Resources for Reporters

Pregnant Person’s Lived Experience

Though pregnant people are most acutely impacted by restrictions to abortion, we found in our media analysis that a real person’s lived experience was the voice least likely to be included in coverage about abortion — just 8% of articles in national print outlets included the perspective of a person who can experience pregnancy. 

While breaking political news can make it difficult to source relevant first-person accounts, there are organizations that can connect reporters and journalists with the voices of those affected, along with solid examples of first-person accounts from pregnant people accessing abortion care. 


Examples of first-person lived experience included in coverage:

She and her husband divorced, and she became a single parent while simultaneously building a civil rights organization. Several years later, she remarried and wanted to have more children. However, her doctors warned her that she would most likely have another extremely high-risk pregnancy and her child could suffer.

“I knew that I simply would not be able to go through what I had gone through again,” she said. Despite taking precautions, she became pregnant and eventually came to the ‘heartbreaking” decision to have an abortion to ensure the safety of her body and her future child. She emphasized that it had to — and should — be her decision.

Jae, 37: When I was a teenager, I fell in love with a much older man. I thought we would be together forever, so when I realized I was several months pregnant I was sure he would see it as something to bring us together. I wasn’t shocked at the suggestion of an abortion, but the way he began to treat me as a transaction hurt. He took me to a different town across the state and spent the whole drive back explaining why it was my fault we had to break things off. Years later, I remembered the pain of that heartache but remain grateful that I was able to have the abortion. I couldn’t have had a child with that man, nor been able to be a parent. Because of access to safe medical abortion, I was able to graduate from college and live my life as a transgender non-binary person. Abortion is a transgender issue, too.

Still, Pennywell was afraid for her health, and frightened that the birth could even kill her. She worried that her kids could lose their mum. “There was a lot of crying on my part because I was torn,” she said. “It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing or being able to do.” After hours of talking, she recalls having “a moment of stillness”, and felt it just made the most sense.

Pennywell had hurried to get her own abortion out of fear that the laws could soon change. “How long are these places still going to be here?” she’d wondered. “If I wait too much longer, am I going to find out, oh, you should have been here a week earlier before you know this law passed or this happened?” If the clinics close, a lot of women will be disadvantaged, she thought. Some will have to go out of state, if they can afford it. “It causes more hurdles,” she said. “You’re already going through so much emotionally, mentally and spiritually that it’s too hard to have to go that one more step or 10 more steps.”

“My husband and I made the decision to terminate the pregnancy after being married for four years and having two children together. The pregnancy came at a time when I knew I would not be able to care for three young children. I knew my limitations as a mother and made the decision, along with my husband, with this in mind. He was working long days and I had made the decision to leave my full-time employment for a freelance career. We could not afford day care for two children and could not rely on family to help out ― both our parents were working full time. I wanted to be the best mother possible for my children at home and valued my own mental health. I knew having another baby at that time in our lives would have destroyed our marriage. We eventually had another child, but when we were ready.

Casey Duran was 24 years old and making $15 an hour when she learned she was six weeks pregnant. She was on birth control and she asked her partner to use protection as well, she said. “I knew I wasn’t ready, and I tried to protect myself the best ways I thought,” the 26-year-old said. “And it still happened. It can happen.” “It’s not just about women not having access because of rape,” Duran said of the abortion debate.

She’s exhausted; shadowy crescents frame her bright eyes. Just a few weeks ago, she graduated from the University of Mississippi. “My one goal, as pathetic as it sounds, was do not walk across that stage pregnant,” she says. “Everything I worked for…I’m going to remember graduating and being pregnant.” Kate has been trying to get an abortion since March. It’s a Friday evening at the end of May, and she was just turned away from an Arkansas clinic, about 200 miles from home.

The procedure itself equalled two months of LT’s rent for the four-bedroom trailer she lives in with her sister. Her partner paid for half of it. She’s behind in bills by more than $2,500. Her tuition at a community college is $2,000 a semester for her associate degree in Biological Sciences. Her bank account is negative. She has a four-year-old to feed and keep in childcare. This is life on the financial edge and an abortion can push someone over it. But it’s far less than the cost of an unwanted pregnancy, LT said. “Neither [my boyfriend] and I are either financially or mentally ready to bring another child into the world. It’s hard for me being a single mom working two jobs and a full-time student with one child alone. So I couldn’t imagine doing it with two,” LT said.

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