How to Listen When a Loved One Says I Had an Abortion

January 24, 2014

The first time I told a friend about my abortion, I was scared. Abortion was the topic of the day in ethics class, and I ditched. My friend asked why, and I told her: I had an abortion. She froze. She didn’t know what to say. We were both at a complete loss for words to talk about one of the most widely discussed social issues of our time. This month marks the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision affirming the right to an abortion. With so many states restricting access to abortion, and the Supreme Court discussing the constitutionality of buffer zones around abortion clinics, sometimes it feels like everyone is talking about abortion as a political issue, but no one is talking about it as a personal one.

The stats say that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion before the age of 45, but due to silence and stigma, they often don’t feel safe to talk about their abortion publicly. Research has shown that the presence of after-abortion emotional support can help those who need a listening ear, but these resources are few and far between. Many after-abortion support services are offered by anti-abortion advocates who only preach shame and repentance. In search of resources, I finally found a community of support that helped me break through six years of invisible walls and brought me closer than ever to my parents. I learned that many women in my family also had abortions and that the stats were true – I wasn’t alone. Now, I speak about my abortion publicly, with people who have had them and those who haven’t. In these conversations, the same question always arises – what is the right thing to say to someone after they’ve had an abortion?


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