In most workplaces, you wouldn’t think twice about telling your colleagues you were getting a cavity filled or your appendix removed. Abortion care is just as vital as these services–and less dangerous. Yet a dysfunctional political climate, hatred for women, and confusion about what abortion actually is have all conspired to push abortion underground. Though a quarter of women have at leas tone abortion during their lives, many never tell a soul.
You might be wondering if you should tell anyone you’ve had an abortion–and if so, whom to tell. Here are some things to consider as you weigh whether and when to tell people you’re having an abortion.
The Value of Sharing Your Story
One thing to consider when sharing your abortion story is that every story reduces abortion stigma. Telling your story may help others feel less alone. It can also put a human face to the story of abortion.
If your abortion was medically necessary or following a rape or sexual assault, your abortion may be particularly compelling.
The flip side, of course, is that by telling your story, you politicize your own life and invite people who have not walked in your shoes to weigh in on the decisions you’ve made. How you feel about the costs and benefits of sharing may shift with time. You don’t have to make a decision and stick to it forever; you can also decide to tell some people and not others.
How You Feel About Your Abortion
While it’s a myth that abortion affects mental health, people have a wide variety of reactions to abortion. For some, the decision is hard, even tragic. For others, it’s an easy and empowering choice. Consider how you feel about your abortion–and how it might make you feel to have others judge your decision. If you’re in an emotionally vulnerable place, it might be best only to share your decision with people who are likely to be supportive.
Safety and Support
It’s a wise idea to tell at least one trusted person about your abortion so you can have support immediately after the procedure, as well as a ride home from the clinic. Think carefully about who this person should be. In many cases, the person you’re closest to–a parent or partner–is a good bet. But if that person is not pro-choice, you may be better off choosing someone more distant who is willing to support your decision.
You deserve to feel fully supported and safe. If you have any hesitation about telling someone, trust your gut. You do not owe anyone honesty about your most intimate medical details. You don’t owe anyone the opportunity to judge you. You can tell or not tell on your own terms, when you’re ready–or never at all.