Your coworker’s abortion story

28 Jun 2022

Today, a worker you might know shares her story of getting an abortion. We also offer a list of resources for abortion funds and mutual aid networks plus tips and toolkits for safe and secure abortion planning.

A person with long hair and gesturing with hands out appears to share a story in a room with a dozen other people in business casual attire and modern art on the wall behind them

Abortion touches everyone / Source

Abortion touches everyone. Abortion is a necessary part of bodily autonomy and an essential component of health care.

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court reversed 50 years of legal precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade. This ruling will have ramifications for your coworkers and community. But abortion bans will not lower abortion rates – we know they will only make them less safe and disproportionately impact Black people and transgender and gender-nonconforming people who can become pregnant. We know denial of abortion perpetuates poverty, and forced pregnancy is an egregious human rights violation that can also be deadly. Black organizers in the South have been preparing for the fall of Roe for decades and have already developed grassroots networks for providing abortion care in the face of hostile state legislatures and limited resources.

In response to Friday’s ruling, some corporations and major tech companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Netflix promised to pay for expenses for employees who might have to travel to other states to receive abortion care. However, they refuse to say whether or not they will comply with law enforcement and hand over user data that could be used to prosecute abortion seekers. It is also unclear how such a policy would be actualized, through HR, medical, and legal bureaucracies. While Meta promised to pay for employees’ abortions, the company has also banned internal discussions of controversial topics like abortion and the Roe v. Wade ruling in particular. Meanwhile, a few social media accounts tried to help by suggesting abortion seekers use NFTs to cover costs. Don’t do that.

Company promises seem conflicted at best, harmful at worst. In contrast, established abortion funds and networks sprang into action. We urge our fellow workers in tech to follow the lead of experienced organizers who have been working towards reproductive justice and digital security for a long time. Read on for your coworker’s abortion story followed by a collection of resources.

The Worker’s Perspective

By a coworker

Hello there,

It’s your coworker. You know me, we’ve shared some laughs and some drinks. We are friendly, but we keep things professional. And in our professional relationship, there is no space for so much of what makes us human.

I’m hoping to change that today: I am going to tell you about something very personal that happened to me, and I hope that after reading this you will think about all the other people in the office who are affected by Friday’s Supreme Court decision to strip away our bodily autonomy.

Ten years ago I had an abortion that I have never regretted.

My relationship with my boyfriend was never good. I was nineteen and he was nine years my senior when we met. I was young and stupid and he came with baggage heavier than anyone could lift, unprocessed trauma that he took out on me. My time with him was constant worry that I would make a mistake and set him off. The punishment for saying the wrong thing was the silent treatment and coldness for days. Breaking a glass would cause him to spiral. I hated it and I despised him, but I didn’t know how to leave — he threatened to kill himself when I tried.

When I went to a competition in another country (one more attempt to get away), I didn’t realize my period was late. When I got sick with bronchitis while there, I didn’t notice my period never came. But everything started to feel wrong. There were swastikas graffitied on the buildings by my apartment. The old city was beautiful, but the air made me sick. The people were friendly enough, but there was something so sinister about it all that I couldn’t put my finger on. Pneumonia made it difficult to breathe, but something else entirely made my experience rotten. This wasn’t for me — I dropped out of the competition after a week and flew back home. I was nauseous constantly, sad, scared, and I didn’t understand what was happening to me.

A pregnancy test confirmed it. I ran up the stairs to our apartment. “I need an abortion,” I cried to him. He was supportive, disarmed, allowing me to take the lead. “OK,” he said. “OK.”

The days waiting for my appointment were excruciating. There was something growing in my uterus, metastasizing. A tumor. I felt disgusting, claustrophobic within my own body, with nowhere to run.

The day of the abortion, we rode the train to midtown, walked past the lone protestor with the bible quotes and the bloody fetus pictures, past the police barricades, through the doors, past the security, and rode up the elevator to an unbelievably high floor. There were other people waiting for their appointments, coupled up, sitting silently, keeping their eyes looking straight ahead or at the floor. My 2012 abortion cost $500, paid in cash, leaving no record — a secret.

My abortion meant, to me, my freedom. In the ten years since, I switched careers, moved states, met my husband, and had a very, very wanted baby. In the ten years since, I have learned what it means to really love and be loved. To love without taking, without strings. To adore without pressure, to care for another person gently, and with my full heart. I take that love, and I give it to my little one, too.

When we decided to have a baby, I was worried about the claustrophobia and fear returning. But it never did. My second pregnancy, my wanted pregnancy, while very difficult and dangerous (as so many are) felt like home to me, and I shared this space with a little, hiccupping, kicking creature until his early birth at the start of the pandemic.

I think about aborting my first pregnancy often, but never with regret. I think about how much I have to give this child of mine every day, through every milestone reached and every ER trip taken, through the tears and the bumps and the bruises, through the terrifying seizures and the everyday disappointment he experiences when things don’t go his way, and I think how good it is that this is my child with my person now. How little space I had in my heart and how ill-equipped I was ten years ago, when I was trapped in a relationship that made me hate myself and fear my boyfriend. How good it is that I didn’t go through with putting into this world a person that would have to take on so much trauma, so much anger, so much sadness. I stopped the cycle. I broke free.

Abortion resources

How to stay secure:

  • Abortion Mobile Privacy Settings Quick Guide, from the Digital Defense Fund.
  •, from your friends.
  • Security/privacy tips for attending protests, from EFF.
  • General digital security advice for people seeking reproductive health, from EFF.
  • Delete every digital trace of any menstrual tracking app, as Gina Neff says (or, as Melissa Stewart suggests, somewhat ironically: “Download every period app. Start a new period every day. Write a list of your enemies in blood and whisper their names as you fall asleep.”)
  • In short: if anyone you know needs an abortion in a state where it is newly illegal, make sure they understand that digital security is key. As numerous critics have observed, however, deleting data from apps is not enough to guarantee safety; emails, texts, and search histories have been used as evidence to prosecute abortion seekers. Your digital footprint could be used against you in court. Search for abortion information using a VPN, a Tor browser (don’t just use incognito mode, authorities can still track you), and clear all browsing history afterwards. Download the Signal app to communicate with people about abortion-related information and turn on disappearing messages/delete chat history and call logs as soon as possible.

How to access abortion services:

Where to donate and volunteer:

  • Donate to a local abortion fund in your state or across the country or to the National Network of Abortion Funds. These are the groups that will be helping people arrange and pay for travel, make clinic appointments, and support them through the process of getting to care in the states where abortion is still legal.
  • Donate to the Abortion Care Network. This is a network of independent providers who already support the majority of abortion travelers. The independent clinics in states where abortion is legal will need to increase capacity exponentially to serve travelers from around the country, and they need financial support.
  • Donate to the Repro Legal Defense Fund. This is a group of lawyers fighting to protect reproductive autonomy, and keeping people out of jail.

What we can do as workers in and around tech:

  • Pressure your company to extend GDPR/CCPA subject access and deletion rights to all US residents, as David Carroll urges.
  • Demand that your companies help protect people seeking reproductive health, with plenty of points from EFF.