Facing a Choice After Being Raped

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The latest in our series of abortion stories comes from a reader who went through a rollercoaster of life experiences:

First, a little background. I was the only child my mother didn’t abort (there were several pregnancies that I know of). My father was a heroin addict, and she left him before I could get to know him at all—probably a good choice.

However, my mother was also a drug addict, alcoholic, party fan, and incredibly promiscuous (in front of me). I often felt it would have been better if I had been aborted along with all my siblings; I still wonder sometimes. I have always been pro-choice, believing in every human’s right to bodily autonomy. For myself, however, I knew at a young age that I wanted children because I had been so raised so horribly. I knew I could do a better job.

I was fortunate enough to make it through university and got my degree in Developmental Psychology. I was surprised when I found myself married before getting pregnant, and we were ecstatic.

Sadly, at 13 weeks we found that I had a “blighted ovum,” where everything needed for the baby is present (placenta, sac), but there is no fetal pole, no fetus. I was devastated. My O.B informed me that my body would reabsorb the tissue and I would be fine. I wasn’t fine. I fell into deep depression and carried a non-viable pregnancy for three more excruciating weeks before finally going in for a D&C (same procedure as an abortion).  

My always abusive mother said to me later that day, “I don't see what you are so upset about; it was just a bundle of cells!” She had also always been pro-choice, but I also understood loss and compassion. Within three days I checked myself into a mental health clinic. I had become suicidal, my hormones were out of control, and my arms ached for the “baby” I couldn’t hold.

The marriage endured three more years and another miscarriage when we had our son. I went on to successfully teach over 1000 parenting classes in two states over the course of several years. I remain pro-choice because I know there is far too much abuse and neglect for unwanted babies.

Then, the unthinkable happened. I will skip the bad parts and just say that I was diagnosed pregnant (from rape, which is why this is anonymous) and mentally ill (depression and severe PTSD) from a homeless clinic. My ex-husband took custody of our son, and with his wife, he remains a fantastic dad to our now 16 year old.  

I was urged by everybody around me to abort the pregnancy, as I had no support, no job, no home, nothing at all. Because I have always believed it is a CHOICE, I made the choice that I found to be best. I knew how strong I was. I was well educated and resourceful and fiercely motivated to provide the safest and best environment for my child. I also knew that if I terminated, I would fall even deeper into depression and horrible choices.  

I kept the pregnancy and gave birth while living in a domestic violence shelter after finally escaping some more horror. It truly was the best choice—for me.  

I finally got the help I needed for so many years. I tell my daughter that she saved my life.  And it truly did work out; I wound up with a wonderful man who has provided an environment where I can heal.  Best of all, all that my daughter has known for her short 11 years is peace, love, and security. Nobody even yells in our home; there’s no need. I also remain acutely aware and active about not only my own mental health, but hers as she grows as well, with honest discussions about feelings and how to get help IF, at any point, she feels overwhelmed, depressed, etc. Because I do understand the genetic component I might have passed on.

I still remain firmly pro-choice. I cannot fathom telling another human being what their “morality” should be, or forcing another human to carry a pregnancy they do not want. If you don’t believe in abortion, then simply don’t have one!  But shaming people who do has GOT to stop!