Human Interest

Abortions and addiction compounded, leaving one woman in a years-long downward spiral

birth control, abortion, abortionists, rape, contraception, abortion

In her 2016 book, author Dana M. Brown wrote about her abortions and her battle with drug addiction. 

Coerced Into an Unwanted Abortion

Raped at 14 and teased during her childhood, Brown was already experimenting with drugs when she became pregnant at 18. She wanted to have her baby, but her boyfriend, James, wanted her to abort her child. She says:

Deep down, I wanted him to be excited about the chance of being a father, that our love for each other may have created another life. Maybe he would feel the same way as I did about it, that it would be me, him, and our baby against the world.1

Instead, he insisted on abortion. She knew from his reaction that he would leave her if she didn’t abort. She says:

I loved the baby inside me, but it was not tangible. It couldn’t fill the void that I would have without James… It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a good relationship. It was still a relationship. Something was better than nothing.3

She tried to rationalize:

I recalled all of the news and scientific reports on fetuses. This thing inside of me isn’t even a real baby yet. I rationalized it away and with tears in my eyes, I made the appointment.4

No Help at the Abortion Facility

Brown describes the five-minute “counseling” session at the abortion facility:

She asked me a few questions. “How old are you? Is anyone forcing you to do this? Are you sure this is what you wish to do?” That seemed to be the extent of her concern. Of course, all of my answers were lies with the exception of my age.5

Brown went through with the abortion. 

A Second Coerced Abortion

A year later, she was pregnant again. Again, James insisted on an abortion. Brown says that he was “more important to me than life itself… My decision to have another abortion was based on nothing but James’ demand and my lack of self-esteem and neediness.”6

Brown describes how she felt:

I slipped deeper into self-loathing and wasn’t sure exactly why. I knew that I didn’t want to have an abortion, but everyone said it was all right, it wasn’t a baby, it was just a circumstance that could be changed, legally. But inside, I was falling apart. 8

Again, she got no help at the abortion facility. She says, “The clinic just took the money and my babies without ever offering me another option.”9

Falling Deep Into Addiction

After her abortions, Brown fell deeper into addiction. According to Brown: 

I justified the abortions by telling myself that it was legal, so it can’t be a big deal. I just got the abortions and continued to numb my feelings with pot, alcohol, and pills, and went on with my life…

I tried to see it as no big deal and decided I didn’t care anyway. It was so much easier not to care. I may have killed myself had I cared.10

James left her after the second abortion. 

After a while, Brown began using heroin. Her life fell apart, and she lost her job. Soon, she was living on the street. To support her drug habit, she became a prostitute. She went through a cycle of jail, arrest, and rehab, only to continue using drugs. 

An Attempt at Sobriety – Ended By Another Abortion

Eventually, though, she became determined to stay sober. After one more stint in rehab, she moved in with Rafael, another former drug addict. 

She became pregnant again, and both she and Rafael were excited. They were both sober, and she was hoping to raise her child with him. However, when she was well into her pregnancy, she found out he was cheating on her.

Overcome with despair and convinced she couldn’t cope with being a single mother, she had a late-term abortion.

She says that “When the procedure was complete, I woke up and began to scream and cry. I screamed, ‘You killed my baby!! You killed my baby!!'”10

Brown was consumed with guilt that she still struggles with today, many years later:

I was way to [sic] sober to deal with this reality. They moved me into a room by myself to recuperate and got me out of the clinic as quickly as they could. I could barely breathe I was so upset. The guilt has stayed with me, and I do not see it getting better anytime soon.11

Even though she’d been sober for eight months, the guilt and grief drove her back into her addiction:

The thought of what I had done was too much for me to handle sober…. The cycle was back in full swing and I had fallen off the wagon. A couple of weeks later, cocaine was back, then heroin.12

Rafael also fell back into drug abuse.

Soon Brown was living on the street again, once more a prostitute. She stole money to support her drug habit and ended up in prison.


Brown’s story ends happily. She went back to rehab, moved in with her sister, began attending church, became a devout Christian, and stopped using drugs. She later married and is now a foster parent.

Abortion alone didn’t cause Brown’s addiction, but it was a major factor. Her post-abortive trauma worsened her addiction and led directly to her relapse. 

Abortion Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Brown isn’t alone. One study found that women who aborted their first pregnancy had 4.5 times higher risk of subsequent substance abuse compared to women who carried their first pregnancy to term.

Even some abortion providers have admitted there is a link between abortion and subsequent drug abuse. The abortion textbook A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion states that “Research has consistently shown that abortion is not an event that causes severe emotional repercussions for most women.”14

But then it goes on to say:

Negative postabortion reactions that have been researched include depression, guilt, shame, regret, and grief…

Symptoms of severe guilt include … engaging in self-punishing behavior such as substance abuse….15

Post-abortion grief and trauma can lead to unhealthy coping techniques, including drug use. 

  1. Dana M Brown Desperate for A Fix (2016) 31
  2. Ibid., 32
  3. Ibid., 32-33
  4. Ibid., 34
  5. Ibid., 35
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., 133
  10. Ibid., 133-134
  11. Ibid.
  12. Maureen Paul, E Steve Lichtenberg, Lynn Borgatta, David Grimes, Philip G Stubblefield A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion (New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1999) 28
  13. Ibid., 28-29

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