Terminating a pregnancy is always hard. There are no circumstances in which it is an easy thing to do. I have been amazed lately by the strong women who have been sharing how much they struggled with this decision and with the grief and loss that comes with it. I want anyone who has been faced with terminating a pregnancy to know that your choice, your life, your feelings are valid and important.

I also want those who hold strong opinions about termination of pregnancy to recognize that your opinions are theoretical, while people who have been through it have real, lived experience. Our lived experience is always more complicated, more shaded, more intricate than anyone could ever understand from outside of it. We can’t put a theoretical opinion on someone’s lived experience without having been there ourselves; it can’t match in intricacy and so it only diminishes.

We have to recognize the limits of our understanding. We can only know what we know; we can’t know someone else’s reality unless we are invested in being curious and caring about learning it. There is wisdom in being able to recognize when you have an opinion about something you have not experienced and seeing if there is space to learn, room to allow your mind to be changed.     

When you’ve been through something difficult like terminating a pregnancy, you can lose yourself in a web of thoughts, feelings, and fears. Allow yourself to experience them all, but view them through a lens of self-compassion: mindful of what you’re experiencing, and with care and kindness toward yourself. Be good to yourself. Finally, know that many have been where you are. Feel the warmth of their understanding when you worry about others’ judgment. And allow yourself to know that many of us do not judge, but care about you for where you have been.