A mother shares why she chose to have an abortion at 21 weeks: 'I can’t give birth to a baby just to watch him die'

Last month, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicated that judges were preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade.

One woman watching the news closely is April Salazar. Back in 2013, Salazar and her husband made the decision to have an abortion at 21 weeks gestation after doctors discovered a lethal birth defect with their son.

“It was very surprising to find myself in my mid-30s and happily married and wanting so badly to be a mom and to find myself needing an abortion,” Salazar tells Yahoo Life. “No one can ever imagine until they live through it, and unfortunately the people making choices for us are the people who will never live through it.”

Salazar shares her emotional journey with reporter Brittany Jones-Cooper in Yahoo Life's latest episode of Unmuted.

Video Transcript

APRIL SALAZAR: It was very surprising to find myself in my mid-thirties and happily married and wanting so badly to be a mom and to find myself needing an abortion. No one can ever imagine until they lived through it. And unfortunately, the people who are making choices for us are the people who never will live through it.


BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Hey, everyone. I'm Brittany Jones-Cooper and welcome to "Unmuted." As we wait for the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade, today I'm talking with April Salazar, a woman who chose to have an abortion at 21 weeks after doctors discovered a serious birth defect. April, I really appreciate you joining us today to share your story.

APRIL SALAZAR: Thank you. I know that there are a lot of other people with stories like mine.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: When did you and your husband decide to start a family?

APRIL SALAZAR: Boy, more than 10 years ago. To my surprise, it was actually really difficult to conceive. And so after eight rounds of IUIs, I finally became pregnant for the first time.

I got through the first trimester. And I actually remember having a moment where I just thought, like, I can relax now. I can stop worrying about what's going to happen. And I had no idea that there was still a lot of stuff that could happen, even later in the pregnancy.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: So when did doctors reveal that your pregnancy wouldn't be routine?

APRIL SALAZAR: When I was 18 weeks along, I went for an anatomy scan. I knew that we were going to see a lot of images of our baby. I was actually squeezing my husband's arm with excitement. And then everyone started to spend a lot of time looking at things, and things got a little quiet. And I didn't understand what was happening.

During that appointment, we got the initial diagnosis that our baby had a lethal skeletal dysplasia. They saw that our baby's limbs were unusually short. And they saw that his chest was unusually small. His lungs would never develop properly. And so we were told that our child would never be able to breathe on his own.

I was told very clearly what would happen when my baby was born. In a very short time period, like, minutes, he would die of suffocation. They also said that some people choose to end their pregnancy rather than carry to term. So my husband and I were presented with those options immediately.

I was still really just shocked. And I just said, I can't give birth to a baby just to watch him die. And my husband, without hesitation, said, of course you can't. That would be cruel. And that erased any doubts that I might have had about that. It would have been cruel to him, and it would have been excruciating for us.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: You know, the vast majority of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks. You were 21 weeks along. So what was your experience finding abortion care in your state?

APRIL SALAZAR: When you search for abortion services or second-trimester abortion services, a lot of the results are places that offer basically misleading information that's meant to dissuade people from having an abortion. I had no idea what the procedure was going into it.

One thing that I learned initially is that, if you're ending a pregnancy and you're later term, you actually have a couple of options. You can have a surgical procedure, a D&E, or you can actually induce labor, and you can have a vaginal birth. I ended up choosing the D&E because that was actually the safer procedure than going through childbirth.

I think if I hadn't known, not only would I have not had information, I probably would have had incorrect information because there are a lot of people who are very politically motivated to share misinformation around every single aspect of this.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: We have this news now that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade. When you heard that news, how did it make you feel?

APRIL SALAZAR: It's devastating, to be honest. I have my own daughter. And it's horrifying to think that she's going to grow up in a world in which she can't make choices for herself that keep her safe and healthy.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: What message do you want to send to women who may find themselves in a similar situation that you were in, who may be in a state where abortion isn't accessible or illegal?

APRIL SALAZAR: There are a lot of support groups out there for navigating the emotional side of things, navigating the practical side of things, including finding care. I think that we have a very long road ahead of us now. But I think by sharing our stories, by supporting each other, by donating to abortion funds, and supporting that kind of care, I do think that we can eventually reverse this and get back to where we were.