Abortion Story #227: Karen’s story from the Deep South

Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days. The excerpt below is the start of Karen Thurston’s personal story. She opens up about her two abortion experiences, the deep religiously-based shame that followed, and how she worked through it, ultimately arriving at “love, compassion, and understanding.” Read Karen’s full first-person essay that was published by Refinery29.


“I was 13 years old when, according to most everyone here in the Deep South, I became a slut and a killer.

My troubles started when I was born a female, but the inequities of our gender are self-evident. So I’ll jump ahead to the 1970s, when I failed in spectacular fashion at the game of life. This game, a sport in which all of the rules have been written by human and heavenly men, is rigged against us. The object for males is conquest — to have sex early, often and by any means possible. The males almost always win, and they have nothing to lose. The object for females is purity. They must refuse all male advances — be they gentlemanly, aggressive or violent — until marriage. The females rarely win, and they have absolutely everything to lose, from their self-respect, to their reputations, to their promising futures.

My first fail was as a freshman in high school. I was uneducated about sex and worn down by a boyfriend who was a senior. The physical pain of it was horrifying. One day I woke up with an illness so odd that I told everyone about it, including the principal. I can see myself approaching his barrel chest in the hall, the gray lockers aligned around us like uniformed witnesses. As we passed each other, he asked how I was doing. I babbled on and on: It’s so strange. I throw up in the morning, but I feel fine after I eat. Isn’t that so weird?…”

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