A Texas law banning abortion at just 6 weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Sept. 1 after the US Supreme Court declined to block it.
There are still a lot of misconceptions and stigmas surrounding abortion, so we asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their own experiences and tell us what they wish people understood about it. Here are some of their responses:
Note: Some of the following include mentions of sexual assault and suicidal thoughts.
"Many people who seek an abortion were using some form of contraceptive. The idea that people 'use abortion as birth control' is so untrue."
"It can mean life or death for some people. I chose to have an abortion when my birth control failed because I had a 6-month-old baby, had just lost my job, was suffering from postpartum depression, and was suicidal. When I went to my doctor's first appointment at 6 weeks, I found out the pregnancy was ectopic — it was close to rupturing and I could have died. Having an abortion saved my life."
"A lot of people have irregular periods, meaning it sometimes does come late. If you have a condition such as PCOS (like me), you can have such irregular periods that you don't realize you're pregnant until later, when symptoms start to occur."
"It was the hardest thing I have ever done but also the best thing I ever did for myself, my mental health, and my family. Not everyone will agree with your decision but do what’s best for you."
"It's not always a gut-wrenching decision and it shouldn’t have to be. I have no regrets. I don’t see babies and think of what could have been, because I know it was the right choice. I’m confident in my choice and every person dealing with an unwanted pregnancy deserves that right. There isn’t always grief and guilt."
"The abortion 'pill' is a bit of a misnomer — it's actually several pills taken over two days. The passing of the pregnancy tissue part only takes [a few] hours and you're well prepared for when that will happen. For me, it was about four hours of period-like cramping and bleeding, followed by one hour of more intense cramps, which were easily subdued with ibuprofen and a long, hot shower. The tissue that was passed was less volume than I assumed it would be and the passing was not at all painful. I didn't find my experience to be disturbing or upsetting whatsoever."
"We hear examples all the time of instances of rape, incest, birth control failing, or medical issues as reasons for getting an abortion. These are all good reasons but the only reason you should need is that you don’t want to be pregnant and you aren’t ready to have a baby. I got pregnant and simply wasn’t in a point in my life to be a mom. After my abortion, I was able to go to medical school, become a doctor, and get married. Now I have a wonderful career, husband, and two beautiful children whom I love dearly."
"I was careful, used protection, and still got pregnant. I stand by my choice because it gave me the opportunity to finish my education, settle down, and have kids when I was prepared."
"Late-term abortions are rare and the vast majority are to terminate a pregnancy wherein the mother may die or the fetus won’t survive."
"I terminated a pregnancy at 27. I was on birth control but missed doses. It wasn't a hard decision and I wasn't afraid. The most dangerous part isn't the procedure itself, but rather the people who don't want you to have an abortion and will sometimes do anything to keep you from doing it, prompting clinics to have to go to extreme measures to keep their staff and patients safe."
"Planned Parenthood doesn't just hand out free abortions like Halloween candy to anyone who walks in the door. Before I was even allowed to schedule my procedure, I had to sit down with a counselor who walked me through all of my options. She explained the resources available to me if I continued my pregnancy, the processes of both open and closed adoptions, and, finally, what I could expect from the abortion procedure. She did not guide me toward one option or another, but listened respectfully as I made the decision for myself. Thanks to the guidance I received, I went into my abortion knowing I made the best informed decision for me. The staff at Planned Parenthood supported me through the whole process and I have no doubt they would have supported me the same way if I had chosen a different option."
"I wish people understood that the choice I made was mine and mine alone. I don't owe a justification to anyone for what I do with my body. There is no shame in terminating a pregnancy you aren't prepared for — be it medically, mentally, financially, or otherwise — but there's a lot to be said about [forcing people to] bring a life into this world because 'consequences.'"
"You can have an abortion and still feel sad about it. I still sometimes think, What if? But I know I made the right choice for me no matter how hard it was."
"It's okay to feel relieved. [Afterward], I felt a million times better and was back to my normal self. Then, I started to feel guilty because I wasn't sad. It took me a little while, but I came to realize that it's okay to be okay and that I shouldn't have to feel bad about it."
"Even if I wanted to carry [my pregnancy] to term, I likely wouldn’t have been able to due to health concerns. Furthermore, my entire life would have been uprooted at 19. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I didn’t finish college and go on to earn an advanced degree and work in social services. Because I was not forced to have a baby, I am able to help other babies. Abortions save lives. Abortion is healthcare."
"I wish people understood that some women just don’t want to be mothers. I became pregnant while on birth control and when I found out, I immediately set up an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. I love children but I’ve never wanted children. Ever. Forcing me to give birth wouldn’t change my mind. People can say what the fuck they want about your decision but they don’t have to live with it; you do. If you’re reading this, know that I support your right to choose. It’s okay to choose you. I wish my parents would’ve chosen themselves before they had me."
"Always remember that you are surrounded by people all over the country who have decided to end a pregnancy for any number of reasons and that all of those reasons are perfectly fine. We may not talk about it but we know what you're experiencing just the same. You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of. It's been 25 years since mine and I'm only just now starting to open up about it because others are, too."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.