by Olivia Rohling
According to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, close to 1 in 4 women in the U.S. (23.7%) will have an abortion by age 45. Chances are you know and love someone who has had an abortion — you just don’t know it.
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a 7-2 decision known as Roe vs. Wade stating that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution allows for a “right to privacy,” which in turn protects a woman’s right to have an abortion if she so chooses. However on June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has now allowed the states to restrict and ban abortion access.
A woman who wishes to go by her first initial “C” was in her late teens prior to the 1973 Roe decision. She recalled hearing rumors of pregnancy in high school when girls would vanish for a semester or two. “We just assumed that if they were pregnant, they had the baby and put it up for adoption. Abortion was illegal, you didn’t talk about it,” C said. In reaction to the recent overturn of Roe, C said, “I don’t want anyone to tell me what books to read let alone what I do with my body, especially a man. Who are these people to tell me what to do with my body? After these babies are born, who is going to care for them, feed them, house them, and educate them? Will the Republican party who are known for cutting social welfare programs? I highly doubt that.” With Roe being overturned, C shared other concerns. “Now that the door is open what’s going to happen to birth control, IUDs, contraception, same-sex marriage, so much that everyone fought for?”
A woman who wishes to go by the name “Jane Doe” had an abortion in 2007 when she was in her twenties. At the time, she had been with her partner for about seven or eight months. “It wasn’t the most healthy relationship unfortunately. He was very controlling; he was a sex-addict,” Doe said. In early February 2007 Doe was in a car accident. “At the time I didn’t realize that the antibiotics, the muscle relaxers, and the pain killers [I was given] also affected the potency of [my] birth control,” Doe said. Soon after, Doe was pressured by her partner to have sex. “I said ‘no’ multiple times. I’m pretty sure that’s when I conceived,” Doe added.
In the aftermath, Doe didn’t know she was pregnant and thought the pain and cramping she was experiencing was due to appendicitis. Instead, Doe found out she was 4 weeks pregnant. “I was a young 22-year-old, my life was going in the right direction, and I did not see this man in my life being a part of this—I didn’t want to be tied down to him. I knew if this child was brought into the world, he would eventually have some say in it,” Doe said.
When Doe was 5 weeks along, she went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. The current Ohio Heartbeat Bill bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which is at approximately 6 weeks.
“It’s frustrating,” Doe said. “There are women in my position who will never know that they’re pregnant only at 4 weeks. If it wasn’t for the fact that I literally thought I was having appendicitis, I would never have known I was pregnant,” Doe added.
Doe was devastated after seeing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. She has a daughter now and is worried for her future. “It’s a human right. This is a very private thing that has happened in my life, nobody else needs to know. It was a decision that was made at that time that I do not regret—I do not feel bad. I know that I did the right thing,” Doe said. “I’m terrified of how many mothers are going to die,” Doe added.
Another woman who wishes to go by the name, “Emily Doe” had an abortion when she was a freshman in college over twenty years ago. As a freshman, she and her roommates took a road trip to a neighboring college where she met up with her previous boyfriend. At the time she was taking birth control but thinks she may have missed a dose or two—though she’s not certain. A few weeks later, Doe didn’t feel well and made an appointment with her hometown doctor thinking she had a really bad sinus infection and just needed some antibiotics. At the doctor’s appointment Doe learned she not only had a sinus infection but was also pregnant. “I was a freshman… I couldn’t take care of myself let alone take care of a baby or get married,” Doe said. “I just remember praying, ‘God please forgive me. I hope you understand why I’m doing this,” Doe added. “It was a terrible decision [to make,] but I knew there was no other decision for me and what I wanted for my life and what I wanted to become,” Doe said when talking about her decision to terminate her pregnancy.
Emily Doe says she is disgusted by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe . “Especially because I have daughters of my own. It just made me want to do something. It made me want to donate money. It made me want to become active in helping and doing something to further the cause… It’s not about babies, it’s about women’s rights and about women being unequal to men. If it was about babies—when the issue about baby formula [shortages] came up, they would have provided baby formula for those infants [who] needed that,” she said.
Another woman, by the name of Sarah Doe had an abortion when she was in high school in 1990. She recalls being about 9 or 11 weeks along. “There was no pressure from [my boyfriend,] there was no pressure from any outside sources. I just felt like [abortion] was my only option. I didn’t want to have a baby; I’m 18, I’m in high school, I can’t do this,” Doe said. Doe opted for an abortion rather than adoption. “At barely 18 [years old] I was scared. I think when you’re 18 you think you’re grown up but looking back I realize how grown up I really wasn’t yet. I was just an 18-year-old scared girl who didn’t want a baby,” Doe said. At the time, Doe said she didn’t feel guilty about her decision, but thinks it hit her later in life. “I don’t know if this is connected or not, but I have a lot of anxiety about my son, and I always have this fear that he was going to die [or] something bad was going to happen to him. I have- to this day- horrible nightmares of him dying and a lot of anxiety,”
“I feel like people are going to [have abortions] regardless, I’d rather keep [them] safe,” Doe said about the overturn of Roe vs. Wade
In each of these three stories, each woman had a choice to carry out the pregnancy or terminate it. They just so happened to choose the latter. The good news is you can be pro-choice, and your choice can be to continue the pregnancy. The key word is choice; an opportunity to choose. They had options. They weren’t forced one way or another. Each woman made the decision that was best for them. These women are real. They may be “Jane Doe,” “Emily Doe,” or “Sarah Doe,” but these are real stories. These women are mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. These women are just like every other child-bearing person in the world who just lost the right to make choices about their own body. Being “pro-life” should not mean you are against abortion, it should mean that you love and support life so much, that you choose not to tell someone else how to live their life. If it was really about saving human lives, gun violence wouldn’t be an issue in this country- it wouldn’t even be a polarizing debate. Poverty and unemployment and everything in between wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s not about the sacredness of life, it’s about the incessant need for control.
Olivia Rohling – Writer, student, introvert, Wordle player, and avid email checker.
Olivia is not a stranger to the world of journalism as she was Editor-in-Chief for The Milestone, McNicholas High School’s newspaper, and currently writes for Ohio University’s The Post & The Odyssey Online.
Olivia loves keeping busy, but when she does get free time she enjoys reading, running, baking and jamming out to Arcade Fire.
Olivia will be a second-year student in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.