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?

633 replies
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  1. Carol
    Carol says:

    I thing there may be a generational thing here too. I’m about the same age as you P, and when I got pg at 29 I honestly thought abortion was the only option. It certainly had been the path taken by several of my friends, usually with the support of their mothers.

    Fortunately for me (and my son who will be celebrating his tenth birthday this weekend) my boyfriend (now husband) was very definite about wanting to keep the baby. For some reason I had assumed he would run scared, but he didn’t!

    Now I wonder what my reaction would be if my daughter came home pg at any age – and I think my response would be “keep it, we’ll work it out”.

    We were raised by women who saw motherhood as a trap and abortion as a much needed way out. With a huge amount of thanks to the work they did opening doors for us, I don’t think we’re as likely to see motherhood and career as mutually exclusive.

    • Dara
      Dara says:

      “We were raised by women who saw motherhood as a trap”

      Carol, you raise an excellent point that needs to be emblazoned in bold, written about and put on billboards. Some of the greatest roles (wife and mother) a woman can undertake in life have been degraded quite a bit in popular culture/among women.

      Yet, this is less true today than ever before. PT, was fed a lie by her mother and other women, and her post basically says that. A marriage and children will present challenges to your career that a single, childless woman doesn’t face (TRUE), but it is not the career-ender, trap, etc., that it is often presented as. Therefore, I think a lot of women “may” be having abortions under somewhat false pretenses…which I think is sort of what P is saying?

    • Kay Frommelt
      Kay Frommelt says:

      I found it breath-taking that Penelope would write about her abortions. Many of my Gen. Jones peers made this difficult choice but it remains closely guarded information. If more real-life stories were told, maybe the endless, spiral, polarizing debate about abortion would improve.
      There is long term psychic pain whether one chooses abortion or gives a baby up for adoption. The emotional toll can also involve the father. An unwanted pregnancy often destroys a relationship. It makes the partners aware of the profundity of sexual intimacy in a society that condones hookups. Sex as a recreational activity ignores this human dimension.
      The woman who wrote about her own decision at age 40 to become a mother was insightful and made me realize that the situation has fundamentally changed for younger women. Having a baby no longer means the end of a career. The workplace has changed and in doing so become more accommodating. In the late 70s and early 80s, having a baby out of wedlock usually led to harsh consequences and severely truncated opportunities for higher education and professional work.
      I have often wondered by Penelope and younger women appear so determined to bear and raise children when their interests and circumstances are not condusive to the task. Now I have an insight. They benefit from changed attitudes and laws and enjoy the support of their mothers or both parents. Their partners assume a larger share of the childcare work and enjoy knowing their children.
      We cant go back to a recent, barbaric time when women risked their lives to abort. Women will continue to need abortion for a wide variety of reasons in the US. In other cultures the ethics of abortion are different. The debate is about sex selection. Where there is inadequate birth control, many women are compelled to abort multiple times. Choices have expanded for this generation. They can choose to raise a child alone without bucking convention. Abortion is a decision that must not be made by a partner or parent. Fortunately the stigma of illegitimate birth is a thing of the past and in many situations a woman can count on the support of her partner and workplace as she embarks on motherhood.

  2. bfg
    bfg says:

    I’m another in the list of long time readers, first time commenters. I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I have always appreciated your honesty and candor…

    I have never had an abortion. I use various methods of birth control and have been in a committed relationship for many years with the same great guy. But I recognize that no method of birth control is 100% effective. And this is a conversation my boyfriend and I have had. Because we both know enough to know it is always a possibility. And the answer in our heads is that although we’re both pro-choice, we don’t know what we’d do. Abortion is a difficult, gut-wrenching choice. I don’t think adoption is any less of one. And keeping a child we aren’t equipped to support or parent in the way we would want to seems selfish to us and detrimental to the child. The reality, I think, is how can you know what you’d do with certainty if it hasn’t happened to you?

    Thank you for articulating the difficulty of one of the options in a series of choices I hope I never have to make.

    And thank you, too, for reminding us that there is no right time to have kids. There is no right time for anything in life. If you wait around for the perfect time for everything in life, you risk never doing anything.

  3. Kandeezie
    Kandeezie says:

    Someone said it beautifully here:

    There is only one reason that pregnancy should "scare" you: your culture hates women and kids. It especially hates teenage women. It especially hates pregnant teenage women. It especially hates teenage pregnant women who get knocked up under unapproved circumstances.

    Let’s apply that to everything. Commerce shouldn’t only revolve around men and their reproductive cycles. And the guilt that people feel changes from country to country. The US is notorious for placing guilt on women and how they choose to control their own bodies, while telling the world that they’re the “Land of the Free” and the “best country on the planet”. For greedy straight white christian men, yes. For everyone else, go to hell.

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      oh thank you for expressing this so clearly!

      as a gen-xer who grew up puzzled by these messages, it has only made my b.s. antennae more sensitive when it comes to hearing men (and the women they control) come down on PT for her honesty. they not only read whatever they want to, they are also more than ready to pounce upon anyone who admits they made a difficult and regrettable decision more than once in their lives.

      these are the people who don’t fill her shoes (or live in her potential), but are very ready to tell her that the solution is to carry to term a fetus that may not have any better life as an adoptee, nor are they offering this baby their home and sacrifices necessary to raising a well-adjusted adult. it’s always someone else’s job to do that.

      these are the same people who think killing the abortioner is the answer, and that gay people have no right to marry and enjoy a legally-recognized family life.

      yes, only in america do we fight to maintain the right to deny others their rights, as long as it suits our personal ideology–conflating their “love” for god (and interpreting his word) with their well-founded hate for humanity. why on earth are they lurking about on career blogs, anyway?

      to dan, ms. greer, and others who spew nonsense guilt trips and “evidence” that god punishes your body when you abort, may someone, some day save your children from your ignorance.

  4. Julie
    Julie says:

    I appreciate your honesty. I had an abortion the summer after my sophomore year in college ten years ago. I loved the father at the time but knew that we were not in it for the long haul. I faced raising a child in that atmosphere, quitting college to give birth and adopt amidst public scrutiny, or having an abortion. I had the abortion and never looked back. I do not sit and contemplate how old that child would be or what that child would look like today. I have no feelings of regret. Instead, I have a successful career, am finishing an advanced degree, and every night return home to a man that I love unconditionally and our beautiful 13 month old son. Life could not be better and I am at peace with MY choice.

  5. caroline
    caroline says:

    Having had an abortion when I was 20 as i didnt want to deal with a child when i felt so youg, you can imagine my devastation at now being infertile. Im 37 have been trying for 5 years with 3 failed IUIs 3 failed IVFS and 20,000euro lighter (blocked tubes, so no miracle baby possible) I now bitterly regret that abortion. all i know is that i would give anything or give up anything to have children. Career is so unimportant when you cant have family. When family, friends and neighbours get to have kids and you dont the pain is intolerable. You feel so left out,so disconnected. Now I work for myself for the simple reason that I can avoid having to listen to moms at work complain/boast/both about their offspring as I just might give go crazy. You are very lucky to have had 4 pregnancies (though you chose abortion for 2 of your babies) and then to have 2 kids in your late 30s. There are many thousands of women like me who can’t gamble on waiting till their late 30s to have healthy children. So please be careful as for many women they leave it to late to get pregnant (our fertility drops from age 30, rapidly declining from age 35 and for many tey are infertile by age 38-40), be grateful for your own fertility and ability to have kids and career. Not all of us have that choice.

    • funkright
      funkright says:

      adopt.. there are many unwanted children out there and you sound like someone who could provide the love they need.

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      True Caroline, I bet most women who abort probably get what they have coming to them later on in life. It’s simply justice. Either you want children later, end up with special needs children, or like my sister’s friends, are stuck with nightmares of your infant coming at you with a knife in her hand.

      I bet NARAL doesn’t teach about that.

      By the way, I know many who would love to adopt who can’t have children and there is unlimited demand to adopt babies.

      • Kerry
        Kerry says:

        So, Dan, you think having a special needs kid is some sort of punishment?

        Even if that characterization of millions of children were correct…what about people who have special needs children who haven’t had an abortion? What sin are they being punished for?

        And is the reverse true? When we see “perfect” children, should we infer that the parents earned those children by being perfect themselves?

        I’m really interested in the logic here.

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        Kerry, there is undisputed evidence that abortions make it more difficult to have healthy children. Sorry that your left wing “choice” at all costs public schooling didn’t teach you that, but yes, you reap what you sow.

        Personally, had my daughter been born with two heads, special needs, one eye, or whatever it wouldn’t have mattered one iota to me, I love her for the wonderful gift that she is, not a choice at all.

      • Kerry
        Kerry says:

        Dan, I never made a “choice,” so I’m not sure why you’re casting aspersions here. I don’t think I mentioned anything about my schooling either.

        I just find it interesting that you think having a special needs kid is a punishment. You’re essentially saying, “Hey, kid, you’re messed up because your mom is a whore.” Even if you’re pro-life, characterizing a kid’s struggle as a punishment for the parent is unkind at best.

        I would say that there are probably other parents that also feel that their children are a gift, and don’t appreciate having you characterize them as a burden, especially a burden that the parent deserved.

        But I think it’s unlikely you and I are going to come to an agreement here, so I’m going to go back to work.

      • Jack
        Jack says:

        Dan: “Kerry, there is undisputed evidence that abortions make it more difficult to have healthy children.”

        Dan, care to provide a link or two to this undisputed evidence?

      • Ishtar
        Ishtar says:

        I bet most women who abort probably get what they have coming to them later on in life. It’s simply justice. Either you want children later, end up with special needs children, or like my sister’s friends, are stuck with nightmares of your infant coming at you with a knife in her hand.

        None of those things happened to me. I had an abortion at 19, and at 25, had a wonderful child. She’s not only healthy and beautiful, but smart. At 13, she’s carrying a 3.8 GPA, has a ton of friends and is physically active. She hasn’t gone hog-wild crazy over boys like some of her peers, and when she does think about a boy she might like, they are always “sweet geeks.” (She doesn’t seem to have inherited the “bad boy” thing from me!)

        I have never regretted the abortion, and it was 20 years ago now.

        Maybe you shouldn’t paint with such a broad brush.

      • Liz
        Liz says:

        You sound pretty gleeful about the idea of something bad happening to another person. Hate is hate, whether you think you have a good reason or not. If you oppose abortion, well ok, that’s your right. What you don’t have, is the right to wish harm on someone else. The fact that you’re using this issue to promote violence makes me question what’s really going on. Do you really think someone can deserve “a special needs” child, and that’s a punishment? For what, exactly?

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      Sorry Kerry, just saying that if you kill your baby, there are going to be penalties to pay, you reap what you sow. Sure, I think special needs kids are a blessing, but Penelope does not, so they are a hassle for her and I am not part of this feminine lovefest you are holding.

      Thank God for conservatives or there wouldn’t be any children, at least ones that aren’t in jail, divorced or killing more babies.

      • abdpbt
        abdpbt says:

        Thank God for conservatives or there wouldn’t be any children, at least ones that aren’t in jail, divorced or killing more babies.

        . . . or closeted homosexuals meeting in bathrooms in airports, or gay-bashings, or black men tied to trucks and dragged to death, or faux Crusades in the service of oil interests in the Middle East, or religious hypocrisy . . .

        the list goes on and on, really.

      • Deseret Rousseau
        Deseret Rousseau says:

        BTW she never said she has special needs kids. You should apparently re-read her article.

      • thatgirlinnewyork
        thatgirlinnewyork says:

        sure, dan–just conservatives who decide to trip off to bueno aires for a fling, leaving a wife and four sons to founder–but at least he refused those stimulus funds!

        while you’re so quick to tell women how to lead their lives, why not begin your preaching with your own, morally-bereft brethren?

    • thatgirlinnewyork
      thatgirlinnewyork says:

      while i’m sorry for your condition, it’s very likely that your tubes were as blocked when you were 20 as they are now. how do you know you could have carried to term? women who can carry OR make the decision to abort don’t owe you an apology, as bad as you feel. perhaps your revelation to have children should have come earlier in life, as most women who try to become pregnant after the age of 28 are considered older and at risk by medical science, and have for some time.

  6. funkright
    funkright says:

    After I read this line ‘I got two abortions to preserve my career…’ I almost jumped down to the comment section to tell you what a sick b*tch I thought you were..

    but then I read the whole article.

    My heart aches for your realization, after the fact, that the choice you made needn’t have been the one.

    Do your best by your children and trust that they’ll have clearer opportunities where they will not be placed in the same position and with the same advice you received.

  7. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    From a comment above:

    “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.”

    So… people either don’t have sex EVER unless they are ready to commit to a child OR have sex but only if they are committed to your preference of adoption?

    Pro-choice or Pro-life… let me make this clear IT IS JUST YOUR OPINION. No one has the right to enforce their opinion on anyone else and yammering about it or berating a blog columnist will certainly change laws and make everyone see your point I’m sure.

    Penelope, great post. It doesn’t matter if I agree with your life choices or not (I believe a wise man once said… let he who has not sinned cast the first stone) I appreciate the fact that you write openly about your life and people are able to feel better/worse/anything after reading your blog. You make people think, feel emotion, react with your writing and that is what a good writer does.

  8. Jadelyn
    Jadelyn says:

    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.

    Bullshit. Complete and total bullshit. YOU felt that way, and I’m sorry for your suffering. But as another woman who has had an abortion – as a woman who has had an abortion and has never regretted it for a second, who honestly has to calculate mentally to figure out how many years ago it was, who only thinks about it when someone reminds me – don’t you DARE try to tell me I’ve “never stopped thinking about the baby I killed.” I didn’t kill a baby. I stopped a pregnancy that would have resulted in a baby after nine months. Big damn difference. Kindly refrain from claiming to speak for all women who have had abortions. You don’t have that right. Nobody does.

    • Joselle
      Joselle says:

      I saw Jadelyn’s comment after posting and I must say I agree with her. Not all women are traumatized. And she’s right, you didn’t kill a baby and neither did she.

      And we can’t speak for anyone but ourselves.

      • Dara
        Dara says:

        It’s odd that you say we can’t speak for anyone but ourselves and yet you say to PT “you didn’t kill a baby.”

        There are obviously two very different opinions on this so don’t speak for PT either.

    • Ariella
      Ariella says:

      I completely agree with Jadelyn’s comment. Just because you, Penelope, are suffering through guilt as a result of your abortions does not mean that every woman who has ever had an abortion suffers the same guilt.

      I think it is great that you opened up this sensitive topic on your blog. I think it has only a tenuous connection to the topic of your blog, at best, but I see where you’re coming from. But to automatically assume that “every woman” who’s had an abortion has the same feelings of guilt and regret that you have is going a little far; projection much? Since you’ve been through so much therapy, I assume you’re familiar with that topic.

      • Jack
        Jack says:

        “…I think it has only a tenuous connection to the topic of your blog, at best..”

        There is a tenuous connection between my reply and your comment, but in answer to your thought here, the connection of the issue is not to the career aspect as much as it is to the brazen aspect.

        Sometimes I wonder whether this was written to give career advice ‘at the intersection of work and life’, or whether it was to be a brazen post that would attract controversy and comments, and therefore readership. Given the trend of the past few blog postings, I am unfortunately inclined towards the latter.

      • AG
        AG says:

        I think Jadelyn sounds a little hostile and over-defensive. Maybe there’s a little more feeling behind her abortions than she cares to admit.

  9. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    Penelope, thank you for sharing your story, even while knowing you would most likely get a shitstorm of judgmental comments.

    For those who think you are exploiting your life and seeking attention, I don’t see this post or any of your writing in that way at all. In fact, as a writer myself, I know there’s probably lots you keep hidden and protected. We tell our stories because we have to. It’s important for us to tell our stories–especially about abortion, pregnancy, and parenting–because some women find abortion traumatic, some women find it a relief and no one response is the right one. Abortion, pregnancy, and becoming a parent are things we all deal with on some level, either intimately or indirectly. And almost no one tells the truth about any of them.

    Thank you for telling your truth.

    Thank you also for saying that there is never a convenient time to have children. Really, there is never a convenient time to do anything that matters in life. It will always be a bomb going off in your life. Which is why you’ve just got to do what you want, realizing that means there are probably two or three other things you’ll have to say no to in that moment.

  10. nelking
    nelking says:

    Times have changed and I think those of us who came after the first wave of trailblazing women do have more options. There are more men that want an equal role in parenting, and I agree, if you want a career and children all you need is the will to do it.

    So, the conversation needs to continue to be how do we reduce the number of abortions while leaving the right to have one in place? (and abstinence isn’t it) And I think this is a conversation that those who are Pro-Choice are wanting to take on. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

    • mysticaltyger
      mysticaltyger says:

      Thank you for saying this nelking. Morally, I consider myself pro-life. But when you have over 1,000,000 abortions in the US each year, you just realize that making it illegal will not make abortion go away.

      We all need to focus on is reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies that lead to abortion. That will require a multi-pronged approach.

      I don’t agree that abstinence isn’t part of that approach. It most certainly needs to be. However, it certainly isn’t the ONLY one.

      Some countries, like the Netherlands, have managed to keep abortion BOTH LEGAL and RARE. That is what we need to do here in the US, as well.

  11. Teresa Jay
    Teresa Jay says:

    I wept when I read this. Almost thirteen years ago, in a city where I knew almost no one, I did NOT have the abortion. Instead, I freelanced for nine months, then drove myself to the hospital where I had the baby, alone. Later, I lost a few friends who wouldn’t stop insisting I was ruining my career, even as the beautiful baby girl learned to walk and do the princess wave. A couple months ago, I lost my job, in a city where I know almost no one. A week later I wept while that beautiful girl – the one I shouldn’t have had? – brought the house down as the star in her school’s production of Annie. I still don’t have any idea how I am going to support her. I just know that I’m always glad I didn’t let anybody else choose for me.

    This is the most important thing anybody has ever said on the subject of abortion and careers. “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.” This time I wept because I don’t understand why we are still pressured to equate families with ruined careers. Thank you for having the courage and the heart to be so frank with us.

    • bill
      bill says:

      “This time I wept because I don’t understand why we are still pressured to equate families with ruined careers.”

      Very well said!

      • Dara
        Dara says:

        Amen, and how much do we ignore the scenarios of successful careers equating to ruined lives/families? Hence, “the intersection of work and life,” eh?

  12. EG
    EG says:

    As someone who can’t have children, but desperately wanted to be a mother, this post made me sick to my stomach. I’m so glad that my daughter’s birthmother chose making an adoption plan over an abortion.

    I know you don’t care, Penelope, but I have unsubscribed my self from your blog.

    • Klaire
      Klaire says:

      People who get pregnant against their will are not the breeding sows for those who can’t get pregnant.

      • ioana
        ioana says:

        >>People who get pregnant against their will are not the breeding sows for those who can’t get pregnant.<<

        Excellent.

    • Mags
      Mags says:

      Rape and incest victims may “get pregnant against their will.” Those who have consensual sex gamble (knowing that birth control carries a risk of failure) and lose. It’s like comparing a guy who lost his shirt in a poker game to a guy who was mugged. Neither one of them wanted to lose all their money, but the gambler is not an innocent victim.

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    This is why I read your stuff – you aren’t afraid to say what’s on your mind. I applaud your honesty and bravery. Keep it up!

  14. anne
    anne says:

    Many women have had an abortion because of college or career goals. Interestingly, many of these drop out of college and fail to reach their career goals. Like you, women can’t stop thinking about it, some more than others, leading to depression and destructive lifestyles. Abortion has a terrible impact on the individual, as shown by scientific research. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged the harmful effects of abortion on women (Carhart v. Gonzales). Women are beginning to talk about what abortion has done to them now. Many will stuff their feelings, but a decade or more later it will haunt them. Many never tell anyone. They suffer in silence. Abortion changes you.

    • Klaire
      Klaire says:

      This isn’t usually the case. Stop cherry-picking from poor studies just because they agree with you. Most studies show that there is no “post-abortion syndrome.”

  15. Alexis Grant
    Alexis Grant says:

    Thanks for your honesty. Regardless of what side of this issue readers are on, it helps us understand one another when we hear such an honest, frank perspective.

  16. Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook
    Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook says:

    Wow. Very intense post. I admire your ability to share the most intimate details of your life. I don’t know how you do that. It’s something that baffles me, because I don’t think I could do it if our situations were reversed, but it’s also why I love reading this blog. If you want honesty and vulnerability – Penelope’s blog is a good place to get it.

    I don’t have any interesting insight into abortion. I think it’s one of those really tough social issues. Since I’m a man, I’ve never been there, so I don’t know what it’s like. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have done it…but I really don’t know. I was born to two 15 year olds who talked at length about getting an abortion. I’m glad they ended up choosing to let me be born.

    In any case, thanks for sharing. – Todd

  17. Leanne Chase
    Leanne Chase says:

    Thank you once again for being so open and honest. It is not something many women or mothers are good at – but you are amazing at it.

    Keep it up – not matter what silly, mean comments you may get here. Your audience truly appreciates your point of view and your life lessons.

  18. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    I have always been strongly pro-choice, but after reading this, I can’t help but want to be pro-life. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Erika
    Erika says:

    Thank you for having the courage to write this. I find it interesting that in general your blog is about encouraging people to sacrifice things in the name of a career. Time, sanity, wardrobe, be taller, be prettier, etc. The conclusion I'm drawing from this post is that a child is something that should NOT be sacrificed in the name of a career.

    That's a powerful message, coming from you, and I'm so glad that you shared it with us.

  20. Dree
    Dree says:

    You mention two different guys who supported your decision to abort. Certainly, you had the final say, but I wonder about men and abortion as well. Do they think about it down the road? Wasn’t their uterus getting scraped of a little ball of tissue at a Planned Parenthood; kind of leaves a much fainter taste in the mouth to send someone else off for such a procedure, I would think.

    With all that, I’d be curious to see the experiences of men involved in the decision to abort – I definitely read the few male comments on here with interest. And, as far as those corporate power players you’re always doing intensive fieldwork on, do they support it? Have most men sitting at the long table in a boardroom driven their honeys to a Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives? Are their reasons similar to the ones you laid out above?

    • A Man
      A Man says:

      My then girlfriend, now wife, had an abortion nine years ago. I already had two teenage daughters at the time, and she had no children by her first husband, by her choice. We were in our late 30’s/early 40’s at the time. Her mind was made up the minute she was late for her period. I knew I had to be supportive, and be with her through throughout the process, but I didn’t feel I had any standing in trying to suggest alternatives. I know I can in no way relate to the agony of the choices women face, but as a man, it’s hard to relate the extreme difficulty of facing the issue of an unborn child compared to the woman you love. People with militant political views can’t begin to understand what that does to a person.

      I think of that unborn child often.

      By every rational standard, it made sense. Our life together is very good now, and the topic has never been discussed. But as I enjoy Father’s Day this Sunday with my now 20-something daughters, I will wonder about that possible 9-year-old.

      • Dree
        Dree says:

        Thanks for that. Although women bear the burden of physically bearing a child, the man involved also sees his life significantly impacted by having a kid.

        It doesn’t make sense to say that an abortion wouldn’t also have an impact on the male partner, even though I don’t think it’s talked about very much.

  21. Maus
    Maus says:

    Thank you for this post P. It, and the comments it has engendered (pun fully intented), have exposed superbly the banality of evil. Despite your bitter regret, you simply cannot bring yourself to state explicity and unequivocally that you made the wrong choice, twice, for the wrong reasons. You hedge in order to preserve your pro-choice street cred. It is hardly a lesson to tell others you’ve suffered. Those who do evil must suffer the consequences. It would be justice now if at least one of your investors had the courage to withdraw his or her support for your company, since your “career” was your overriding good. But I hope rather for mercy, because you at least suggested to other women contemplating a similar choice that they don’t have to choose abortion. “Pro-life” and “pro-choice” would be terms without distinction if more women chose NOT to abort. If you lead just one woman to forgo an abortion because of your post, it will be a mitzvah.

  22. F
    F says:

    I wrote earlier that I am impressed that Penelope shared this with us; I still am it takes a great deal of courage to share such a personal, and controversial, topic. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised about the actual abortions. In male-dominated, or previously male-dominated, fields having a baby can really put a crimp in a woman’s career, and not in a man’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if many woman have to wrestle with this choice, especially in fields like mine where most people aren’t established until their late 30’s, or more often, their 40’s.

  23. Male poster
    Male poster says:

    @Dree – it’s also interesting to note that men in politics are much more aggressively pro-life and judgmental than their female counterparts. It’s easier for us to treat the issue as black & white.

    Even when using birth control, the risk was enough to make me finally commit to a vasectomy – and I’m only 28. My wife and I are fairly certain we don’t want kids, but if we change our minds later we are happy to consider adoption. But we are absolutely certain that we don’t want the drama and lifelong emotional stress that comes with making a hard decision about abortion.

    Men, if you want to know what it is like to make a hard decision over a nuanced matter, think seriously about getting a vasectomy.

  24. MZA
    MZA says:

    While it’s so expected that 75% of the comments on the post would miss the point of the post, it’s infuriating to see all of the ‘how dare you abort your babies because I/my sister/my cousin/my neighbor can’t have one’ comments.

    Give. Me. A. Break.

    Adopt.

    You, your sister, your cousin and your neighbor have your choice of children to adopt. They’re probably not all tiny little babies. They may also be of a different race. But if this is a problem, you may want to rethink parenting in general.

    • caroline
      caroline says:

      MZA and those of you who preach adoption as an answer to infertility,
      Yes of course you are right, it is a workable solution for someone who wants to raise a child and it is the best outcome for many people who cannot produce their own flesh and blood.
      But as a psychologist who happens to be infertile, there is a necessary grieving process to come to terms with being unable to carry on your own bloodline, it is such a traumatic thing to happen to a couple who want a family. The added torment of failed fertility treatments and the financial cost of this route is something that has to be experienced to be believed.
      You cannot be a responsible adoption parent until you have grieved the loss and this can take years. And the adoption agencies need to see that you have come to terms with your grief and have ended your treatments before you can begin the long journey of adoption. It is not for everyone, not all of us are cut out to adopt. I dont think its selfishness, its just that it’s a primal deep rooted thing to want your own child and see the continuation of your family line in grandchildren as well and you need to grieve this loss. Would you say to someone who lost a child that they should adopt? I hope not!

      • Amy
        Amy says:

        I can appreciate it is a grieving process for those who cannot procreate, making it even more irrlevant to others decisions to do it or not to do it.

        Recently, there was a kick ass job that I turned down to the chorus of “think how many people out there don’t have a job, how could you do that”?

        The theory is really the same. If PT had given the child up for adoption there would be the opportunity to parent this child by someone else. I gave up the job offer so there is the opportunity to take this job for someone else.

        But the fact of the matter is they won’t hire someone else for that job at this time because it was made for my skill set and I was recruited to it. And most of the time, people who suffer from infertility aren’t looking to adopt “just missed the abortion procedure babies” – instead they are just pissed off and mourning not being able to get what they want how they want it.
        So I will agree with Caroline’s point, infertile couples (and anyone who fails in a goal they have structured their life to live) need to grieve, so what us fertile people do with our potential or actual fetuses isn’t going to help them make it through that personal process.

  25. Nicole M
    Nicole M says:

    I understand that the focus of this post was that there is no right time to have children. That being the case, there should have been more focus on that point, once you linked it with the abortion part. Too much emphasis there is going to bring alot of bad reactions to your post.

    I would like to see you expand more upon the ability to have a successful career and children at the same time.

  26. lola
    lola says:

    P: thank you so much for telling your story. It takes courage and integrity to be forthright about the paths our life take in such a public forum. I, too, had an abortion, and I too, have a child now. I still wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t aborted that baby. It’s something I will always live with. And I feel that all women should have the option to make their decision for themselves.

  27. A Mom
    A Mom says:

    Thank you for telling this story. Until I became a Mom, I, too, had bought into the whole “Wait until the right time” nonsense that I had heard since I was in elementary school. After the baby (in my thirties) I realized there was no right time. Hah, hah. My old job, though high paying, was pretty lame.

    I don’t work now and I love it. I’m outdoors most of the time and I can make pies and bread. Watching my kid grow up is a HOOT. Sure, I do housework, but that’s better than going to meetings and staying late at work and office politics. I threw away all of my programming books recently. Hallelujah!

  28. TB
    TB says:

    Thank you P for this post. As a woman who is at the beginning of my career I have struggled so much with when to have kids and this has just confirmed my belief that I should have them whenever I’m ready and not when my career is ready. I’m lucky to have many examples of women in my life who had children young and today have extremely successful careers but that may also depend on your idea of success. My own mother had me at 23, my brother at 25 and since then has changed careers about 7 times.

    It makes me very upset that there is still this strong societal pressure for women to do it all and we (women) are the ones who make it worse for other women. I wonder if you would have made different choices had you not had the pressure put on you not just by your mother but by society in general to have this amazing career.

    I’m interested to know what happens to men’s careers when they take parental leaves versus women.

  29. C.
    C. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for your honesty.
    I am sorry you had to go through those experiences.

    I had an abortion when I was a single mom. I knew my boyfriend and I were not long term, and I could not be the single mom of two children. (Birth control failed, if that matters to any of the “pro-lifers” out there.)
    You’re right. It is absolutely not a decision women make lightly, and anyone who thinks it is has never been there and has never known someone who has (or has made that person feel so ashamed that she’ll never open up to them).

    I have two kids and am in a happy, stable family now.
    Careers may not be a “good” reason. Survival may be.
    Let’s all stop judging until we walk in someone else’s shoes.

    Again, thank you for being brazen about this difficult topic.

  30. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for showing that a choice to have an abortion is always a difficult one. Thank you for bringing real perspective to the subject.

  31. anne
    anne says:

    This post was really touching. I actually shed a few tears, because it brought up my own what-if questions, even though I’ve never had an abortion. I’m 32 and I always thought I would be married with at least 1 or 2 babies by now. Instead I’m single and not sure if I will ever be a mom, because I’m wondering if I will ever meet the right man. So basically, whether you’ve had an abortion or not, there will always be what-ifs. Although, I think that the what-ifs involved in terminating a pregnancy must be heartbreaking on a level that I can’t fully understand, because I’ve been fortunate enough to never be faced with that decision.

    I have had a few scares, though. In high school, at age 16, when my period was almost a month late, I knew that I would probably have an abortion if I was pregnant. It would have been a very tough choice and I don’t know if I could have gone through with it after all- but I didn’t feel like I would have been strong enough to handle a pregnancy, much less a child. Then, when I was 29 and had a pregnancy scare, I knew in my heart that I would want to keep it, even though the potential father was an asshole. As bad as it sounds, I was a little disappointed (but mostly relieved) to get my period.

    Thank God I wasn’t pregnant after all, but it made me realize that maybe casual sex is more than I can handle at this point in my life. I know that if I had an accidental pregnancy, abortion would not be an option for me. I really don’t want to turn my fun, no-strings-fling guy into the father of my baby.

    Anyway, the point to my rambling would be that be that abortion is an incredibly personal and difficult decision, but then again, so is having a child. There just aren’t any easy answers. I’m actually kind of against 2nd/3rd trimester abortions, but would not want to make that choice for anyone else. While I might not ever opt for it, I can’t say what is right for another woman.

    • mysticaltyger
      mysticaltyger says:

      Thanks for mentioning the casual sex angle. I’m a gay man. I’ve had plenty of experiences of “casual” sex. At age 39 and after learning some things the hard way, I totally understand that there really is no such thing. Gay or straight, it doesn’t matter. Even putting aside the risks of disease and unplanned pregnancy, having sex with people you’re not committed to does has a high probability of real and lasting emotional damange. As with any risky behavior, the more “cauual” sex the greater the damage.

  32. Jill
    Jill says:

    I too have have gone through both the abortion process and even worked for Planned Parenthood. I’ve almost lost what I thought were solid friendships because of my choices for my body and for where I work and volunteer.

    Kudos to you for being brave to share your story. I commend you!

  33. Dave
    Dave says:

    Great article. I am pro-choice and a man. Therefore, I can only imagine the pain, confusion, ambivalence and fear that pervade making a decision such as the ones you made. I think though that as a society we’ve been fed this belief that you can have your cake and eat it to regarding reproduction and career. My wife and I found out the hard way that this is a lie. After four years of assisted reproductive therapy we now have one child, but we’d wanted more and certainly didn’t expect to go through as much as we did. Nature intends us to reproduce before our mid thirties, after that, it’s increasingly risky and harder to accomplish. Yet, society wants us to concentrate on building a life and we put off important decisions because it’s “inconvenient”. We need to make parenthood easier and more affordable in combination with better education regarding birth control and it’s use. This way we can avoid young women having to make the gut wrenching choices you did.

    • mysticaltyger
      mysticaltyger says:

      Good point about about needing to make parenthood easier and more affordable. We could start by streamlining high school and college so that people can graduate more quickly. The means less bureaucratic BS from colleges and universities and discarding the idea that the college years are supposed to be for partying. As things stand right now, it takes a lot of people 6 years to get a 4 year college degree.

  34. Clare
    Clare says:

    Great post and comments!

    One of the tedious things about living in Italy is that too often, your fertility and body are considered as public – rather than private – property. As I chose not to have children, I’ve found myself on numerous occasions having to try and explain my choices to incredulous women. (Men, strangely enough, don’t seem that bothered by my choice.)

    For those commenting that women are selfish to abort when so many can’t conceive, I’d say that you’re in danger of falling into this same mindset. Women are not baby-machines, owing it to society to repopulate. Our bodies are personal, as are our choices over our fertility.

  35. terrence
    terrence says:

    I have my own personal feeling about abortion but I don’t find it appropriate to impose it on others. It’s such a complex and personal issue that I don’t understand why many people want to apply a single, sweeping judgment on all situations and circumstances.

    The only part of the post that (initially) made me uncomfortable was the consensus advice, being given to Penelope from family and friends, that having a child in those cirumstances would “ruin” he career plans. I believe the better assessment is that an unplanned childbirth will “change” your career / life / relationships / etc — but individual circumstances will impact whether it is for better or worse.

    That seemed to be the thesis that Penelope was conveying toward the end, based on her further perspective and life experience.

    One of my sisters had 3 unplanned pregnancies, all on birth control (3 different methods!). The second and third were after she was married, but the first was while she was a senior in high school. She made the personal decision to have the baby, despite the fact that she already knew she was not going to marry her boyfriend. Religion was not involved in the decision, btw.

    I believe she made a significant sacrifice in terms of what she could have accomplished in the conventional definition of career / ambition, because the rest of her siblings have been pretty successful and she is every bit as talented and driven.

    Her decision changed her life in a profound (and especially in the beginning, very difficult) way, but it worked out. She eventually met and married a fantastic husband who adopted my oldest nephew and has been a wonderful dad to him and their other 3 children.

    My sister does not have a high powered job or career, but she has found ways to to fulfill her ambitions and define herself as successful, at least in my eyes. She’s taken all kinds of college classes and other learning seminars that have expanded her knowledge, skills and confidence. She is involved in community organizations that meaningfully impact her life and the people around her. And of course, she has a beautiful family. She’s an inspiration to me.

    For many women, making the same choice as Penelope is the right one — for the mother as well as the unborn child. I just hope it isn’t portrayed as the only one.

    By the way, I am not running for elected office but my sister approved this message.

  36. Joni Mueller
    Joni Mueller says:

    I laud you for having the courage to talk about a topic that a lot of people sweep under the rug. I am childfree by choice. I recognized very early on that I didn’t want children. And fate stepped in (hysterectomy at the age of 30 for cancer) to make sure I didn’t have any children.

    When I first started reading your article above, I wasn’t sure where you were headed with it. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be pregnant so in that respect, I cannot imagine what you felt during and after, and to this day.

    But this is a subject that galvanizes people in good and bad ways. I am thinking of the death of the “abortion” doctor and the brilliant lunacy of someone who so insouciantly kills human beings who kill what is arguably still only no more than a parasite in a woman’s body.

    And I also recently read an article here:
    http://www.limelife.com/blog-entry/Is-the-Workplace-Unkind-to-ChildFree-Women/5835.html
    that suggests the opposite of what you experienced in the workplace: That being childfree is a detriment to your career because you are perceived as lacking nurturing qualities and are cold and heartless. So … can’t win for losing, it would seem.

    Thank you for sharing your very emotional and compelling story.

  37. Ann
    Ann says:

    Holy crap to some of these comments. I applaud you for your honesty but this post just made me sad. I hope anyone who reads this that is trying to decide between career and children will think twice. Both take hard work but at the end of the day a career is just a job. It’s dangerous to have too much of your identy tied up in your “career”.

    • Meridith Levinson
      Meridith Levinson says:

      Playing devil’s advocate here: One could also argue that it’s dangerous to have too much of your identity tied up in being a mother. When the kids grow up and don’t need their mom any more, empty nest syndrome can be psychologically devastating.

      I don’t mean to down-play the importance of being a mother and the gratification that can come with it, but it’s certainly not the end-all, be-all for every woman, either.

  38. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    There are many difficult lessons learned here, both from your experiences, and from the discussions above. Let it be said, however, that no child is unwanted. There is an overwhelming abundance of infertile adoptive parents waiting endlessly with hope and open arms for the child that can only come to them by someone else’s “mistake.” Please consider (you, Penelope, and any of your readers here) that just because a child was conceived without intent, and would be an imposition to your career or otherwise stable life, does not mean the child should not get to exist. It is very respectable for a person to evaluate their state and determine that she or he is unfit for parenthood, but the backup plan should have more to do with getting that child to someone who IS dying to become a parent rather than simply eliminating its existence.

    • Rosie
      Rosie says:

      Let it be said, however, that no child is unwanted. There is an overwhelming abundance of infertile adoptive parents waiting endlessly with hope and open arms for the child that can only come to them by someone else’s “mistake.”

      Sure, if your unborn baby is white. If the above statement was actually true, there would be no children in foster care.

      • Michelle
        Michelle says:

        Which is precisely why our future child is not.

        I am certainly hoping that our culture and our churches will grow to take on an active role in caring for the orphans of America, and the world.

        However, having considerable knowledge of the requirements for foster caregivers, and comparatively those of adoptive parents, I see little comparison. In every way, it is much easier to foster than to adopt, and in many cases parents choose the fostering TO adopt track…which of course proves that foster care is also parenting given by those who would otherwise not have had the opportunity, had a mother not birthed and given up the baby she considered a mistake.

  39. Joni Mueller
    Joni Mueller says:

    I don’t think you should necessarily tie your identity to your children either.

    I think one point that is missed in all of this is if you don’t want kids, take steps not to have them — and be put in this position — in the first place. Because face it, not all people are meant to have children or be parents.

    But I do agree with you, Ann, that this is something that anyone who is sitting on the career versus mommyhood fence really needs to read.

    • Dara
      Dara says:

      I think some people need to realize that it MAY not be a career vs. mommyhood issue. I just got approached 4 weeks ago about a semi-promotion, more responsibility/higher pay role at my workplace due to some re-organization and I’m about two weeks away from my due date!

      Let’s be real ladies. Who you are is who you are. The only “traps” in life are the ones we allow to be traps. My workplace can see and realize I’m almost 9 mos pregnant, but they’re negotiating with who they know me to be as a worker/professional, not “a 9 mos pregnant lady.”

  40. Dan
    Dan says:

    My sister was in the same situation when she was 19, pregnant and didn’t even have a relationship with the father. My parents BEGGED her to keep her baby as that was the way she was raised, oldest of five kids, and we have loved him ever since. Mark is now 21 years old and attends Marquette University in Milwaukee, where my wife graduated from.

    He’s the light of my sister’s entire life. She never married. His father is still out of the picture living in Colorado, but in a strange twist of God’s will, both of his DIVORCED grandparents have taken an active interest in his life, even showing up for his high school graduation.

    I miss my daughter, 14 days old and at home while I slave away at work.

  41. Andi
    Andi says:

    Great post, Penelope.

    Kids and career are something I think about a lot. I’m 18, and when I was a kid, I never doubted having kids. Now, I feel torn between kids and career – probably because my mom didn’t pursue college when she had me. Of course, I’m not ready to have kids right now, but it’s still something I think about.

    Thanks for writing about this. Reading about successful women with kids is more empowering than hearing about people like Oprah who don’t have kids but are successful. Keep being awesome! =]

  42. Carly
    Carly says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I to have had two abortions, both times while I was on the pill. I do not want children and had taken every precaution to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. That being said, it was still a difficult thing to go through and a hard decision to make. The procedure was uncomfortable, and somewhat painful, but nothing compared to the absolute dread I felt when I found out I was pregnant. I am happy with my decision and have no regrets.

    I find it very sad that anyone would read this and take it as an opportunity to disrespect you. Shame on those of you that did. Bravo for speaking your mind about such a controversial subject.

  43. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    woo hoo! I saw the title of this post and knew the wild and wacky commenters would have a field day…check out Motherlode, Lisa Belkin’s NY Times parenting blog. She has been posting about a pregnant college student all week – same issues, different time in her life. Smart bloggers think alike!

  44. min
    min says:

    Hmmm…while I was reading this I kept thinking to myself, “doesn’t she know she could have a career and kids too?!”

    What a waste.

    At least you eventually learned that and are talking about your experience. I do think it’s strange that some people have a checklist to accomplish before they have kids. I can understand that. I have 3 kids and I sometimes wish I had the major career at the same time, but I made a choice to stay home with the kids. I love it, but career thoughts still creep in. I couldn’t maintain the two, but many women do.

    Interesting post…

  45. Jeanmarie
    Jeanmarie says:

    P, I’m one who has been reading for a while but never commented. I think that a lot of the comments are well thought out, on both sides. However, I find it interesting that those who are against the decision you made a long time ago feel the need to vilefy you. You clearly still feel guilty for your decisions, and no one can hurt us as much as ourselves. That being said, I had an abortion at the age of 22 which I have never regretted. I knew I wasn’t ready to have a child and neither was the guy I was with. I wasn’t sure I could give it up for adoption once it was born because I had been drinking during that time, since I didn’t expect to get pregnant. Using birth control is not 100%, every type has a failure rate of some sort. As for the silly statement that every time someone gets pregnant it’s because they want to- that’s just BS. I have never gotten pregnant since, even while I was married. Now I am with a great guy and neither of us wants children and are making sure that doesn’t happen as much as we possibly can. No matter what others say, I will never feel guilty for my choice because it IS my body, not theirs and they were not going to raise that child for me. All of those who like to judge others should remember that the Bible says “judge not lest you be judged yourself” and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Try to understand others rather than damning them.

  46. Jackie (not M.)
    Jackie (not M.) says:

    P – Thank you for sharing your story. I am always greatly appreciative and in awe of women brave enough to go public with their abortion experiences. You’re right when you say no one talks about it, yet everyone knows someone who’s had one.

    Thank you for helping other women who may be going through the same struggles.

  47. Dara
    Dara says:

    I am amazed once again by PT’s openess, but it’s obviously a huge topic to a career-related blog and even larger as a societal issue. I’m am staunchly pro-life and I feel incredible sadness for the struggles PT faced and may continue to deal with based on her decisions.

    I would be interested for PT to do a follow up if she has any data about women who actually have abortions for career/lifestyle convenience reasons(what it means career wise, mental health, etc) by the numbers versus women who choose to keep the child. I’d really love to know how much it affects outcomes. We all hear so much from proponents and opponents of abortion who don’t have any experience with it (including me). I’d like to know more from the women who actually have done it (both in scientific studies and qualitative stories like PTs).

    • L
      L says:

      Dara,

      I see many comments from pro-life people (even a pastor) above and while I am on the opposite side of the fence I respect theirs and your point of view. If more people were willing to listen we might be able to stop hiding and talk openly about it. And maybe if we talked about it openly, women would have more information when making the decision. We would definitely be more likely to seek the help we need to cope with it. Being pregnant is scary enough and an abortion is even scarier than that, we shouldn’t have to feel alone and afraid of public condemnation (or that of our loved ones).

      I had an abortion at age 17. I was an honor student and cheerleader, a good kid with real potential. I had always been pro-choice but when I learned I was pregnant I decided to keep the baby. My mother wanted to help me take care of it, my boyfriend wanted to get married and raise it together in our home town. My father was livid and irrational; he tried everything from threats to bribes to get me to have an abortion. He shamed me to the breaking point and I agreed to have the procedure. I did the best I could with the information and emotional maturity I had at the time. I don’t regret my decision, I have forgiven myself and I know it was the right thing for me.

      So I am happy to share with you my “outcome.” I’m crying as I write this because I just realized I have never talked about it before so I thank you in advance for your sensitivity…

      I moved out on my own before graduating from high school. I got emancipated from my parents and worked at a fast food restaurant to pay $50 rent for one room in a single-wide and buy food and gas. I lost my boyfriend and many friends when they found out what I'd done.

      But with merit scholarships, student loans, and two part time jobs I graduated from a state university in the top 10% of my class, one semester early. I got a job at a large consulting firm and am doing well. I've been promoted quickly and get high evaluations. I have been a “big sister” to a (now) 17-year old for 3 years; I volunteer at the Special Olympics, Boys & Girls Clubs, and participate in fundraising walks for the American Cancer Society and Avon Foundation. I’ve traveled often and lived abroad for over a year.

      I am trying to become a person who will have more to offer my future children than my 17 year old self could have given the child I didn’t have.

      Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have an 8 year old, but not very often. I don't look at my decision with sadness or shame or regret and I certainly don't think about it every day. I agree with PT, there is no "right" time to have a baby. But there are definitely "wrong" times and that was the case for me.

      Some women who’ve had abortions are unable to have children now – that is my greatest fear. It actively haunts me, not just a thought that occasionally crosses my mind. (To the person who commented above that you reap what you sow: please refrain from responding here. It was a heartless and hateful remark that doesn’t belong here or anywhere else in public discourse).

      If I became pregnant now, I don't know what I'd do. I'm not in a relationship and am certainly not financially able to support a child. I'm at the beginning of a good career that I don't want to give up. I would probably do it again, to be honest. I don't believe that a fetus is a baby or that abortion is murder.

      Thanks for inviting me to share my "outcome" with you, Dara.

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        You do reap what you sow. That doesn’t just go for abortion, that goes for any negativity or poor decisions you make in life.

        Since this is a career blog, it goes for burning bridges. If you burn a bridge and later find out that comes to haunt you, you have reaped what you have sowed. When I quit my last job in Taxconsin, I was extremely greatful to my employer, thanked them for hiring me, and asked if they would take me back and they said they would gladly. Should I ever need them again, and I am not arrogant enough to believe this could never happen, I will be in a much better position to get hired than if I had burnt that bridge.

        In that case, I will reap the consequences/benefits of my previous actions and the way I acted.

  48. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    I’m really glad you had those abortions. But they were for such selfish reasons. I am very pro-choice, but I think the reasons you had those abortions were very, very wrong. But it would be even more wrong to have such a selfish person try and raise children.

    The people I feel the worst for is your actual children, because I highly doubt you’ve changed, the tone of this post was just so… selfish. Your poor kids.

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      Ashley, I am pro life, but your comments are just ignorant. Why would you be pro choice and then admonish her for her reasons? Her reasons are her reasons. I never thought I would end up defending this action, which I don’t, but saying your pro choice, which is supporting infanticide, and then saying there are pre conditions to this is totally INCONSISTENT.

    • Klaire
      Klaire says:

      How dare she have goals and ambitions! How dare she think about herself! Doesn’t she know that she is a woman and thus her life should revolve around children?

      (sarcasm)

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        Klarie, I agree, I 100% support my daughter, now 18 days old, having goals and ambitions.

        However, if my daughter were to ever see a baby as a burden and not adding to her life, I will have 100% failed as a parent in raising her right, to know the difference between right and wrong, to be a good, loving person as God intends her to be.

        By the way, my non aborted “burden” of a nephew, born to my single sister at age 20 with the man no where to be found, is doing very well, thanks for asking.

  49. Grace B.
    Grace B. says:

    Thanks for sharing. Never had one. But, this post will definitely help those who are thinking about it. I had a baby two years ago, derailed my career a bit, but I’m right back on track. To all the career women out there…keep the baby. The other stuff will owrk itself out. You have no idea how strong and resilent the human spirit is :)

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