Abortion Journals: Inaccessibility can be Isolating

Abortion Journals: Inaccessibility can be Isolating

Welcome to Abortion Journals, where we are exploring a deeper conversation around abortion. We’re giving real people an anonymous platform to share their stories about having their abortion, and delving into all the layers of this complex experience. 

Age: 27
Occupation: Operations Manager
Relationship status: Married
Politics: Leftist/Socialist
Pronouns: She/her

Day 1: 3 months ago, I made the switch from hormonal birth control to a spermicide, Phexxi. After being on various hormonal options for 12+ years, I’m ready to give my body a break until my husband and I are ready for kids. Perhaps most importantly, I’d like to get to know who I am without additional progesterone. The process has been overwhelmingly positive - with Natural Cycles, I’ve been tracking my ovulation by temperature, and I’m feeling more in tune with my body than ever. My anxiety is down, energy is up, and for the first time, I’m able to feel when my period vs. when I took the placebo pill or removed the vaginal ring. One of the main signals that my period is coming is a headache the day before my cycle starts. According to the Natural Cycles app, I am supposed to start my period today. My headache never came. 

Day 3: Maybe this is just instinct, but I know that I’m pregnant, without a test. The anxiety is eating me alive, and I start to connect the dots between symptoms (an unusually upset stomach for a few weeks) and pregnancy. I haven’t told anyone yet, and I ordered some pregnancy tests online, telling my husband it’s “just to be sure”. 

Day 4: The tests arrive, and I rush to the bathroom. There is the faintest pink line, and my stomach drops. I laugh at the absurdity of it all - within 3 months of getting off birth control (and within 1 year of getting married), we were pregnant, and I knew immediately that I’d be getting an abortion. Kids are a part of our plan, and we know there is never a perfect time, but I’ve recently been laid off from work, and really, I’m not ready. We both love our life as it is right now, and we’re yet willing to sacrifice so much of our freedom and time for a child. We are on the same page about not wanting kids now, but ultimately, this is my decision. 

I call in my husband and we both stare at each other and the multiple positive tests, terrified of what comes next. I calculate how far along I am - 4 weeks and 6 days - and look up what my options are. There’s only one Planned Parenthood in my city that provides abortions, and it’s 30 minutes away. There are walk-in appointments for ultrasounds tomorrow from 8AM-9:30AM, and I need two appointments 24 hours apart to be prescribed the abortion pills, so I decided to make my way there in the morning. 

Day 5: When I arrive at PP at 7:55AM, there is already a line wrapped around the building. After standing outside for ~5 minutes, the staff let me know that they are fully booked for walk-ins and appointments for the day, gave me a form to fill out with my place in the waitlist line for the day (I’m 14th), and sent me on my way. At this point, I’ve given up on doing this “the right way”. Every other clinic in my city doesn’t take insurance, and I can’t afford $600 in ultrasounds and appointments for a doctor to tell me what I already know - I’m pregnant, 5 weeks, and I need an abortion before this goes on any longer. I placed an order on PrivateEmma, an online abortion provider who sends the pills to your home. It was about $140, and after filling out a quick form, they confirmed my order via email. 

Day 6: Now that most of the administrative stress is over, the waiting game begins, and my husband and I are emotionally processing what this means for us and our future, as a couple and future parents. We have talked about kids extensively, are both in solo therapy to work through our personal struggles and break any generational cycles. 

We talk through all of the questions this situation brings up: When will be the right time? 5 years? 10? What do we need to be ready? How old is too old to have a child? Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are we bad people for doing this when we have the means to take care of a child now? I’m forced to confront my own concerns - aging parenthood, fertility, finances, family, moving… the list is endless. My own struggles with perfectionism and fear of failing feel grossly overwhelming, and admitting to myself and others that I have to get an abortion feels like an embarrassing admission of failure. 

After a gentle but serious talk and a few tears, we reassure each other that abortion is the right choice for me and us right now, and set a few must-have goals before we start a family. While this is emotionally taxing, I’m so relieved after this conversation. I knew we were on the same page about waiting a few more years, but talking about our wants/needs/fears was validating and reassuring. 

Day 9: After a holiday weekend and a week that felt like a month, the pills arrive at my home at 5PM on a Friday. 

PrivateEmma doesn’t have a ton of information on the best way to take them, so I find some instructions on the r/abortion subreddit that thousands of other women have used, and commit to taking all of the pills that night. I took the first one orally, and took the other 4 vaginally. After about 3 hours, I started getting some moderate cramps, and after 5 hours, I had some very light spotting and small clots passing. The cramps intensified late into the night. I’ve never given birth, but it felt like what I imagine contractions would be like. Due to an upcoming medical procedure (scheduled before I found out about the pregnancy), I couldn’t take any pain medication, so I hunkered down for the night with a heating pad, hoping for some relief soon. 

Day 10-11: The cramps have slowed down, but I haven’t seen a clot pass that made me think the pills have worked. There’s not a lot of bleeding, just very light spotting. I’m deeply concerned that the abortion has not worked, and check reddit to find stories about other women’s medication abortions. Thank god for the internet - I find dozens of stories reassuring other women that abortions can take days, and since I’m getting cramps and bleeding a little, I think it’s working, just slower than I’d like. 

Day 12: Around 6PM, I go to the bathroom because I feel a rush of blood, like when your period comes. When I sit down, I see a huge clot, about the size of a golf ball, fall in, followed by a lot of blood, which is to be expected. I clean myself up and tell my husband that it happened, and together we cry some tears of relief, and while we settle into the couch to rest while he takes care of me, I am overcome with peace in my choice, in spouse and in family planning. 


I never felt any doubt that an abortion was the right thing for me, but I was sad to some extent. I do want a family, and I’m excited for that stage of life, so saying goodbye to that for now was emotional. However, I know what I want for my children, and I’m not able to provide that right now. I’m still working through some of the feelings of failure, embarrassment, and responsibility, something that I’ll have to unpack in therapy. 

Even with perfect use of Phexxi and Natural Cycles, I got myself stuck in my own worst case scenario. I’ve made an appointment to get a copper IUD inserted under general anesthesia, which is in high demand, and will take upwards of 3 months to get due to demand. The anxiety that comes with sex is at an all time high, and I don’t think I’ll feel fully safe with anything until I get the IUD inserted. I feel stupid for getting off of hormonal birth control that prevented pregnancy, and I’m incredibly frustrated with my limited options for obtaining a non-hormonal birth control. I’m enraged that the stories of women screaming in pain during IUD insertion have not been effective in convincing the majority of providers that anesthesia should be common practice. 

I’m grateful for websites like PrivateEmma, but I feel robbed of the feelings of safety without a healthcare provider walking me through the steps of my abortion. Even with my husband and friends supporting me completely, I felt alone and like there was no one to ask questions to. The inaccessibility of abortion in my state made the experience isolating, and even though it is legal here until 16 weeks, I still had to go to extensive lengths to get an abortion. It was prohibitively expensive and would have taken weeks to get an appointment at the only provider in town who takes insurance. 

I have always felt that medical care should be free and easily accessible, and my experience getting an abortion only reinforced that belief. No one should be left at home to figure out how to terminate a pregnancy without a medical professional to call. The anxiety I felt dealing with this by myself will take years to unlearn. But looking back, I would absolutely do it again. For my mental health, my husband and I’s relationship, and my future family, I needed an abortion to give us time to grow into the people and parents we want to be.

If you would like to anonymously share your abortion story with the Abortion Journals, please email us at hi@hellowinx.com.

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