When she heard the news of the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, one woman thought of her own challenges obtaining an abortion in Texas earlier this year. Another celebrated the decision after having two abortions she regrets. Another felt torn — she is the child of an unwanted pregnancy, but she knows and loves many people who have had abortions.
Across the country, women have reacted to the release of the draft decision with elation, terror and confusion. Some worry about their — and their children’s — future in a world without abortion access. Others are celebrating the possible milestone for the rights of the unborn.
The Washington Post reached out to readers across America to share their stories and interviewed several women in California, Mississippi and Michigan. We have also included written submissions from readers. Some of the women quoted have asked to use only their first names to discuss personal details.
We will continue to update this story with more voices from around the country. Submit your story here.
“I think [the draft decision] is wonderful,” said Norman, of Oakland, Calif. “For people, they’ll just learn how to rely on the Lord.”
Norman has had two abortions but said she regrets them. “I’m a believer in God, so I know that God won’t put nothing on you you can’t handle,” she said. “It might feel like it at the time, but people are stronger than they think, and babies are blessings.”
“I do not have children, but I have always wanted them,” wrote Keara, of Oklahoma City. Overturning Roe “may prevent me from having children at all. If I am faced with the prospect of being compelled to give birth with no regard to the health or circumstances of a fetus or my own condition … then my husband and I may give up on trying to have children.”
“I’m both from Japan and America, and I’m disappointed in the American side of me,” said Kishida, a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. “America is known for being quite progressive in a lot of ways, especially from more conservative countries like Japan. America is seen as more progressive in terms of societal issues like LGBTQ rights. So for them to head in that direction in terms of abortion is a little bit disappointing and shocking.”
“I’ve been involved in Right to Life since I was 17,” said Streett, of Oakland, who protests outside of clinics.
Her focus has always been, she said, protecting “the sanctity of life and the safety of women and honoring women and babies.”
“I already had my abortion and I’m thankful I was able to before this ruling happened,” wrote Jessica, of Milwaukee. “I was 24, living at home and making $27,000 a year when I found out I was pregnant in the early 2010s. My boyfriend lived 90 minutes away in another state. I went there to have an abortion. He supported me because we both knew we didn’t have the income to support a baby. We’re now married with a new home and steady careers. That wouldn’t have happened with a kid.”
“Having my baby, it’s just been such a joyful experience. But it’s also really hard,” said Blomseth, pictured with her 9-month-old daughter, Lily, at Lake Merritt, Calif. “All of a sudden your whole life changes. … To make somebody have a baby, even if it’s a healthy baby, it’s still hard to go through all of that.”
“If you force someone to have a baby that they don’t want, that’s going to affect the child,” she added. “The bond between the parent and a baby, especially in the beginning, it’s so important.”
“I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t think abortion is wrong and that people who are standing up for it are wrong,” said Crouson, a student at Michigan State University who attended a rally in front of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Tuesday. “But to be honest, I don’t think that the [pro-abortion-rights protesters are] out here for the wrong reasons. I think that we’re both passionate about a thing.”
Delia Wilder, 26, and Jasmine Payton, 24
“How soon before they come for my birth control?” asked Wilder, who lives in Jackson, Miss. “They want the opinions of everybody who it doesn’t involve, not the opinion of a woman,” added Payton, a traveling nurse who said she understands what happens when people are desperate and don’t have safe options. “We’re the key factor but we don’t matter.”
“I was an unwanted pregnancy,” wrote Jones, of Dallas. “I’m glad to be here and I know that there were many more of us who would’ve been here if not for Roe vs. Wade. I think it’s important to remember the child’s rights as well as the woman’s. There’s more than one person involved in that decision. It’s good to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.”
“I’m glad that I’m not of childbearing age,” said Risper, who was demonstrating outside of the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. “Individuals should make that choice with their doctor and their spouses. You should be able to make the decision regarding your body, not courts.”
“As a young adult, I made the decision to have a child during an unplanned pregnancy,” wrote Joanne, 48, of Colorado. “I am grateful daily for my child and for the learning that made this path clear for me. … I support the overturning of this law, and believe that our Country will be able to move forward on a better moral footing.”
“I have two daughters and a son and I have two granddaughters and a grandson,” said Hurwitz-Hoene in Lansing. “And when I think about a world in which women’s reproductive rights are not protected, it just horrifies me. And I don’t even know how to explain this to my grandchildren.”
“I think that abortion should be completely illegal,” said Gusa, pictured at the Michigan Capitol. “Ideally, it will always be wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being in Michigan.”
“Last year, I found out at the age of 41-years-old that I was pregnant. This was unexpected, as my husband and I already have four children between us,” wrote Cancino, of Euless, Tex. “I was considered a high-risk pregnancy due to age, and so there were additional screenings that were done during my first five months in the pregnancy. I found out at six months pregnant that my baby was going to be born with severe medical issues. I had to soon make a choice to either continue with the pregnancy with the possibility of me leaving my job to raise her full-time, as she will need round-the-clock care, or go across state lines to New Mexico to terminate my pregnancy for medical reasons since the one in Dallas that is 10 minutes from my home no longer provides abortions.
“It was one of the most painful decision[s] I ever had to make in my life. I felt my baby move inside me, I dreamed of her future and wished so much for her. After receiving the news I was beyond devastated and knew that I had to choose what was best for me and for my family and I decided to terminate the pregnancy. The emotional and physical anguish a woman goes through experiencing this is just impossible to describe. …
“The termination happen[ed] on January 17th of this year. I’m still emotionally healing from what happen[ed], as I feel like my soul has been forever shaken. I don’t regret the decision I made, I just wish the process was easier and that women who have to make this choice are treated with respect, compassion and some dignity.”
Marlena Sloss in Oakland, Calif., Brittany Greeson in Lansing, Mich., and Sarah Fowler in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.