Unexpectedly expecting

Introduction | Taé’s story | Katie’s story | Erin’s story | Vanessa’s story

Editor’s note: About 3 million women experience unexpected pregnancies in the United States each year, and most are between the ages of 15 and 24. At an age when life’s opportunities start to present themselves and a picture of the future is coming into view, these women are faced with a difficult choice they aren’t ready to make: abort the pregnancy or have a baby. Although most people approach abortion as a philosophical and moral issue, these women approach their decisions from the most intimate and life-changing perspective. These are the stories of four Kansas women, including two KU students, confronted with a pregnancy they weren’t prepared for and a choice they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Two asked that their real names not be used to protect their privacy.

Five months pregnant and Taé had never felt the baby kick until today, while waiting in a room at Planned Parenthood.

It kicks again. She smiles, places her hand on her slightly distended belly to feel where the kick came from. The baby kicks again. And again. And again.

She yells for a nurse.

“Something’s wrong. The baby. It’s going crazy.”

“Oh,” the nurse says from the door. “That’s probably the baby dying.”

The words crash over Taé, punching into her like the positive pregnancy test had five months ago.

Her baby was dying.

She hears the “Yes, yes, yes” she heard from family, friends, the baby’s father about getting an abortion. She remembers the “Never” she told herself.

Her baby is dying and it is her choice. Her choice to go to the clinic. Her choice to abort the pregnancy. Her choice.

She cries the tears she’s been holding back since she walked through the front doors with her dad two hours earlier. She cries for the decision she was backed into, the one she never thought she’d have to make.

She cries, alone.

Taé was alone in the waiting room, but she wasn’t alone in her decision. Every year in the United States, about 1 million of the 6 million pregnancies end in abortion. In 2008, physicians performed 10,642 abortions in Kansas – more than half to women ages 15 to 24, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Although nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, no two stories are the same.

Taé was conflicted about her decision to abort, but Katie did what she felt she had to do to keep an abusive ex-boyfriend from marring her entire life. Two years later, pregnant by another man at age 20, Katie had the baby but gave up her son for adoption.

Erin, at age 16, decided to keep a child conceived in rape.

Vanessa aborted five weeks into her unwanted pregnancy so she could provide a better childhood for her future children than she had.

These women all say they made the right decision for them at the time – a responsibility, they say, every woman must carry.

Scroll over the graphic to find out more about pregnancy in Kansas and the United States.
-Produced by Kayla Regan

Introduction | Taé’s story | Katie’s story | Erin’s story | Vanessa’s story

Edited by Sarah Kelly

  • Updated Dec. 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm
  • Tara Smith

    Pretty good story, but that map somehow manages to mix up Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

  • lovenhaight

    I can’t remember the last time I was actually riveted to a story in a college newspaper, but really…wow. Kudos to these women for sharing their stories, and to Ms. Van Dyke for being the kind of journalist that they felt comfortable sharing their stories with. Well done, UDK.

  • Dan

    kujayhawk: I almost lauged out loud when I read your comment. I’m still laughing. I gotta say that was good. I’m interested to see who takes the bait and starts going off the deep-end on you.

  • panache

    What a poignant story. Aly Van Dyke obviously spent a lot of time finding these young ladies, interviewing them and relating their experiences with honesty and compassion. Great reporting. I look forward to more from this reporter.

  • kansas979

    I am glad to see that the Kansan has published such a thought-provoking and deep article on a very important issue. The reporting was very good and really gave insight into what these women go through and the gravity of such a situation. It seems that, in every story, the woman knows, deep-down, that it is a human life they are carrying. It is so sad that society pressures them into killing that unborn life and makes abortion such an immediate option. These stories remind me of the dramatic need to change our culture into one in which women experience true freedom. True freedom is not the freedom to choose between good or evil, but rather the freedom to do good without the impulse toward evil. In the case of abortion, the culture of death promoted by organizations such as planned parenthood is forcing women to make a decision between good and evil (and as we see in this article, often times the evil action of killing a perfectly innocent child is chosen). I feel sadness and compassion toward the women who have chosen abortion and pray that they experience healing and mercy. Let this article be a reminder that we all need to help and support women so they can make the good choice- provide their child with the basic and fundamental right to life, upon which all other rights (such as the right to choose) lie.

  • sjschlag

    This was a very well written article. Good job Ms. Van Dyke. Way to tell the story of four very brave women. You deserve some sort of award.

    (I really wanted to rip on some of the other commenters on here, but I decided I’ve already ripped enough today.)

  • cakeandicecream

    Excellent work, Ms. Van Dyke. The most powerful article I’ve read in the Kansan in four years.