Women's Stories

We have heard from American servicewomen stationed around the world about their difficulties obtaining abortion care:

We are defending a Constitution that doesn’t apply to us. This was a phrase I heard often after I joined the U.S. Army in 2005. At the time, I didn’t realize just how true that would be. I was raped by a fellow soldier when I was stationed in Korea. I found out I was pregnant as a result of the rape when my commander called me into his office one day to charge me with adultery. A doctor at the medical center had told my commander — but not me — that I was pregnant. I hadn't reported the rape because I was trying to "soldier on” and I didn’t trust my chain of command. This is an environment where women are constantly targeted for various forms of abuse. As it turns out I was not charged, not because I was raped, but because I was divorced. more -- Jessica Kenyon; Korea

I am in the military and got raped and became pregnant. I would like to just move on without military intervention. I am stationed in South Korea and abortion is illegal here, even for rape. I cannot go home on leave at this time. I don’t know what to do. What can I do? -- Anonymous; South Korea

I am a single female serving my country in Iraq. I was raped. No, I do not know my attacker. No, I did not file a report. No, I am not going to—they will call me a liar and I could lose my career. I worked so hard for this. I volunteered for this deployment, and I worked hard for my promotion. I deserve to continue my mission. And I missed my period today . . . I need my career and I want to serve. This has been my dream: to serve my country. And I never thought that I would have to worry about being raped. But it happened to me. Please, I am asking . . . can you help me? -- Anonymous; Iraq

I was raped while serving in the Army in Iraq. My rapist is in jail. I am engaged and will be married in two months. Thanks to your organization, I won’t have to start my new life raising a criminal’s child. -- Analise*

I will never forget the humiliation I felt . . . I was turned away by my American doctors on base who wanted to educate me on the issue but couldn’t do so legally . . . Although I serve in the military, I was given no translators, no explanations, no transportation and no help for a legal medical procedure . . . The military expects nothing but the best from its soldiers and I expect the best medical care in return. -- Jessica; Japan

I am a member of the armed forces currently serving in Afghanistan. I am here with my husband and was unaware that the pills I take to prevent malaria can counteract my birth control pills. My husband is as shocked as I am. We do not want a child now; we have a job to do here. Due to the military's no-abortion policy, I am pretty desperate. It isn’t like you can even go off base here, and you can’t just say you need medical leave without saying why. -- Anonymous; Afghanistan

I am in the U.S. Army in Iraq. If the Army finds out that I am pregnant they will kick me out, and I cannot afford for this to happen. The salary I earn supports my mother and my younger brother and sister. Please, please help me. I cannot go to the medical facilities here because I will get sent back to the States and face military punishment. -- Anonymous; Iraq

I am a 24-year-old active duty U.S. Marine sergeant with the II Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. I have more than six years of service. . .While stationed in Fallujah, I became pregnant. I have long been aware of the stigma surrounding this circumstance and knew my career would likely be over, though I have received exceptional performance reviews in the past. I knew I would have no medical privacy, and my record would be disclosed to my supervisors and coworkers. . .So basically, I was in a career-ending situation. I obtained information on the Internet about how to cause a miscarriage by taking high doses of over-the-counter herbs and supplements. After weeks with no success, I resorted to attempting to manually dislodge the fetus by inserting objects into my cervix. There were no coat hangers to be found in Iraq, but the idea was the same. more -- Amy*; Iraq

I am stationed in Kuwait and in a relationship with a serviceman here. I recently discovered I am pregnant and have explored my options. It is virtually impossible to obtain abortion care in Kuwait. I would have to prove that the abortion was necessary to preserve my mental/physical health; get approval from three Islamic doctors; and get the consent of the man involved, which I cannot do. In addition, it would be difficult for me to leave the base without having to report to a superior and explain why I needed to go off the base. I am scheduled to return to a base in Germany in two months, but don't want to wait that long; plus, I'm unsure if I could even obtain an abortion in Germany so much later in my pregnancy. I'm afraid that if anyone finds out that I am pregnant that my partner and I will be sent home and possibly taken to military court for having an illegal relationship or simply just being pregnant. -- Erin*; Kuwait

I am a U.S. servicewoman who became pregnant while stationed in Germany. I went to a German OB/GYN off-base for confirmation of the pregnancy. The doctor talked to me about the steps I'd have to take to obtain abortion care in Germany, which included a meeting with a social worker and an appointment at a doctor's office. I was able to get the necessary papers from a social worker and had the abortion in a doctor's office. However, I had complications after returning to base and had to go to the Emergency Room at the hospital on my base. I didn't know what anesthetic was used and other information that was important to evaluate my condition. It's like the doctors were caring for me blindly. I felt like the doctors who treated me were ill-served by not knowing the details of my procedure, and that my need to keep the procedure a secret put my health at risk. -- Michelle*; Germany

I had been married for one year when I became pregnant. My husband was in the Navy, and I was not on birth control because I didn't know how to navigate the medical system provided by the military. I was able to obtain a medical abortion from a private, non-military provider, but had to pay out-of-pocket for the procedure. -- Karla*; United States

Two days ago, I was on leave visiting my husband. We had sex the night before I left and the condom broke. I don't know what to do. There is no morning after pill option here unless I fill out a rape report, which I cannot do. Now, military justice will take over. I need to have options…well, aside from military prison. -- Anonymous; Iraq

*Names changed to protect patient privacy