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We Are Later Abortion Patients

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is never a political one, it is a personal one... We need to start listening to people with first-hand experience instead of talking heads, priests and politicians.

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Recent legislation regulating abortion in New York and the fervor around a similar proposed bill in Virginia have ignited a national conversation around later abortion. The president included the issue in his State of the Union remarks and the debate is raging on cable news shows, in opinion pieces and social media posts. But this proxy war is not about the later abortions actually happening in the country.

We know because we are the families who have gotten them.

We are later abortion patients and their partners who are concerned with the politicization of this issue at the expense of both truth and compassion. While we do not speak for every later abortion patient and do not pretend to represent everyone who seeks this care, we can speak for ourselves and our families.

The stories we hear being told about later abortion in this national discussion are not our stories. They do not reflect our choices or experiences. These hypothetical patients don’t sound like us or the other patients we know. The barbarous, unethical doctors in these scenarios don’t sound like the people who gave us compassionate care.

Our cases, the ones that would be affected by the legislation in question, constitute a relatively small number of abortions. So while these cases are incredibly rare and specific to each patient’s unique circumstances, they are being broadly misrepresented and are playing an outsized role on the national stage.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is never a political one, it is a personal one. Later abortions stories are often ones of tragedy and loss. For others they are stories of relief. They feature struggles with hope, women betrayed by their bodies and the incredible complexity of pregnancy. Many stories are ones of overcoming the many obstacles and restrictions our states have placed on these procedures.

We are not monsters. We are your family, your neighbors, someone you love. We are you, just in different circumstances. Due to ignorance, many of us may not have supported later abortion access before facing a crisis ourselves, accepting restrictions on healthcare we never imagined needing. Now we recognize that our laws may not be able to draw neat lines around each of our stories, allowing these procedures in certain, hyper-specific circumstances and not in others, because we know people will be left outside those lines. As people privileged enough to speak up, that is unacceptable to us.

Americans must start having a more nuanced conversation about later abortion that reflects the experiences of patients and the expertise of physicians. We need to start listening to people with first-hand experience instead of talking heads, priests and politicians.

We’ll tell you our stories if you can muster the compassion necessary to hear them. We understand that talking about later abortion can be uncomfortable. It requires us confronting the terrible reality that pregnancy, even a wanted one, is not always a blessing. It means we have to consider decisions being made with imperfect information. When we talk about later abortion, concepts we thought were simple become complicated.

Therefore we are asking Americans to weigh the restrictions on later abortion against our stories, not the hypothetical cases that have been fabricated to win political points.

With the manufactured crisis over later abortion, opportunistic politicians are seeking to exploit an already stigmatized, marginalized group of people. Our hope is that this crusade may yet lead somewhere constructive, that as ideologues turn the country’s attention to abortions that happen later in pregnancy, there may be space for education and empathy.

This is only possible if it includes the stories of real patients. And there is no good faith effort at a conversation on later abortion that does not include us.


Karen Agatone, Pennsylvania

Scott Agatone, Pennsylvania

Jonathan Arzt, New York

Lindsay Arzt, New York

Amy Avery, California

K. Barnidge, Missouri

Darla Barar, Texas

Peter Barar, Texas

Michael Barcone, New York

David Barnes, California

Lori Beiner, New York

Julie Bindeman, PsyD, Maryland

Lee Blecher, Maryland

Mia Blecher, Maryland

Sarah Bogdanski, New York

Christie Brooks, Virginia

Heather Browne, Virginia

Katherine Bryant M.D., Virginia

Kimberly Buller, California

Susan Burgess, South Carolina

Egypt Burton Charles, Georgia

Kate Carson, Massachusetts

E. Chanzes, Georgia

J. Chanzes, Georgia

Erika A. Christensen, New York

N. Clark, California

Katrina Co, DMD, Florida

Katie Coyle, New Jersey

Jeimy Cruz, California

Malika Daniels, Georgia

Kate DeMonte, Illinois

Krista Burnett Drake, Indiana

Cassie Dunbar, Kansas

Karen Engelhart, New Jersey

Holly Fahner, Michigan

Ashley Feco, Missouri

Carla J Finis, Idaho

S. Margot Finn, Ph.D., Michigan

Brittan Foster, Arizona

Rachel Freedman, Ph.D., Maryland

Dessi Freeman-Barnes, California

Val Goehring, Maryland

Jillian Goldman, Pennsylvania

Krista Goodrich, Maine

Kate Grum, Pennsylvania

Laura Guerrero, New York

Robyn Gurin, New York

Nicole Gunderson, Minnesota

Nada Haq-Siddiqi, New York

Aubrey Hernandez, California

Alejandro Hernandez, California

S. Holt, California

Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, DSW, LCSW, MBE, Pennsylvania

Susan Ito, California

Ashley Johnson, Washington

Erika King, Missouri

Colleen Kortendick, New York

Missy Kurzweil, New York

Marissa Lawson, Florida

Debbie Lewis, California

Amy Lynn, Colorado

Katie Lyon, California

Emily Lopez, Illinois

Garin Marschall, New York

John Mayer, Oregon

A. J. Mazur, Michigan

A. G. Mazur, Michigan

Tara Mendola, PhD, Massachusetts

Stephanie Millender-Grubb, California

Sonya Miller, Pennsylvania

Gabriela Morrison, Oklahoma

Laurie Myers, California

Hanna Neuschwander, Oregon

A. Noland, Florida

Miriam A. Nunberg, Esq., New York

Grace Ombry, Michigan

Sarah Orem, Virginia

Marketia Patterson, Georgia

Katie Paul, California

Martha Pearson, New York

Thomas Pearson, New York

Doug Patterson, Georgia

Dana Peirce, DVM, Maine

Rose Penchansky, Tennessee

Melissa Perisanidis, Connecticut

Megan T. Piasecki, Ohio

Dan Probst, Missouri

Patricia Probst, Missouri

Jenifer Putalavage-Ross, Texas

Kala Radigan, New York

Josh Riman, New York

Louis Romero, New York

Kelsey Rooney-Dorst, Oklahoma

Amy Roost, California

April Salazar, New Jersey

Lamar Saxon, Texas

Reneé Saxon, Texas

Lauren Sharpe, New York

K. Shea New Jersey

Dana Sloope, Florida

Adam Sloope, Florida

Amy Soprych, RN Illinois

Dorothy Spence, Oregon

Shira Sussi, New York

Adam Swank, Iowa

Mindy Swank, Iowa

Kadie Tannehill, Missouri

Justin Tannehill, Missouri

Chris Taylor, Colorado

Margaret Thoele, Illinois

Ryan Thoele, Illinois

S. Thompson, Alabama

Alexandra Tronnes, Wisconsin

Hadleigh Tweedall, Tennessee

Robin Utz, Missouri

James Utz, Missouri

Melanie Wahl, Missouri

Jonathan Watling, MD, Maine

Dana Weinstein, Maryland

Ayanna Whitmore, New York

Nicole Williams, Kansas

Phil Wood, Missouri

Janet Zaretsky, Texas

Note: This letter was updated on 2/8/19 following the State of the Union