Abortion Story #237: Going to court

Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days. What follows is the opening of Heather’s experience. Now 38, Heather shares about her decision to have an abortion as a teenager. As part of her story, she describes what it was like to go to court to obtain care without her parents’ involvement. Read Heather’s full narrative as published at NotAlone.us, an online abortion story-sharing website to ensure people “who have had abortions know that they are part of a community.”

Note: Per the Guttmacher Institute, 37 states currently restrict a young person’s ability to access safe, confidential abortion as part of the range of health services they may need. Heather’s story includes her experience navigating the “judicial bypass” process, where a young person must seek a judge’s approval to access abortion without parental involvement. Read more from Advocates for Youth about how judicial bypass and other parental involvement mandates are harmful barriers to youth health and rights.


“I was 17 in the autumn of 1993. I lived in the quintessential “Small Town USA,” and even though my parents knew I was (or had been) sexually active, they were very much against oral contraceptives. I had been dating my boyfriend for several months and, even though we used condoms every time we had sex, I got pregnant. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would have an abortion – I was a Freshman in college, unemployed, still living with my parents, and knew that my entire family would be publicly shamed if I were to be pregnant and unmarried. I knew I didn’t want a baby then, maybe even ever, and certainly not under the current circumstances.

I was adamant in my decision to have an abortion, although I did discuss it with my boyfriend. With my 18th birthday still another month away, I decided to go through the judicial bypass process to obtain an abortion as a minor in an effort to have my abortion as quickly as possible while also keeping the knowledge that I was pregnant from my conservative parents. That process involved meeting with a pro bono attorney and appearing in court to explain why I couldn’t get my parents’ approval…”

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