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NEW YORK CITY – Two mothers – one pro-choice, one pro-life – shared how they became advocates in the abortion debate.
Melissa Manion, a mother of four, grew up opposing abortion and doesn’t believe it’s ever the answer. She said she still feels emotional pain after having an abortion in her early 20s.
Nadia Hussain, a seven-month pregnant mother of two, grew up with immigrant parents fighting to stay out of poverty. She became pro-choice in all instances after exhaustively researching abortion issues.
The Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on Friday, which stripped abortion as a constitutional right and gave each state the authority to decide their abortion laws. The ruling has sparked nationwide demonstrations and sometimes counterprotests.
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A pain that doesn’t go away
Manion, of Connecticut, said she grew up with the mantra “it’s a child, not a choice.”
“I had always felt abortion was wrong,” Manion told Fox News.
So when she became unexpectedly pregnant when she was 19, Manion knew she had to have the baby.
“Despite being what likely would’ve been the poster child for abortion, I chose life for my now son who is 26 years old,” Manion said. “It definitely was one of the greatest decisions of my life.”
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“It’s a life, and I had no right to just choose to end it,” Manion added. “I’ve shown that a teenager can have a child and do well.”
But at 23, Manion was again unexpectedly pregnant. She said the father was initially supportive, but they soon began arguing. Manion visited a friend who’d had an abortion.
“The conversation shifted and abortion was brought up as an option,” she told Fox News. She said that in “literally a moment,” she decided to have an abortion.
“It was like 48 hours later that I was driving to Boston and having an abortion,” Manion said.
“Aside from the things that went on that day that haunted me literally for years, my struggle and why I feel the way that I feel is it’s not as simple as a choice,” she continued. “It doesn’t just go away. The child does, but the pain doesn’t.”
Manion said her fight in the political battle over abortion is to “keep women from suffering unnecessarily.”
“To me, abortion is unfortunately framed as the easy way out,” Manion told Fox News.
“I believe we can do better than abortion for women,” she continued. “We can empower them in ways that are life-giving and not life-taking.”
‘It just goes down this rabbit hole’
Hussain, unlike Manion, said she grew up unsure how to feel about abortion since it wasn’t discussed much in her home. Being from a small Pennsylvania town, Hussain said she didn’t have much access to life experiences and began independently trying to learn about the world.
“I started actually looking at a lot of the facts,” Hussain, who now lives in New Jersey, told Fox News. “I wanted to know ‘what does the data say?'”
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Banning abortion “doesn’t end abortion,” she added. “It just ends access to safe abortion and choices and resources.”
Hussain also tied abortion bans to the maternal mortality rate.
“The states that are having the harshest abortion bans have the worst maternal health outcomes,” she said.
The U.S. has the highest mortality rate among wealthy nations, according to UNICEF. States with the strictest abortion laws have the highest rates, Tulane University researchers found in 2021.
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“Those are not women being supported,” Hussain told Fox News. “Regardless of where people may fall on a political range or an opinion range, in the end there’s not enough support for moms.”
She pointed to a lack of affordable childcare and paid leave for when kids get sick.
“I’m all for what’s going to support women and what’s going to reduce abortion rates in the country,” Hussain said. “And that is actually having the legal right to abortion.”
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Abortion rates steadily declined over a 30-year period, but increased in 2020, with one in five pregnancies being terminated, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
“The abortion ban comes first, then the contraceptives ban,” Hussaid said. “Then you’re not allowed access to plan B.”
“It just goes down this rabbit hole,” she continued. “Then there’s almost no choices for even a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth that a woman may want.”