On what many experts believe will be the last Mother's Day before Roe v. Wade is overturned, moms are sharing how abortion made it possible for them to be the parents they are today.
Photographer Elizabeth Rudge set out to document the most common face of abortion: Parents.
Most pregnant people who have abortions already have at least one child, according to CDC data. In addition, 66 percent of people who do not have children at the time of their abortion go on to start a family when they’re ready, according to a report published by the National Abortion Federation.
A draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed pregnant people had the constitutional right to abortion care — was leaked to Politico earlier this week. The Supreme Court confirmed its authenticity.
Written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the draft says, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
No official ruling on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban has been made, and the justices could change their minds. Currently, abortion is legal in all 50 states.
If Roe is overturned, 13 states will automatically ban abortion and over a dozen more will severely restrict abortion access.
Before Mother's Day 2022, less than a week after the Supreme Court draft was leaked, TODAY Parents spoke to five moms photographed by Rudge who shared their personal experience with abortion, and explained how it shaped the person and the mother they are today.
Their comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Amanda Carter Gomes, 45, mom of two
"My husband and I were together then, and we were a very new couple. We had a whirlwind romance, and when I went back to visit my family for the holidays I just felt off. Upon my return, I realized my period was 10 days late.
"Before I even took the pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant. When I walked out of the bathroom with the confirmed test, I told my then-partner, now husband, that I was pregnant and calling Planned Parenthood. I knew immediately what I was going to do. My partner was very supportive.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom and have children. I just knew that moment was not the time.
"I remember, before the procedure, the doctor put her hand on my leg and said, 'I remember when I got my first abortion. You're going to be OK.' And while I had no regrets and was not second-guessing my decision, I didn't know anyone in my life who had had an abortion. I felt very isolated. So hearing her say that made me feel seen.
"I always knew I wanted to be a mom and have children. I just knew that moment was not the time to have kids and that I would not be a good parent. So I'm so grateful for abortion access and the ability to make those choices for myself.
"I'm 100% certain that my life would be dramatically different if I had not had an abortion. I would not be living the life I live now."
Frankie Krupa-Vahdani, 30, new mom of one
"I have had two abortions, one when I was 19 and the second in 2019. My first abortion is a pretty straightforward story — I was a freshman in college, was with someone I was dating and I just wasn't ready or in a place where motherhood was a thought I could even entertain.
"My second abortion, in 2019, was because of an ectopic pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant early on, so I went to Planned Parenthood and they did blood work to confirm. The pregnancy hormone was elevated in my body, but they couldn't find anything in my uterus. At first they thought maybe I was just very early on, so they asked me to come back in a few days. I did, had more blood work done and another ultrasound, but they still couldn't find anything.
They found the ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube. An abortion saved my life.
"Then I got a call a day or two later, and they said, 'You need to go the emergency room right now. Your hormone levels are showing that you're definitely pregnant, but since we can't see anything in your uterus you probably have an ectopic pregnancy.'
"In the emergency room, they found the ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube. An abortion saved my life, as the pregnancy was close to rupturing during surgery. I had my entire right fallopian tube removed.
"Abortion is the ultimate gift. I wouldn't be here without it. It's the most impactful thing that's happened in my life. It allowed me and my husband to have our daughter. Having a baby when we were ready was the best thing that has ever happened to us and we're in a good place now, because it was the right time and a healthy pregnancy."
Jenny Jimenez, 46, mom to a 4-year-old daughter
"I had my abortion at 21. I had my daughter at 42. So I had a whole other life — 21 years — in between.
"My abortion was one of the best and easiest decisions I have ever made. It kick-started a period in my life where I really started to make better choices about me and my body. I felt like I had more agency in my body, in my life, after my abortion than I ever did before.
I had my abortion at 21. I had my daughter at 42. So I had a whole other life — 21 years — in between.
"I was kind of going through the motions of being a woman — I didn't really know what it meant to be a woman until I was actively making decisions that impacted my body and my life.
"I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, so I didn't realize I had control over my body for a really long time. But I wanted to have an existence. I wanted my life to be more than my body being for someone else's pleasure and procreation.
"The best parenting decision I made was not to be a parent when I wasn't ready. I've had such a wonderful, bright life. And I didn't know myself at 21. Now I know myself, and I've had so many different experiences. I've traveled the world. I've explored my passions and my interests.
"I created a business for myself and when I was ready to have a child, I had one."
Holly Alexander, 42, mom to a son and a daughter
"I was in a relationship with my first husband for 12 years, married for seven, and we were babies when we met — just 18. ... It was a roller coaster for a few years, until one day he just woke up and left me.
"After he left, I found out I was pregnant. The pregnancy didn't change his decision to leave, and I didn't want to be a single mom at 30. Thankfully, a number of close friends and and even just some acquaintances quietly came forward and told me about their experiences having abortions. And none of them — not a single person — regretted it. Every single one said they were glad they did it and their lives would be different if they didn't.
I remember crying immediately afterwards. The doctor and nurses in the room asked if I was OK, and I said, 'These are tears of relief.'
"So I had my first abortion, and I remember crying immediately afterwards. The doctor and nurses in the room asked if I was OK, and I said, 'These are tears of relief. You have no idea, this is a massive relief.'
"That abortion gave me the time to meet the person I am spending the rest of my life with, and eventually have our daughter. When our daughter was 5, we wanted to give her a sibling. I was 37 at the time and experienced a number of losses before getting pregnant again. We told everyone — we were so excited — and then at 13 weeks the doctors found chromosomal abnormalities.
"So I had another abortion. And luckily, again, I was able to make that choice for myself, even though it was far more complicated. That abortion also allowed me to have our son, who is 20 months old.
"I often look at my children and feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude that I got to choose them both. And thank God I did. I really do feel grateful for that.
"I have been able to live my life in choice. And even when my kids make me feel crazy, I love them and I chose to have this life with them. I cannot imagine being forced to be a mother."
Michele Andrews, 37, mom of four
"I was 19 and in a fairly serious relationship when I got pregnant. I actually had no idea I was pregnant until I was at work and had a threatened miscarriage. I remember being at the doctor's office, scared, asking, 'What do you mean I'm pregnant?'
I definitely knew at that time, for the first time, that I wanted to be a parent, and very much knew it wasn't the right time.
"My doctor said, 'You're 19. I've been your physician since you were 14. You tell me what you want me to do, and I will be supportive.' I definitely knew at that time, for the first time, that I wanted to be a parent, and very much knew it wasn't the right time. It's weird how those things happen — suddenly, you're so clear on things.
"My doctor called around and in a couple days obtained some abortion pills. I had to go back into the office, and he was very supportive — he let me know what was going to happen, what to expect, then sent me home and was on call for me. I felt supported, not so much by my partner, but by my doctor and my mom and everyone else.
"I ended up staying with my then-partner, and we ended up having twin boys and my daughter later on. I still became a young mother at 22, but I was ready to be a mom.
"My abortion was a moment of great interpersonal honesty. Becoming a mother has always been something that excited me and was intriguing to me growing up. But at that moment, I knew there was just no way that I could be there for a person I brought into the world.
"My abortion also helped me realize, years later, that I eventually needed to get divorced. That when you're fulfilling your heart's desires, you have the most for others. It was a huge stepping stone to my liberation as a mother and realizing that none of these societal structures were going to tie me down. I didn't have to suffer to be a good mom. "