Over 100 studies show that abortion is a risk factor for preterm birth in later pregnancies. Three of the mothers behind that shocking statistic have agreed to share their stories, in the hope that their experiences will help other women avoid this tragedy. If you would like to add your story, please contact Prevent Preterm.
"At age 18, I had a one-year-old son and was in the process of ending an abusive marriage when I became pregnant," Daria says. "I was told everything would be taken care of and scheduled for the abortion." She knew she wanted more children someday, but the timing was all wrong. Abortion felt like her only choice, and she received no counseling.
Daria experienced no immediate physical complications, but was emotionally traumatized and battled a deep depression. After a suicide attempt, Daria found the courage to seek help and rebuild her life.
"I did eventually remarry a loving man and began building a family," she says, "but each subsequent pregnancy brought complications." Daria had difficulty carrying a baby to term. She was ordered on bed rest to prevent miscarriage, but even with the bed rest, Daria's oldest daughter was born prematurely.
Daria's story ends happily: "Though plagued with abortion-related reproductive problems, I was thankfully able to have four children," she says. She also adopted a child from a woman who was at risk for abortion.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I went through," Daria says.
When Jenn was just 16 years old, she had an abortion after becoming pregnant by rape. As it turned out, however, she was pregnant with twins. Only one was aborted; the other survived. After doctors realized that Jenn was still pregnant, she decided not to have a second abortion and her child was placed for adoption.
Jenn finished school and became a nurse. She later gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, who was born nine weeks preterm (30 weeks).
"I couldn't even hold her for the first five days," Jenn recalls. Due to her size, "we dressed her in doll clothes." Elizabeth had serious breathing issues; this is common in preemies, because the lungs are among the last organs organs to fully develop in a fetus.
Elizabeth was finally able to leave the hospital two and a half weeks after her birth. The ordeal of those two and a half weeks was both emotionally and financially draining on the family. Jenn has also suffered from other health issues that she attributes to the botched abortion she suffered as a teen.
Deb was only 19 years old when she had an abortion. She was under considerable pressure to abort: both from her boyfriend, who was uninterested in a long-term commitment, and from the abortion clinic, which told her that her unborn baby would be "retarded" due to Deb's use of alcohol and marijuana.
"At the time, abortion had only been legal for a few years. They really had no way of knowing what the long-term effects would be," she says.
Twenty years later, she gave birth to a son—far too early. Due to a placental abruption, he had to be delivered at just 28 weeks, which was eleven weeks before full term. He did not leave the hospital until 45 days after his birth.
Deb's son is now a teenager. Fortunately, although his extremely preterm birth did lead to vision problems, he is otherwise healthy.
"I didn't learn about the preterm birth link until after he was born," Deb says. She now speaks publicly about her experience to warn others.