Having an Abortion on Her Own, But Not Alone

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

This reader happens to have the same uncommon name as my grandmother’s:

Please keep my name private. I haven’t seen a grandmother story in your abortion series yet, so here’s mine.

My own devout Christian grandmother warned me if law can force a woman to carry an unwanted baby, law can force the abortion of a wanted baby. She said everyone else should butt out.

My daughter and her fiancé were just out of high school, working for minimum wage, and each living at home with parents. They got pregnant by accident.

My daughter was terrified. Her fiancé made all kinds of promises to help her, but in the end she said she didn’t want to raise kids in poverty. She decided to abort.

She was an adult, but she was also my child. I went to the clinic with her. I went because I was afraid she would die. I went secretly hoping she would change her mind and I would take her home rejoicing.

The ladies inside the clinic were gentle and kind. I was grateful for that. They took her back alone. They had her swallow a pill and we left.

She collapsed crying before we got to the car. She kept wailing, “What have I done?” I was frantic. I wanted to go back in the clinic for an antidote, but my daughter said they told her it was done the moment she took the pill. It was horrible to watch her and not be able to help.

I babied her for a few days. She said she didn’t deserve it. She was my baby, I told her. She reminded me that “it” had been my grandchild. I know. I know.

This is never just the woman’s problem. I would never take this decision away from a woman, and I think only she can make it. But she shouldn’t have to go alone.