Readers React: My abortion 18 years ago still saddens me — but I know I made the right decision

Activsts protest at the US Supreme Court in response to Alabama, Georgia and Missouri passing extreme anti abortion laws, Washington, USA - 21 May 2019
Abortion rights activists protest at the Supreme Court in Washington this month.
(Shawn Thew / EPA-Shutterstock)

To the editor: Abortion is not something women happily discuss over glasses of wine. They are times in a woman’s life that are painful, sad, tragic and usually kept private. My story is all of those. (“The best way to keep abortion legal: Women like me should talk openly about having them,” Opinion, May 23)

My husband and I very much wanted children. Over the first 10 years of our marriage we underwent a half-dozen rounds of invasive, painful, costly and emotionally draining infertility treatments. On our very last treatment, at the age of 42, I got pregnant for the very first time and was thrilled beyond belief. We didn’t anticipate problems, as we were using eggs from a twentysomething donor.

Sadly, in my 23rd week of pregnancy, we discovered there were severe problems. After multiple tests, all five specialists who had seen us agreed that the organs of the fetus had not developed, and they recommended we terminate the pregnancy. We were bereft but fast approaching the 24-week cutoff for late-term abortions. After weighing our depressing options, our doctor helped us find a clinic that would do the procedure.

The next year I barely left the house. When I was asked how our baby was, I couldn’t say I miscarried, and it didn’t sound right to say I lost the baby; it wasn’t a set of keys I misplaced. No one wants to hear that you had an abortion. My world was dark.


Eighteen years later, do I regret having an abortion? No. Am I still saddened by it? Yes. And yet, it was a decision made between my doctors and me. This is how it should be for all women — and no president, lawmaker or Supreme Court justice should interfere with what we do with our bodies.

Susan Levinson, Fullerton


To the editor: My heart broke when I read novelist Alena Graedon’s piece on her abortion at age 36. Try as she might to rationalize, this is a scar on her soul.


Graedon was not a minor or a victim of rape or incest when she became pregnant. Certainly, she was not poor and uneducated.

Rather, she decided to abort because her boyfriend cried and says a baby would ruin his life. Really? Whatever happened to being a strong woman?

No one can normalize this procedure.

Mary Curtius, Reno


To the editor: I applaud Graedon’s willingness to write about her abortion. Hers is the kind of unapologetic, personal testimony that will help erase the stigma of having an abortion.

I believe men have a role to play too. They should take an active part in birth control and support the ability of all women to decide if and when to have a child.

This fundamental right is under attack in many parts of the country. Men and women need to stand together to make sure that this right is protected, regardless of where someone lives or how much money they make.


Kenny Goldberg, Valley Center, Calif.


To the editor: Graedon is wrong to believe that life does not start at conception.

Does she think that those cells aren’t alive? Given a chance, that little lump of cells can become only one thing: a human being — not a dog, not an elephant, not an ant, not a rutabaga.

Argue all you want about the myriad considerations surrounding abortion, but you cannot argue that the “thing” that is aborted is anything other than alive and irrevocably human.

Gerald Swanson, Long Beach

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