As easy as Kat Pritchard’s pregnancy was, she was not prepared for her son’s “traumatic” birth. After she stalled at 7 centimeters dilated, doctors rushed her into the operating room for an emergency C-section. Once he was born, doctors became worried about his lungs and he was transferred to another hospital.
“I didn’t get to meet him for 14 hours after he was born,” Pritchard, who lives in North Carolina, told BuzzFeed News in tears.
To think that someone would have to go through that because they didn’t have any other choice only strengthened Pritchard’s support for abortion rights.
People across the nation are mourning the hit to their reproductive rights after the Supreme Court announced in a 6–3 decision that it was overturning Roe v. Wade, reversing nearly 50 years of legal precedent that protected a pregnant person’s right in the US to end a pregnancy.
With Roe overturned, 26 states are expected to ban abortion early in pregnancy or outright, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research and advocacy group that tracks state legislation. But abortion care will continue to be accessible in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia, which have laws in place that protect it as a right. Medication abortions, which have grown to account for more than half of all abortions in the US, are also still an option — though they too face opposition from anti-abortion legislators. For people needing to travel out of state for a procedure, abortion funds can help cover the costs.
Anti-abortion activists often argue that once somebody gives birth, they will understand the love a parent has for a child and change their views. But parents BuzzFeed News spoke to said that their love for their children in no way means they oppose abortion rights.
Pritchard said loving her son and being pro-abortion aren’t mutually exclusive. She is in a stable relationship and owns a home, which makes raising a child easier for her than for some others, but she’s still grappling with the traumatic birth experience.
Seven months later, she has a hard time reliving it.
“I don’t think I fully processed it even still,” she said. “My husband and I talk about it every once in a while. I think he was really traumatized by it, and it’s just really hard to talk about it.”
Priscilla Toscana, a 22-year-old mother in California, was among those who tweeted that becoming a mother had only made her more in favor of abortion rights.
“Childcare is not affordable,” she said. “If you don’t have a family member that can help you, help babysit, you’re fucked because childcare is so unaffordable. I was lucky that I got to breastfeed my child, but these formula shortages are crazy. It takes a whole mental toll on you being a mother, and physically, mentally, it’s not easy. So I can see why some people don’t want to be moms. Even more now that I’m a mother I see it. It’s definitely not for everybody.”
Toscana emphasized that being pro-abortion has “no correlation” with how much she loves her son.
“I love my baby,” she said. “I bond with him. I spend all my time with him. I don’t even think I have room to love another human the way I love him. I don’t think I’m capable of, at least now, of raising another baby. I don’t think I can give them the same attention that I give my son right now.”
Pregnancy and childbirth can come with long-lasting health issues, both physical and mental. Gracie Crosse, a mother of two in Oregon, said her mental health declined after she had her first child.
“There would be days where I was so depressed I regretted ever having my baby in the first place because I missed my pre-baby life so much,” she told BuzzFeed News over text. “It was such a hard transition.”
Kady White, a 35-year-old mother in Dallas, had never had health issues before giving birth to her daughter, who is now 16 months old. But pregnancy and childbirth wreaked havoc on her body in unexpected — and possibly permanent — ways.
“When I went back to work, I noticed I was having trouble focusing on the computer screen and having to squint a lot,” White said. “I went to the eye doctor and they said the condition I had during pregnancy, preeclampsia ... apparently it messed with the blood vessels behind my eyes and affected my vision.”
The pregnancy complication, which can cause dangerously high blood pressure, has never fully resolved itself. White still has high blood pressure and is on heart medication indefinitely.
“It’s not just like stretch marks or weight changes — it’s so much more,” she said. “No woman that does not want to endure that should have to for any reason.”
For some people, experiencing a miscarriage can solidify their belief in reproductive rights. Rachel, a 37-year-old mother of two in northern Virginia, said hers served as a wake-up call for the importance of unrestricted abortion access.
“I had something called a ‘missed miscarriage,’ which is when your body plays a cruel trick on you — at some point you’re pregnant, and at some point, that fetus stops developing,” Rachel, who asked that her last name not be used, said. “You think you’re going to an appointment that’s going to be exciting and joyful, and your world comes crashing down around you.”
Rachel had to get a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C), commonly done after a miscarriage to remove remaining fetal tissue from the uterus. After the news broke Friday of Roe v. Wade being overturned, she worried not only about how it would affect abortion access, but also about the possibility of people being denied medical treatment after a miscarriage.
“It just occurred to me — would this ever get restricted?” she said. “Emotionally, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t get this procedure for some reason.”
Ishtar Archer considered abortion when she was pregnant with her first child, but said she ultimately decided to continue her pregnancy. Archer, who lives in North Carolina, has three children and she experienced high-risk pregnancies with all of them.
America has the highest rate of mortality of pregnant people among developed countries, which only drives the argument for pro–abortion rights advocates. In 2020, the mortality rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births; in 2019 it was 20.1 per 100,000.
Archer said her third pregnancy was “completely unexpected,” and because she lives in North Carolina, where abortion is only legal until the fetus is viable on its own, she panicked.
“It leads you into a state of panic, and that you need to make an immediate decision,” she said. “Knowing that at some point it could come down to their life or my life ... I feel a lot more comfortable saying I’m pro-abortion and having access to it.”