Two women who had abortions share their stories, perspectives on Issue 1

Ohioans will decide Tuesday whether to give people a constitutional right to an abortion.
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 6:59 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Ohioans are just hours from deciding whether to give people a constitutional right to an abortion and other forms of reproductive care by approving Issue 1. Ahead of the election, two women are sharing their personal experiences with abortion and their very different perspectives on the issue.

“Getting an abortion, for me, was absolutely critical,” Megan Schmidt, who had an abortion in her early twenties said. “I was not financially ready. I would say I was not emotionally ready.”

Schmidt is one of thousands of people who have had abortions in Ohio, but there are fewer women who share her story.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of abortions Ohio residents get has steadily been declining in recent decades, reaching a record low in 2022 at 18,488 abortions.

“I was about seven or eight weeks along,” Schmidt said. “The child that I would have had, would not have had the life that they deserve.”

The majority of people who have abortions are like Schmidt, with 89.1% receiving the procedure during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or the first trimester. The other 10.9% happen after 13 weeks, during the second trimester.

Currently, abortion in Ohio is only allowed before a person reaches 21 weeks and six days into their pregnancy. Issue 1 would change that. It would allow the state to ban abortions after fetal viability, that’s when a fetus could survive outside the womb. There isn’t a medical consensus on when fetal viability occurs, but health experts say it generally occurs sometime after 19 weeks of pregnancy.

Of the 342 abortions performed after 19 weeks in Ohio in 2022, only one was considered a viable pregnancy, according to Ohio’s Department of Health.

“I want everyone else to be able to make the same decision I did, if that’s what they want,” Schmidt, who has canvassed for Issue 1, said. “It’s all very straightforward. It’s not this scary thing that people make it out to be.”

Not all women agree.

“I went through with the abortion. It wasn’t safe. It wasn’t fast. There were some complications, and at the end, I knew that all I wanted to do was go back half an hour and change what had happened,” Kerstin Pakka, who had an abortion at 13 weeks said. “I began having depression episodes, anxiety. I developed an eating disorder. I experienced suicidal thoughts.”

Unlike Schmidt, Pakka is against Issue 1.

“When all of these people say they were happy with their abortions, I truly believe that that’s what they believe in that moment,” Pakka said. “However, I know that doesn’t last forever.”

If Issue 1 does not pass, a six-week abortion ban is making its way through the court system and could go into law.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.