DENVER — Following a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that was leaked to Politico that indicates the court will overturn the 1973 case legalizing abortion, women who have had abortions in the past are caught in the middle of a decades-long debate.
Two of those women, with differing perspectives on abortion, shared their stories on Tuesday.
Two years out from my abortion, I am able to help other people get the health care that they need.
Selina Najar was 25 years old when she found out she was pregnant. It was in the summer of 2020, the same year she started working at the largest abortion rights organization in Colorado, Cobalt. Not only did her unintended pregnancy coincide with her career getting off the ground, but it was close to the start of the pandemic as well.
“I sat down and wrote out my priorities — what was happening in my life, what I wanted for the next two to 10 years," Najar said. “Came to the decision that it just, it was not the right time for me to start a family.”
Najar said she received support from those close to her and instantly thought of how different her experience was from her own mother's.
“Her abortion story stuck with me because it was so traumatizing for her. She was shunned and ridiculed by her really traditional, conservative family who were not supportive," Najar said. “When making this decision, the contrast between those two situations, honestly, I thought a lot about that throughout the entire process.”
When Najar considered the financial reality of having a child, she realized she would have likely had to move back to her hometown of Grand Junction in order to make it work, leaving her life and career on the Front Range. She said her decision to have an abortion allowed her to pursue what she wanted for her future.
“Not just financially, but I think physically and emotionally, I would not be as healthy of a person as I am right now," Najar said. “The overwhelming feeling I feel when I think about my abortion is relief.”
Najar said she believed her experience with abortion allowed her the life she loves.
“Abortion care doesn't have to be traumatic. It's societal stigma that traumatizes people," Najar said.
My whole life changed in that very moment.
Rachael Flick was finishing her freshman year of college and was in her first serious relationship when she was 18. She suspected she was pregnant, took a test and it came back positive.
“The thing that really shocked me was this sense of excitement. I felt really connected to this pregnancy in a way that I hadn't expected because I had been feeling dread, you know, fear of the unknown," Flick said.
Many of the same questions Najar asked herself also ran through Flick's mind.
“All of the possibilities, all of the consequences, what would happen to my future?” Flick said. “One of the most powerful motivators for me was fear.”
Flick said it appeared as though following her dreams and career were not compatible with having a child. She decided to terminate her pregnancy.
Looking back, she believes she was trying to run from the consequences of the experience.
“I was just very torn between that spark of hope and excitement that I'd felt and also that deep fear. And I'd really bought into the abortion narrative, which is abortion is about freedom," Flick said. “People tell you what abortion can do for you, but they don't tell you what the experience of abortion will do to your heart, to your soul, to your mind. They don't talk about the potential for PTSD.”
Flick spoke out about her experience now because she believes it's important to explain what women may endure after an abortion. She is passionate about being honest with her story, saying she regrets her decision.
“Death ends a life, but it doesn't end a relationship. And I know that when I say that, that I go right at the heart of abortion, which is when does human life start?” Flick said. “I am not in favor of abortion and definitely not for a woman in my circumstances where it was a decision of convenience or fear. There was no medical necessity. It was a way to save an idea that I had, and I don't believe that I had the moral authority to take that life.”
Flick said she does believe in access to abortion in order to save the life of a mother.
I would speak to her with empathy and compassion. I've never cast judgment on another woman who's post-abortive. I've never thrown rocks. I live in a glass house. I don't come with a pitchfork or a burning torch to any conversation around abortion.
When asked what the two women would say to each other, each spoke with a level of shared understanding for the nuances of their respective decisions.
“Whether or not she regrets her decision to get an abortion, should that influence whether or not somebody else is able to make that decision for themselves?" Najar said. “I am truly, earnestly sorry to hear that she regrets her abortion. I hope that she is able to have the family that she wants.”
Flick had twin children with her late husband, El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy Micah Flick, who was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“I'm glad that I'm not the judge and jury. That's not my job," Flick said. “I would love the opportunity to come to the table with her. I would love the opportunity to hear her perspective. I would love to hear her experience. I would love to hold space for her.”
At the root of this story, the two women disagree on abortion. However, both are seated at different ends of the same table, connected by a decision that continues to divide a nation.