The women who put a face on abortion

Aiyana, a 22-year-old New York artist, says she was 20 years old when she became pregnant and had an abortion

Aiyana, a 22-year-old New York artist, says she was 20 years old when she became pregnant and had an abortion Photo: ALLISON JOYCE / Reuters

Five US women who have had abortions have publicly posed for portraits, putting a face on a subject that is often taboo.

The women were photographed by US photojournalist Allison Joyce, who writes she was surprised to learn that 40 per cent of US women will have abortions during their lifetime.

"While it's a personal and private experience, there are 45 million women in America who share in it, and it shouldn't be a shameful secret," says Joyce.

"The women I met came from every age and economic spectrum. Some were in marriages, some were single, some were in relationships and stayed in relationships after the abortion. Some were on birth control and some were not. But their stories all shared one thing in common, none of them made their decisions lightly and none of them regretted their decisions."


Aiyana(pictured above), a 22-year-old New York artist, says she was 20 years old when she became pregnant and had an abortion. "He ended up not being as supportive as I thought he would be (at the immediate time). He did everything he could, aside from paying for it. I initially paid for everything out of pocket. Although I was reimbursed for it - but to cover the initial costs, I took care of all of that. After it happened, when I did feel like I needed a lot of emotional support, he didn't really provide that. So that was a contributing factor to us breaking up, ” Aiyana said.

Lisa, a 45-year-old writer from Massachusetts, became pregnant and had two abortions when she was in her 30's. "All I kept hearing was, 'I will never love you and I will never love this baby.' … When I looked down the road five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, I didn't see any happiness in this child's life. I wanted the baby. I knew that I could love it and I could give it certain things, but hate is a powerful emotion to overcome in a child's life. Not being wanted is a very powerful emotion in a child's life. You can do a lot of damage to a child with that feeling. I couldn't inflict that kind of pain on a child - knowing what that felt like... So I agreed to terminate the pregnancy... After some while… I said 'Look, if you didn't want children you should have controlled your - fully controlled - your reproduction.' And that's what upsets me so much about when I hear the abortion debate now, is that I don't hear any part of that at all - there's nothing about men needing to control their reproduction. Because it's almost like women enjoy having abortions. It's like it's a cavalier decision," Lisa said.

(Image: ALLISON JOYCE / Reuters)

Jennifer, a 23-year-old New York nurse, says she was 17 when she became pregnant and had an abortion. “He’s not father material… When I went to the clinic and I told him, he wasn't surprised… He knew he made an accident, but he didn't tell me he made an accident so I could go get a Plan B… We didn’t wear a condom… He pissed me off and he was trying to convince me to keep it, not keep it, keep it - and I was just confused, ” Jennifer said.

(Image: ALLISON JOYCE / Reuters)

Leigh, a 26-year-old Pennsylvania bartender, says she was 21 when she became pregnant and had an abortion. “Honestly, I don't think I'm ever going to really forget any detail about any of it, down to the one decision that made it actually end up becoming that… It happens. All of a sudden it's a month and a half and getting nauseous with beer and you know.. (the) test came back positive and everything. We sat out and we talked about it and he was a sweetheart about everything for the most part. He made it very clear that it was my choice. But at the same time, he was also very honest about what would happen, going this way or that way, with the decision. …If we were to have the kid, we would get married and be together for the rest of our lives. If we didn't work out and we broke up for some reason, he would fight for full custody of the kid and make sure I never saw them again," Leigh said.

(Image: ALLISON JOYCE / Reuters)

Lisa, a 27-year-old Massachusetts restaurant manager, says she was 24 when she became pregnant and had an abortion. “I told my husband at the time - we weren't divorced yet but… I was leaving him, and he was really supportive and (it was) surprising because it was not a great relationship anyway… I didn't have to think about it. It wasn't like, 'will I, won't I.' It was like, this is happening. I think I was kind of fortunate in a really sad way that it wasn't a difficult decision… I was alone. I didn't have any family and I didn't have any friends really. I had one friend but she was not a very good friend. So I kind of went through it all alone," Lisa said.


From Reuters