chose to read the blog if the first place.

  15. Kristi says:

    Thanks for saying this. I think it’s a bit sensational, but I do think you make good points. And thanks for saying, in not so many words, that women don’t want abortions. None of us want them, pro-choice or not. I haven’t had one, and can’t imagine it now that I have my own child, but I wouldn’t want that right taken away. We just have to be aware of the hefty price we pay for it. If we could all just work together to educate each other on sex, we’d be much better off.

  16. j says:

    I’m curious, after your first error, why you didn’t learn from your mistake and use protection. It clearly wasn’t a good experience for you the first time.

    • Veronica Sawyer says:

      I always wonder if the people who ask this question are virgins. If you are having sex 100-200 times per year, even with protection you have at minimum a 2-10 percent chance of getting pregnant. Over 10 years that chance gets a lot bigger. Do the math. No “protection” is 100% effective.

      • F says:

        Veronica has it right. After 10 years even on the pill you have a better than 50% chance of becoming pregnant at least once, using typical failure rates.

      • Lance Haun says:

        I hate to be “that person” but your chances of getting pregnant with protection do not increase with time. Your error rate stays the same. That means you have a 2% chance the first time you have sex with protection and a 2% chance the 200th time you have sex with protection.

        If cumulative chance were actually true, we’d all have a better chance of winning the lottery as we played more.

      • Rachel - I Hate HR says:

        Funny but if you read her twitter you’ll see she’s still not on the pill.

      • M.D. says:

        Veronica is right, here.

        @Lance – What people are doing her is shifting into giving cumulative probabilities. Instead of listing the probability of getting pregnant per year (or per time having sex), they’re giving the probability of getting pregnant over eg a 10 year period of time. That IS higher than the chance of getting pregnant over a 1 year period of time, even if your failure rate doesn’t change. This is the best way to think about failure rates of birth control.

      • Francine says:

        Many people use protection, it fails, and they get pregnant–they just don’t know it, because they miscarry before they’re aware of the pregnancy. Failures in BC are probably even higher than the 2-10%. I’m in my late 40’s. Most women I know have had failures at some point or another with their BC. Some had unplanned kids, some had abortions, many have had both.

      • Doug says:

        Actually one of the mechanisms of the pill is to make the womb a hostile environment to a conceived child… read the PDR. Little abortions happen everyday without anyone knowing… anybody but God that is.

      • Lance says:

        You have the same probability every single time you have sex. How is that ignorant? The 1000th time you have protected sex doesn’t mean you have a larger chance of getting pregnant. The act of taking your 2% chances over a 1000 times is the only variable.

        Look at the context of the comment I was actually responding to before you throw your jabs at me.

      • Colage says:

        Those rates aren’t exactly true. Failure rates for birth control are independent of each other and are not cumulative. Second, failure rates are usually understood to be x% per month, rather than per sexual episode (since there’s only one egg per month). So even if you’re using fairly liberal failure rates (99.0%, say, for modern birth control methods) then you don’t really have better than a 1.5% chance of becoming pregnant in a twelve-month span (it’s the sum of the function .1*(.99^n-1), n=1 through 12). In the real world with proper use pregnancy rates while using some form of contraception are more like 0.1%.

    • J says:

      Penelope first I want to say that the ‘j’ that posted this comment is not me, the regular poster ‘J’. Really want to make that clear.

      Second, you have balls of steel for sharing your story and pointing out that when it comes to an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy, no choice is easy.

      • F says:

        >>>>
        I hate to be “that person” but your chances of getting pregnant with protection do not increase with time. Your error rate stays the same. That means you have a 2% chance the first time you have sex with protection and a 2% chance the 200th time you have sex with protection.

        If cumulative chance were actually true, we’d all have a better chance of winning the lottery as we played more.

        Posted by Lance Haun on 2009-06-17 11:51:52 |
        >>>
        Not really relevant to the overall discussion, but Lance’s comment is so ignorant that it needs to be replied to. This is akin to saying that if you flip a coin 200 times, you have a 50% chance of never having seen tails, when the correct statement is that on the 200th flip there is a 50% chance of seeing a head or tail, whereas the odds of the 200th flip being the first tail are astronomical. And yes, the more you play the lottery the better chance you have of winning at least once, even if the chance of winning on a single ticket is the same, and the more you have sex, even if the failure rates are the same, the more likely you are to get pregnant at least once.

    • leah says:

      The only 100% way to not get pregnant is to not have sex.

      I became pregnant the first time we used a condom because it broke

      (I know this is pretty late in the game but I figured it needed to be said)

  17. LK says:

    I love the dudes that complain about being an attention whore. They keep reading, don’t they? What kind of asshat does that? I don’t read motherfuckers I don’t like. Unless I want to be pissed off.

    Nother fine column. There is little certainty. Not even when you’re trying to have one on purpose. I think all you can really know is whether or not you’re ready at the time.

  18. Amanda says:

    Thank you for your honesty in this incredibly personal story. An unexpected pregnancy is a choice that many women have to make, and no one should be demonized for making a decision that made sense for their life at that time – €“ especially not in a completely legal endeavor. You are a brave woman, P; it is posts like this that are helping to create an open dialogue about such a sensitive issue.

  19. S.O. says:

    My hand is raised.

  20. F says:

    I’m impressed that you shared this with us. I’m sure this will provoke a firestorm of controversy.

  21. priscilla says:

    wow. thanks for opening up a dialogue that is usually cemented shut. i’m encouraged by the conclusion that you came to.

  22. Will at Virtualjobcoach says:

    Great, but difficult topic and I applaud you for your honesty. That said, I strongly disagree with the comment “anytime you have kids, it will be difficult for your career”.

    When my wife and I decided that we wanted to have a family, I decided that I could no longer stay in my career of seven years. It was not possible to do that and (IMHO) be a good parent. So I resigned and took a job for $100K less.
    My pre-family job was Strategy Consulting with Accenture and my success was based on 80% travel. I could have taken a few months or looked for a ‘local job’ but I knew that that would be temporary.

    So with 80% travel, I could not be the father I wanted to be AND my wife would have not had me around to help her with the new baby.

    After having three kids, I see how easy it is to totally screw-up children by bad parenting and how hard it is to be a good parent. Deciding to have a child has a lot more responsibility behind it than deciding not to have a child.

    So my conclusion would be that there are good times to have children in your career.

    Great topic,
    Will

    • Dave says:

      So Will, it seems that despite the fact that you initially stated that you disagree with her statement regarding balancing career and parenting, you are really agreeing with it because you had to give up your 6 figure job that required 80% travel for a lower paying one which requires less in order for you to be the parent you want to be. Is there any really good time to have children in your career? What if your wife had worked as well? The fact is that we are often forced to decide between earning the livelihood we’d like to and being the parent we’d like to. My guess is that your former boss didn’t care whether you had a family life or not but just that you gave work your A game 100$ of the time. That true for most careers. Talk to a doctor, lawyer or corporate executive about how often they get to see their kids.

      What truly a shame is that (and many of us have found this out now) now matter how much of an A game player you are, when your employer is lower on profits then he/she wants to be you may find yourself with more of a family life then you’d care to have.

  23. Tim Dunn says:

    i am profoundly impressed by the courage and candor of this post!
    i am a pastor in cincinnati, and would consider myself pro-life, but i try very hard to remember to defend not only the unborn life, but the life affected by an unbearably difficult choice. this is a story and topic that in generally off limits, or hidden behind political and religious rhetoric. thank you for bringing it out so dialogue can occur. congrats on your professional success, and i am certain you are a fabulous mother. blessings.

  24. BJ says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m another one of the women who made the choice to have an abortion to keep my career options open. I’m bewildered that there haven’t been more more “me too” comments on this blog as of yet, as you suggest, it’s likely many women have made similar choices.

    What do I think now? It was the right decision at the time. I was pregnant at 18 and drinking heavily. In the following five years I earned a Computer Science degree (I can’t imagine doing that and caring for a newborn). From there I’ve had opportunities that led me to a great job in a great area.

    Now I’m 35, it’s been 17 years since my abortion and I’ve done enough therapy to realize I do want children and I’m concerned about my biological clock. I agree with Penelope that there’s never the perfect time to have children when you have a career and maybe I would have achieved it all even if I had had the baby, but it’s hard to imagine that life. Instead I’m happy to be moving forward with the healthiest relationship of my life and seeing where that leads.

    Thank you again. I wish I felt free to blog about this.

    • Caitlin says:

      @BJ, I’ve never had an abortion to protect my career. However, I’ve always been extremely careful not to get pregnant for a number of reasons, including career. It’s not quite the same thing, but I can understand where you are coming from.

    • Shannon says:

      I am turning 35 this year and got pregnant at 19 and had just broken up with my fiance. I decided to have my daughter and within a few years, I had a Computer Information Systems degree. It was an incredibly difficult time though not impossible. Now, at the age of 34, married, financially stable and with two kids, I’m more likely to consider the options because it’s not a path I want to go down again. We’ve taken extreme measures to prevent this from happening but if it did, I would have to consider my options. As you say, I think I made the right choice then and this would be my choice now.

    • Heather says:

      you. me. same boat.

  25. JB says:

    You have already gotten enough comments on the abortion itself and will undoubtedly get more. I don’t care if your story about the abortions is true or not, you’ve hit on some good points, which I think are the crux of the working parent discussion/dilemma. They are:

    (1) It doesn't matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won't create an earthquake underneath that confidence.

    (2)[T]here is not a perfect time to have kids.

    Although the tide is shifting a bit–or media wants us to think it is–the responsibility of rasing kids still rests primarily on the woman’s shoulders. She’s the one whose career will “suffer.” She’s the one who has to figure out the perfect or imperfect timing of pregnancy. She’s the one who gets alternately praised and criticized for her decisions.

    The other thing to remember, though, is that eventually kids grow up and live their own lives. And we all are living longer, healthier, more productive lives, so there’s plenty of time for a career (or a dozen careers!) if you want. This sounds a lot more exciting to me than toiling for 50 years at the same drudge work for my entire life.

    A good book on this is “The Comeback” by Emma Gilby Keller http://www.thecomebackbook.com/. It’s not preachy and it has some inspirational stories featuring real women who have had careers, given them up for family and come back…better than ever.

  26. Michael says:

    Very difficult topic. It sounds like you’ve forgiven yourself and have learned a lot from the difficult choices you made and the experiences that followed. Whether that’s true or not, please know that the God who created you loves you: always has, always does, and always will. Nothing you can do will ever change that.

  27. S says:

    This is why I read your blog. Great post. Keep it up.

  28. Grace says:

    Penelope, Thank you for your honesty and sharing your story. Your point is clear that an abortion is hard and there isn’t a perfect time to have kids. It’s not as though you have answers but rather your pertinent experience, that so many women can relate to. Unfortunately, women remain silent on these issues instead of sharing, understanding and discussing their options and past decisions.

  29. January says:

    Wow. I am a new reader and this is a well-written post. I commend you for telling such a personal story.

    There is no easy time to be a parent. I have not had an abortion so I can only imagine the pressure you must have been under to make the best choice you could at the time. I have two kids and I'm going through a painful divorce – if I’ve learned anything it’s that life throws you curves.

    Work provides a kind of stability and balance to my home life. I’m a better mother because of my career choices.

  30. ioana says:

    This is the best entry that I have read from you in a long time.

    Thank you for your honesty with this. I can’t believe how many women dared to give you assvice. Do you feel resentful over that? Do you think you were bullied into having an abortion? Having an abortion should be a personal decision and your mother honestly, sounds very intrusive and pushy.

    I never had one, but I did wait too long to have kids in the name of my two careers (dance and software development). And honestly, I’ve made much bigger strides in my software development career since I’ve had my son. The dance improved on many levels, but I’ve still to get back in the shape I was before.

    I am sorry I waited so long to have kids.

  31. hayley says:

    I had an abortion before I had a career. That baby would have had a very unhappy life with a very unhappy mother and an absent father. Now, I have a career and relationship that can support a happy child, with happy parents in a loving relationship. No regrets.

  32. Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    My son stopped moving for 48 hours in the middle of my wife’s pregnancy (it turns out because he’d shifted positions). For 24 hours we wondered if we’d lost him. I was astounded by how connected we both felt to him even at 12 weeks. Just before we had the ultrasound that showed he was fine, my wife burst into tears over worry that he was dead. Even just writing this now is difficult.

    Having said that, I can really appreciate the wrenching emotions that must accompany any woman’s (couple’s) decision to abort. We should all strive to be understanding rather than condemning of anyone who finds themselves making this difficult decision. Life decisions are difficult enough without people around us constantly judging not just our actions (which we could argue is fine) but we who make them (which is not).

  33. Nicole Leach says:

    It seems that people always see the the black and white of a situation. Either they believe you killed a baby or they believe that you protected your future by having an abortion. What some may not realize is that you weren’t just protecting your future, but that of the child you may of had. Abortion is not an easy subject, but it is something that happens everyday.

    I have been on the pro-life side and on the pro-choice life. For me I believe Pro-Choice is the best. I hate to say this, but if my mother would have thought of me or my siblings when she got pregnant then there would have been several lives saved. My mother had three children that she could not support, one she gave up for adoption and she turned out to be a Meth addict, one she gave to his father and he is now in jail after a drunk driving accident that put someone in a wheelchair, and then she kept me. We lived in group homes, cars and shelters I ended up being on my own at 15 and have had struggles.

    I am doing fine for myself, but I do wonder what the world be like if my mother had aborted any of us. Would her life have been better?

    No abortion is not the answer to unplanned pregnancy, but ultimately the choice is up to the person that is pregnant. Who are we to judge and who are we to tell P that she is a bad person. I applaud her and I think that she is brave for admitting her past.

    I can’t say that if I was in her position that I wouldn’t have made the same decisions she did.

    You have a lifetime follower in me P!!! Keep challenging the expected and expanding our minds.

    • JB says:

      Your comment reminds me of the part of Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner where they write about the connection between the legalization of abortion and the lowering rate of violent crime.

      That said, you’ve overcome a lot. Best of luck.

  34. LA says:

    I commend you for this honest and timely article. For me, it is the self-flagellating ending that I found so uncomfortable to read. I am sorry that you seem to still have a hard time making peace with your decisions. I suspect that I may be much older than yourself and my opinions are more in tune with your scrappy mother’s view of options for women and their children, but the truth is, everyone’s situation is different. What I am very glad that you shared however, is that this is rarely a decision that is made lightly and it definitely leaves scars of shame and sadness.

  35. Jane Greer says:

    Penelope, people who love your blog love it because you’re blunt and don’t mince words, so I’m going to do that, too.

    You wrote, “People think abortion is such an easy choice – €“they say, ‘Don't use abortion as birth control.’ Any woman who has had one will tell you how that is such crazy talk.”

    Why is that “crazy talk”? You used TWO abortions as birth control, merely to maintain your lifestyle. Neither one was necessary for your health or the baby’s. It was apparently an agonizing decision both times, but both times you came down on the side of killing someone else rather than accepting a change in your life.

    I’m glad you think about it a lot, and I appreciate the underlying message of your post. However, it’s a logical fallacy to believe that a woman’s emotional agony before or after an abortion justifies the abortion. Yeah, it’s hard on the woman–but she doesn’t die.

    • Meridith Levinson says:

      Jane, although I can’t speak for Penelope, I don’t think she’s trying to make the point that her emotional agony justified the abortion. I believe she was just trying to describe what the decision was like for her (and frankly, for many other women). If she was trying to make any point with her description of the emotions she experienced upon making this decision, it was that abortion is never an easy choice for the pregnant woman–which seems to be a common misconception among some pro-lifers. Women who have abortions or who want to have the right to have abortions are not soulless, heartless, emotionless, un-thinking individuals.

      • Jane Greer says:

        Meredith: No, of course, “Women who have abortions or who want to have the right to have abortions are not soulless, heartless, emotionless, un-thinking individuals.” HOWEVER, they’re focused on themselves and their emotions to the exclusion of anything and anyone else.

        More to the point, though, WHO CARES about these women’s emotions? Emotions come and go. What we’re talking about is dead babies who will never be allowed to have ANY emotions. Yes, babies. They’re not tricycles. They’re not puppies. They’re human babies. We were all fetuses once, and we’re here having this conversation ONLY because the first nine months of our lives were respected as much as the following years.

        And by the way (this is not for you, Meredith, but for some other commenters here): why is it that PT is “brave” for talking about her abortions but those of us who disagree with her are “nut cases” and “wackos”? A couple of weeks ago, lots of people disagreed with her theory that bloggers don’t need to tell readers when they’re being paid to write about a product; those people didn’t get called names by other commenters. Is it only “wacko” to disagree on the subject of abortion?

  36. Lance Haun says:

    “I want to tell you something: You don't need to get an abortion to have a big career. Women who want big careers want them because something deep inside you drives you to change the world, lead a revolution, break new barriers.

    “It doesn't matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won't create an earthquake underneath that confidence.”

    I hope people actually read the crux of your message and think about it rather than get into the usual debates about abortion. That is too much to ask of some people though.

    • Jackie M. says:

      For me talking about career guidance cannot and should not be the focus when abortion spawned the discussion. It would be like talking about whether or not the blue shirt was a good choice when watching a news report about the mobs in Iran right now. The sub points, although good for another discussion, are irrelevant when more promient and important issue is the main topic.

      • Lance Haun says:

        I don’t think abortion spawned the discussion though. I think the intersection of life and career did and abortion and children are certainly a factor in life.

        People can debate abortion politics all day and never convince a single person to change their mind. It is fruitless.

  37. Tators, Precious says:

    How horrible. Fetus feels pain at 10 weeks.

    You must have been in a great of pain as well. I don’t know if blogging helps, but please know there is healing available.

    Me and my ex had two abortions when we were young. ALL advice was to abort — no, I don’t think I’d even call it advice, more like every voice we heard was to abort. And we never honestly opened our minds to allow our consciences to give us much advice either. We never talked about them afterward. But I don’t think we ever stopped thinking about the babies.

    When the divorce hit, the abortions were the last thing on our minds, but now looking back, they were the purple poopy elephant in the middle of the living room of our marriage.

    Thanks for casting a light on the elephant, even for a few brief seconds.

    God, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  38. Jackie M. says:

    Reading this post made me sick to my stomach. Two of my sisters are unable to have children due to a condition they were born with. My oldest sister, who is engaged, would give anything to have just one child. And then there are people, such as yourself, that take for granted the gift that they’ve been given.

    Did it not cross your mind that there were loving parents wanting to adopt your child? That you could have given him or her life, and yet continued with your own? Or was it just easier to end it when the baby is small so you didn’t have to dwell on the consequences of your actions? An unplanned pregancy is difficult. But there are alternate options as well.

    So often people that are against abortion are called names and judged because they see this “choice” as taking a life. I guess I’m willing to be called those names in order to stand for those that can’t protect themselves.

    If you are unwilling to face the consequences of sex, which is having a child, then don’t have it. Or choose to deal with those consequences in another way, such as adoption.

    The usual response to this is that it’s hard to give a baby up. But it’s easier to kill it? I really don’t follow the logic here.

    You say, “The boyfriend asked me if I was aware that my abortion would be basically illegal in seven more days.” This is the biggest flaw in the pro-abortion movement. At 11:59pm your baby is legal to be aborted, but just one minute later it becomes a baby and it is then illegal to abort it? When will we stop playing God and making up rules as to when life exists versus when it’s not. It’s the unknowns of when this line is drawn that should lead us to outlaw abortion altogether.

    My question back to you: when does your baby become a baby? Is it at 12:00 after the magic day has passed (as decided by your state’s legislature)? Is it when the legs have been delivered? Is it when the head has been delivered? What is the magic day, hour, or minute? If you cannot answer that question, then how can you say you did not kill your children?

    Although I agree with most feminist viewpoints, I cannot associate myself with that group because of their pro-abortion stance. Instead of focusing on real issues, like 1 of every 4 women getting assulted in her lifetime, they continue to put abortion at the front. That somehow taking a life of your child makes you more of a woman.

    • Susan says:

      Life begins when it is self supporting. A fetus capable of life outside the womb should not be aborted, but delivered. Before that – there is potential for life, but it is dependent on the goodwill of the owner of the uterus.

      Think this is harsh? How about all the people who die waiting for kidney transplants, marrow transplants and blood transfusions. Their lives are just as sacrosanct as any fetus – yet we would never force someone to give up their kidney, their bone marrow, or even their blood to save someone else’s life. We can urge them to – tell them its the right thing to do, tell them we will support them through the procedure – but we cannot FORCE them.

      Why? Because one of the most basic human rights is the right to control what happens to one’s own body. If you cannot force the donation of blood, you certainly cannot force the use of a uterus.

      • M.D. says:

        This is called the “Bad Samaritan” argument, and I think is one of the most legitimate legal arguments in this country right now.

      • fool says:

        So you’re saying an infant is “self supporting” life and does not need a mother or care to live? True, if we left infants by themselves, they would live until a normal age. All of us, after all, are so completely independent that we are altogether unlike fetuses.

      • M says:

        This is simply untrue if it were so as soon as someone is rendered paraplegic after an accident you would classify them as dead? Why do people mourn a miscarriage; if it is not for the loss of an eagerly awaited child?
        The truth is at the moment of coception the wonder of a new human being entering the world has begun and the sad thing is so many of them are executed in the womb.
        We live in unnatural times for it goes totally against Nature for a female to kill her young The natural instinct of a mother is to defend her young to the death.

    • Erin says:

      As a woman who is adopting a child, I find your statement ridiculous. Women who get pregnant and have abortions aren’t denying me a child.

      Honestly, you NEED to talk to your sisters before you blab their personal fertility details on the internet. I would be mortified if someone in my family wrote such personal stuff about me!!

      My guess is that Penelope’s child wouldn’t even meet your sisters’ adoption standards. Ask your sisters what their qualifications are for their adoption. They’re probably like most couples who only want “perfect” babies. This means no exposure to alcohol or drugs. Want to bet that since Penelope didn’t know she was pregnant, she probably had a few beers. Meaning that your sisters wouldn’t even have considered her babies. If Penelope ever took an anti-depressant then your sisters wouldn’t want her baby because of what’s called an “exposure to mental health issues.” If Penelope’s children would have had any signs of a disability at birth, your sisters wouldn’t have wanted her baby, either. It’s much more likely that Penelope’s aborted children would have been placed in foster care than adopted … just letting you know.

      Now, your sisters might be open to alcohol and drug exposures, exposures to mental health issues, and children with disabilities with their adoptions … but most couples adopting in the US aren’t. (And dear LORD please don’t put it up on the internet what their actual preferences are because it’s NOT YOUR STORY TO SHARE.)

      People who are adopting want to adopt children whose birth parents made the choice to put the children up for adoption.

    • J says:

      P referred to what she did as ‘killing the baby’. So your argument and questions to her on ‘when does life begin, when does a baby become a baby’ seems a bit out of place in regards to her post as she is not arguing that point.

      And I can see asking a woman who is currently pregnant and considering an abortion if she has also considered adoption, but what is the point of asking someone years after the fact?

      You talk about the alternatives of unplanned pregnancy – adoption, having the child and abortion are all options and all of them have consequences. Just because you don’t care for one doesnt make it any less of an option.

    • E says:

      wow Jackie, very well put. I couldn’t have said it any better. There are always so many options before someone has to die. And in terms of when a ‘fetus’ becomes a ‘person’ – 4 year old children can’t even take care of themselves yet. Does this mean they aren’t fully people either?

    • Janet says:

      i’m pro-life, but I think you’re blinded by your passion here, Jackie. Penelope admits that it was a baby she was killing. “My question back to you: when does your baby become a baby?” I don’t think she is confused about that. One reason it is so hard to talk about subjects like this is that people stop listening to what others are saying because they think their point is more important.

      Thank you for your honesty, Penelope.

    • TKB says:

      So all women who can bear children have to take responsibility for the fact that your sisters can’t? Grow up.

    • Noah says:

      If you’re against abortions, don’t have one.

    • Emily says:

      Jackie M. I think that you mis-spoke. When you said pro-abortion, you meant to say pro-choice. Just as instead of saying that people are “pro-life”, they should simply be referred to as anti-abortion.

    • abdpbt says:

      My question back to you: when does your baby become a baby?

      How about when it can live on its own outside of my body? That definition works well for me.

    • Becca says:

      Jackie M., beautiful post!! I agree 100%! My oldest sister is having trouble becoming pregnant and she is 40. She may never get to have a child. Adoption is a selfless, life-affirming choice that saves a life a creates or expands a family. Abortion kills.

  39. A says:

    Okay, I read this post and was totally disgusted and grossed out but I came back to post a comment at the risk of being late for my 11:00 appointment.

    First off, Here’s a bit of reality: No woman ever gets pregnant unless she wants to at some level. It’s a truism we don’t want to admit and I know this from firsthand experience and 20 years of close observation. If you didn’t want to get pregnant you would have avoided sex or used birth control in the first place. Unless you’re living in a religious compound or are an underage minor in a tragic situation, you as a woman have complete control over your reproductive organs.

    Second – and here’s what everyone is thinking but is afraid to point out about this post. You had 2 abortions and now have 2 children with special needs? My heart breaks for you because clearly you must be a tortured soul. I’ll leave it at that.

    For some reason as I age I’m getting more militant in my views. I never had strong feelings against abortion until I was unexpectedly pregnant at 40 with a very successful career. I say unexpectedly, but I knew unprotected sex was risky and was totally in love with a great man who also knew the consequences of unprotected sex. We both wanted a baby but would never consciously make that decision so fate and our actions made it for us. The best accident we ever had is 3 years old and has totally changed our lives in a way words can’t explain. Yes, I gave up my career for motherhood after she was born and cut my monthly expenses from $20k to $6k in order to do it. So long BMW but for all the right reasons. During the pregnancy experience I saw what happens as life develops and have 6 months of grainy pictures to prove it. Since then I can’t even wrap my mind around why anyone would want to have an abortion. Women – and this includes teenagers – have the obligation to themselves and society to wise up about birth control and make better decisions that are in line with their values, career goals and financial situation before playing sperm-roulette.

    • Kerry says:

      “No woman ever gets pregnant unless she wants to at some level”

      That’s just bullshit. Rape victims? Developmentally disabled adults in group homes? Helloooo?

      This is biology, not that “The Secret” crap. You can’t will a pregnancy (ask any infertile woman).

      I debated whether to subscribe to the comments. I think I shouldn’t have.

    • F says:

      BS. Every heard of failure rates? Even the pill has an 8% yearly failure rate in practice.

      • Susan says:

        A – Exactly how do you expect women to have intimate relationships with men without sex? You’ve confused “wanting to have sex (and the high level of intimacy that comes with it)” with “wanting to have a baby”. Absolutely not true. You can be profoundly in love with someone, commit yourself to spending the rest of your life with them – and still not want to have a baby, with them, or with anyone else.

        Or in the case of some married women who have had abortions – not want to have ANOTHER baby with them.

    • Irina I says:

      “No woman ever gets pregnant unless she wants to at some level.”

      I’m sorry, but I find that really hard to believe. Do you mean also while using birth control?

      “It’s a truism we don’t want to admit and I know this from firsthand experience and 20 years of close observation.”

      What kind of observation was that? Did you select women randomly from a population and ask them these questions? Did you ask women who have gotten abortions whether they wanted to get pregnant? Did you ask women who have never gotten pregnant whether they never wanted to get pregnant? Or is it based on anecdotal evidence of observations of those around you?

    • Gerty says:

      It sounds as if from your story that at 40 years old with lots of life experience and options in your life the pregnancy has turned out to be a blessing?

      Yes you had to “give up” a lot of material comforts but you had been given the option to create them in the first place. That is one of the points of Penelope’s post.

      You are viewing the whole situation from your own exclusive perspective. Even at 40 years old with all your “20 years of close observation” have you been unable to cultivate any empathy for other people’s situations? And I dare say you will offend women out there that are genuinely trying to have a baby and are unable to fall pregnant for what ever reason.

    • abdpbt says:

      Wow, I keep thinking I’ve read the most wackadoo response but the ante keeps getting upped. No woman ever gets pregnant without wanting to? Are you fucking kidding me? How fertile are you? Or, rather, how prudish are you? Because if you are very fertile, let me assure you, at some point your contraception WILL FAIL. So the choice is to not have sex at all, which I cannot imagine anyone would recommend as a viable option or even an ideal for which to strive, or to deal with unplanned pregnancy.

      It’s one thing when the whackadoo men come on here and say this crap, but women doing it is repulsive.

      • mary says:

        Utterly untrue. If you are really honest with yourself, and DO NOT WANT TO GET PREGNANT. Then you will double up. You will use the pill, and a condom and insist that the guy withdraw. Millions do it. Ask your friends.

    • J.S says:

      I am about a year late posting on this topic, but I had to.

      When I was in my early 20’s, I had an abortion. My child would be about 8 years old now. Yes, I think about him/her. Sometimes I even wish I had had the child. But I don’t regret it.

      And the part where you say that subconsciously you want to have a baby because you are having unprotected sex? Bull Freaking Shit. I did NOT want a baby. I liked my life. And at that moment? I really just wanted to get laid. Seriously. No baby thoughts. I was on birth control too. It obviously failed.

      So before you go touting off your “observations: and how you just know that we really do want to get pregnant – freaking realize you are just rah-tarded. Yep, I am being that immature. Because your statement was pathetically immature and nowhere near the truth for the HUGE majority of women.

      And Miss Peneleope Trunk? Well written. Abortions suck. But they are there. They are happening. We make choices in our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  40. Anja says:

    Thank you for posting this. I also had two abortions and I felt exactly the same way you did – both times.

    I’m going to be 30 next year and I sometimes wonder if my choices (the decision for my career and against kids) will determine how my life is gonna be. I’m scared not to have kids at all and live a lonely but successful career woman life.. Thats probably not true but the thought lingers.

    Thank you for sharing your story! Whoever can’t take the realness behind this needs to keep it moving.

  41. SL says:

    What I’m impressed with is the honesty in this post regarding the pressure from external forces and extremely mixed feelings in regard to these abortions. While I wouldn’t call myself ‘pro-life’ as I don’t want to associate myself with those people, I don’t like abortion, and I don’t think it’s something I could have done myself (and thus made every effort to not be in that position!), I’ve found myself feeling angry and judgemental at times when I’ve heard or read the opinions of some staunchly ‘pro-choice’ women who seem to glorify the right to abortion to some sick level where they appear to revel in the act of ending a fetus’ life. However, when I read an honest and sincere testimony to the difficulty and regrets that come with the choice of abortion, it softens my heart and reminds me that abortion is not as black-and-white for most women as those people in the extreme portions of this debate would like it to be.

    Penelope, if there is anything good I have learned from reading your blog, it is that I should not wait for the perfect time to have children in regards to my career. Thanks for all of your honesty about your personal life, it’s really invaluable.

  42. Columcille says:

    If you look at the data, 60+% of the abortions in this country are of college age women who abort their babies in very similar circumstances.

    It isn’t for the health of the mother.
    It isn’t because of rape or incest.

    It is to preserve the idealized vision of career potential coupled with lack of emotional and financial support from the father and extended family.

    Conception takes place within the context of recreational sex between two people “playing house” together, without a mature recognition of what sex is and what it is for and what it demands of us.

    Our culture is consumerist in its approach to sex, relationships, life meaning and life itself.

    Your story is not unique, it is really very typical. Know this, a civilization can not stand for long on this as a foundation.

    • Noah says:

      Wow, the spokesperson for sex AND civilization! You must be very busy!

      I’ll tell you what, when civilization crumbles, feel free to say you told us so. Seriously, were you expecting to change anyone’s mind with this tripe?

    • Valerie says:

      You sound like a mature person. Prepare to be blasted.

  43. Nat says:

    Made the same choice 3 years ago now. Every now and then, the reality of the choice hits me: seeing a newborn, watching my friend’s child grow who is the same age that my baby would have been. The other realities of my choice present themselves as well: a BA, a successful start to a career, an end of that earlier relationship, a greater disposable income, and I am sure, more to come. Doubtless, I would be happy and successful with a 3 year old; however, my life would look very different than it does now. There are a lot of us out there, it is time we shared our stories. Thank you.

  44. M says:

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog for a while but never posted before now. Thank you for posting about a subject that is normally so secretive. Many, many women in America have abortions – 1, 2, or more – and very few talk about it. I have worked at feminist organizations for many years, including working with women who need abortions, and one thing I have learned for sure – no one else can decide for you how to handle a pregnancy. I don’t think anyone who has not been in the situation can say honestly what they would do or how they would feel if they were pregnant and didn’t want to be.

    I also appreciate the earlier comment that said “no regrets.” Many women are confident that they made the best choice to have an abortion – best for themselves, their spouses, their families, their children…although it is not an easy choice it is often the best one, made for good reasons.

  45. j says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I, too, have had an abortion, but my story is somewhat different. I never felt like I was killing a baby and I’ve never had any regrets. Yes, the procedure itself was unpleasant. But, for me, nothing was worse than the moment I found out I was pregnant.

    • a says:

      My experience was the same. I never felt bad for it afterward but I hated being in that situation in the first place. I cried when I found out I was pregnant and hated that I’d have to get an abortion, but absolutely knew that this was the right thing.

      I now have a child with the same guy as the aborted pregnancy, and having that child under different and better circumstances only underscores that I did the right thing.

  46. Susan says:

    I too had an abortion at the age of 27 (and yes, I was on birth control. Newsflash – no method is 100% effective). I did not have an abortion to “save my career” – I had one because I believe I am totally unsuited to raising children. 13 years (and no children) later, I still believe this to be true. Parenting a child requires certain abilities, personality traits – and above all, an enthusiasm for the job. To become a parent while lacking any of the capabilities necessary to be a good one is profoundly irresponsible.

    thanks for tackling such a difficult topic.

  47. Mickey says:

    Penelope,

    My heart is saddened for you and your loss(es)…know that you and all the post-abortive women who’ve posted here will be in my prayers today.

    I think it is necessary for pro-choice women to read eachother’s statements and understand they are not alone in their pain and silent suffering. I also applaud you for calling abortion what it is…the killing of a child and the wounding of a woman.

    For anyone who is interested, here is a resources for post-abortive women to seek healing: http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

    And more stories from women who have been through this terrible ordeal.

    http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/

    Peace and blessings to you and all.

  48. Irina I says:

    Wow, this is an extremely powerful post and look how many women it resonated with!

    Notice that, to this point, most of the negative and bashing comments about abortion are coming from men (I think 2 men vs. 1 woman). Which makes me think of a class I had on images of women in French cinema, where we saw all these films where women are often feared by men. I feel like those basher male readers view you as an uncontrollable fury (an image which I really love…by the way :-)) and are threatened by that.

    Which is not to say that I think all male readers on this blog are like that (little disclaimer). I was very happy to see a lot of supportive posts from both genders.

    Finally, look at how many women are thanking you for this post! It is truly a great one and you have touched many women with it.

  49. Jane Greer says:

    If this post has an underlying message, it’s this: “feelings” don’t necessarily reflect reality.

    One woman here said that she’s had an abortion but didn’t “feel” as if she were killing a baby. Hmmm. I don’t “feel” that this twelfth mohito will make me drunk, so it won’t, right?

    Another woman writes that she had an abortion because she was totally unfit to be a mother. It’s nice that she recognized that, but the reality was that if she had stopped thinking about herself for a while, her child could have had ANOTHER mother–an adoptive, loving, competent one.

    Arguments in favor of “choice” focus solely on the woman’s immediate “feelings” but don’t point out that feelings come and go while reality is with us always.

    • Susan says:

      I’m the one who feels I would not be a good parent.

      Yes, I was thinking about myself.

      Yes, it would have been very generous of me to go through pregnancy and allow another woman to raise the baby. As generous as someone who donates a kidney to save a stranger’s life.

      I’m not that generous. And no, you can’t force me to be. Anymore than you can force someone to donate a kidney if they don’t wish to.

      Yes, when it comes to my body – my feelings DO count.

      • Klaire says:

        Exactly!

        Feelings, thoughts, reason – it doesn’t matter the word choice. You did what you wanted with your body, and that’s your decision to make. It’s your life.

        I once looked into being a marrow donor after finding out how much they are needed to save living, conscious people. It turns out it’s nothing like donating blood! I feel a little guilty for not being generous enough to do it, but it’s my choice to make. We do not owe our bodies or time to others.

      • mary says:

        I understand what you are saying, but as far as I see it, and I am trying very hard to hear and be moved by women’s reasons for abortion, a kidney does not have a unique genetic profile, can never think, and once separated from the brain of the person from which it came, cannot feel pain. A fetus can.

    • Francine says:

      What guarantee does any woman have, should she decide to go through with a pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption, that it will be a) adopted in the the first place and b) adopted by a “loving, competent” mother? You are living in a dream world. In this country prospective adopters only want perfect babies, as another poster noted. They will travel to Russia, China, or Korea for a healthy baby, before they adopt one here that has even the slightest issue. If the aborted fetuses in Penelope’s case had turned out to have even the slightest “defects,” they would likely NOT have been adopted.

      • Mags says:

        It is simply not true that couples are not willing to adopt babies that are not perfect. There are waiting lists for those seeking to adopt children with Down syndrome.

    • Betty says:

      Don’t advocate adoption unless you have first hand knowledge of the trauma suffered by the adoptee FOR LIFE. Adoption IS NOT always the answer!

  50. Hillary says:

    As a 25 year-old navigating the first steps in my career and thinking about the big Future Decisions (e.g., kids v. no kids) I really appreciated your insight on this topic. Thank you for sharing your story and point of view so frankly – €“ I will always remember this post.

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