A 2013 story published on CNN’s iReport is a raw look at the pain of a woman, known only as Jojo 106, from Virginia, who had an abortion — not a recent one, but one she had seven years prior to the recounting of her story. In her testimony, Jojo says she is “still heartbroken” over her abortion decision at age 19, adding that abortion has “major consequences that are not discussed and are unknown to the general public.”
Jojo is correct. Abortion has a number of physical risks. A woman obtaining a first-trimester suction aspiration abortion could experience uterine perforation, infection, hemorrhage, future infertility, incomplete abortion, cervical incompetence in future pregnancies, or even death. But along with this, for many women like Jojo, the long-term emotional and mental consequences of an abortion — such as drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety — can be devastating.
Jojo describes how her boyfriend was abusive to her, as he was “desperate to cause a miscarriage,” and even “threatened to perform an abortion on me himself or… kill me.” He took her to get an abortion, but she missed the appointment because she was begging him to let her keep their baby. She writes:
Because we missed the appointment, I received a terrible beating. He forced me to take blue and black cohosh pills 3 each, 3 times a day after that. We went on winter break for school shortly after that and went back to our homes in different states. With him not being there to breathe down my neck, I stopped taking the pills. I was afraid to tell my parents about my pregnancy and about my abuse, and most abused women are the same way….
It was a nightmare and I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I loved my child, and even named him/her, but I felt like I had no other choice. I tried to put it off until the last possible day, which was the day before I went back to college.
Jojo made another appointment for an abortion, and says that the counseling she received at the facility consisted of “me signing forms and getting birth control, and being told that I was brave.” Many women speak of a lack of options counseling at abortion facilities. In fact, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is required (as a Title X recipient of federal family planning funds) to give women counseling on all their pregnancy options. However, this is clearly not happening — and if the nation’s largest abortion conglomerate isn’t properly counseling women, then expecting that smaller conglomerates are doing so seems unrealistic, at best:
As for informed consent, Jojo writes:
I asked for a copy of my sonogram and the counselor told me that alot of women do, which made me wonder how many other were like me. I waited in that cold room undressed from the waist down for what seemed like forever, which only allowed that room to be further ingrained into my memory. I apologized to my baby before the doctor and nurse came in. They did the sonogram but did not allow me to see my baby, but they did print out a picture for me which I did not receive until I was pulling my pants back up.
Abortion providers know that if women see real-time sonograms, they are more likely to choose life for their babies — which may be why organizations like Planned Parenthood fight informed consent laws.
Jojo describes in detail the excruciating pain of her abortion, which flies in the face of those who call abortion an act of women’s empowerment. “I have been raped before,” she writes, “but this was so much more invasive it sickens me to the core. I am appalled and disgusted that abortion is flaunted as a liberating and empowering thing because I felt the most vulnerable and weak that I have ever felt on that table. A part of me died with my baby.”
Jojo says her parents took her back to college with no knowledge of her abortion. Her boyfriend then ended their relationship. “He dumped me and called our baby and piece of sh** when I showed him my precious sonogram picture. I felt like my life was out of control, I regretted what happened, I felt betrayed, I felt stupid for trusting him and believing him….”
Jojo goes on to describe her own destructive behavior following her abortion, including continuing to have “unprotected risky sex” with her abuser even though they were no longer in a relationship. “I was hoping to get pregnant again,” she said. She eventually rid herself of her abuser, but she describes spiraling downward after the abortion. She became involved in other relationships because “I was obsessed with getting pregnant.” This desire for a “replacement child” or “atonement child” is not uncommon among post-abortive women.
Eventually, Jojo was able to have other children, but she describes having panic attacks and “triggers” — reminders of her abortion — during her pregnancies. This is also not uncommon among women who have experienced abortion.
At the time Jojo recounted her story, she said that the real empowerment, for her, was not abortion, but her children. “I love my children more than anything, and include my aborted child in that too,” she writes. “Having 3 of my babies here with me and giving me the greatest joy I have ever felt is what is empowering, not the life I was living in self destruction.”
As for women like her who have chosen abortion, Jojo says, “I don’t know a single post abortive woman that isn’t self destructive. Our choices have consequences whether we see it right away or not.”
Read Jojo’s story in full here.
Editor’s Note: If you are being pressured into an abortion, see What to Do if Your Boyfriend (or Anyone) is Pressuring You to Have an Abortion. If you are making a decision about abortion, see Clinic Quotes, 10 Reasons Not to Have an Abortion, and Abortion Procedures. Stand Up Girl and Option Line or Pregnancy Line will help you find local resources, help, and trained people to talk to in your area. If you’ve begun an abortion and are regretting your decision, the 24-hour, nurse-staffed hotline at Abortion Pill Reversal may be able to give you information on reversing your abortion. Men involved in a pregnancy situation can check out Abortion and Men and Abortion Exploits Women.