Some readers of the Seattle Times were expecting it. Most don’t.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the US Supreme Court appeared poised to rule Roe v. Wade, which would end federal protections against abortion and leave it up to the states to decide whether to allow the procedure.
The news sparked both outrage and joy across the Northwest. Many of Washington’s top elected Democratic leaders, including Gov. Jay Inslee, raged over the draft statement, and thousands of protesters rallied to demonstrate for abortion rights. Some conservatives, meanwhile, hope the draft statement will turn Washington against abortion.
We received an extraordinary response to our poll asking for Seattle Times readers’ reactions to the draft Supreme Court decision. More than 300 people have written to us to share their stories.
Some wrote about themselves or loved ones having illegal abortions before Roe went into effect. Health professionals detailed the fear and harm endured by patients without access to reproductive care. And one reader shared with us her regrets after deciding to have an abortion.
The vast majority of respondents were women. Most wrote about their support for abortion rights and the possible loss of federal abortion protections. A handful of respondents self-identified as anti-abortion, while others advocated some restrictions on abortions, such as the few that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy.
We’ve selected a handful of the most compelling answers and edited them slightly for clarity, grammar, length, and style.
I am terrified and disgusted by this possible reversal of Roe v. Calf.
I am 56, married and have a child at university. I live in Washington but grew up in New Mexico. When I was 16, I had an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Albuquerque. My friend came with me and I felt safe and cared for during this personal earthquake of my life.
One of the reasons I made this decision (aside from not being ready to be a parent at 16 and dropping out of high school) was because my mom worked at an abortion clinic and I had an abortion there many times Sommer volunteered. I personally witnessed the care each woman received as well as the crazy and sometimes violent protests that took place outside most days of the week. Everyone had escorts in and out of the clinic (staff and patients) but it was still an experience that defies description.
I grew up understanding from a young age that this is about a woman’s body and her personal choices about her healthcare. I grew up taking this for granted and never believed it could be taken away from me. I fear for my daughter and all daughters in this new world of extremist politics.
Location: Bainbridge Island
I was in college when Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were decided. I was stunned and appalled that such ideas could be supported by the United States government.
There is never and never can be a “right” for a person to willfully kill another innocent person simply because that other person’s existence is temporarily uncomfortable. The whole concept is vile and barbaric. As Judge Samuel Alito says, Roe and Doe were terribly wrong, and even Ruth Bader Ginsburg – one convinced Abortion advocate – agreed the decisions have no basis in the US Constitution.
There has been a lot of talk lately about maternal bodily autonomy. However, such autonomy can never be considered absolute! With every abortion, (at least) two people are harmed. The mother’s right to autonomy must always give way to the child’s more fundamental right not to be killed.
Whoever leaked this draft document violated the inherent need for security of the US Supreme Court judicial process. Whoever did it deserves at least to be fired and disfellowshipped from future government posts; and if you are in the legal profession, you will be expelled in disgrace.
I remember thinking I could have an abortion, although I hardly knew what it meant or if it was legal. (I wouldn’t have had one if it was illegal though.) I was told it cost around $300 and that was a huge problem. My husband was making only $400 a month as a sophomore in 1971! Luckily, it turned out I wasn’t pregnant after all, so “problem” solved! But I remember my feelings well.
Location: Whidbey Island
I am angry and disappointed but not surprised by the news. I want to rage and help, but I feel helpless. My wife and I moved to Seattle from Boise, Idaho over 15 years ago. It can be difficult to be LGBTQ+ when you’re from a place as red as Idaho. We moved here for jobs but found freedom and acceptance. We applied for civil partnership (not offered in Idaho) and later when it was legal we got married.
I didn’t start here. When I was 18 I had an abortion in Boise. I was almost 10 weeks pregnant before I realized what was going on and Planned Parenthood was the only place I could go for help. I was a college student working full time and it was the only time I had sex with a man. I couldn’t even grasp being a mother; it wasn’t something I wanted. I’ve never regretted the abortion, although I’ve only told two or three people, one of them in the past month. It’s something I just got done and moved on to.
I feel like I can’t keep calm anymore. I’m one of the 25% of women who have abortions, and if I can lend my voice or my story to help just one woman, I will. My life wouldn’t be what it is today if I hadn’t had the opportunity. I am angry that anyone would deny others the choice for physical autonomy, let alone such a personal choice.
Idaho can say it’s strongly anti-abortion, but I’d argue that the state is all for controlling women. Look no further than the sea of older white men (mostly) running their government. I love Boise, but Idaho breaks my heart.
dr Barbara Schwartz
I’m a retired gynecologist old enough to live in a world without the protection of Roe v. Wade to have grown up. I went to medical school just a few years after that landmark decision. I was mentored by doctors who saw the consequences of desperate decisions made by women unable to access safe care and who turned to illegal, unsafe abortions. Many of these women lost their lives.
I have delivered thousands of babies throughout my career. I have also counseled a number of women who have faced the very difficult decision of terminating a pregnancy. None of these women made this choice lightly. But it was their choice and they didn’t have to fear judgment or risk an unsafe abortion.
In my opinion, being pro-life means standing up for everyone, including the women who become pregnant. The most risky thing a woman will ever do during her reproductive years is to carry a pregnancy to term. Every single woman deserves to make that choice for herself and receive safe care, whatever her decision. It’s a decision she should be able to make with the sensitive and scientific medical advice of her doctor.
A very wise pediatrician I met during my training said something that has stayed with me over the years: All children deserve not just to be born. They deserve to be planned, loved and cared for. We must not return to the barbaric days before women could safely make decisions about their own futures, including whether and when to have children.
I am an 85 year old retired nurse with three grown children, one of which was the best surprise I have ever had. However, I am sure that there is no one size fits all or answer that fits all. At various times I was decidedly either for or against abortion. Today I would like to share what three of my patients went through in relation to abortion.
One was a very staunch Christian who was diagnosed with cancer on her first antenatal visit. Good marriage, 2 year old son, planned and excited about her second pregnancy. But even if she did decide to give her life for the child, one of the nation’s top gynecologists saw no way to allow the mother to live long enough to give birth to the baby mature enough to have a chance at life.
The second was a 24-year-old woman who chose to have an abortion at an accredited facility, where care was so poor that she presented to our emergency room with severe sepsis and a 101-degree fever. The result was a hysterectomy and colostomy.
The third was a disabled survivor of a rape in a nursing home. Again her physical condition prevented the baby from living long enough to become viable and her condition made her difficult to save. Without sharing the very real emotional trauma, the horrifying details, both physical and psychological, of patients and staff alike, how can I really make the public aware of the complexities of abortion-related issues? This problem is best left in the hands of women and their doctors. One size fits no one.
An earlier version of this story misrepresented Kathleene Daly‘Sage.