Why I Supported My Friend Through Her Abortion

And how I feel about my decision thirty years later

Christy Heitger-Ewing
The Salve
Published in
7 min readNov 4, 2019


Photo: ImageSource/Getty Images

I was sitting in the high school library, completely engrossed in my biology textbook, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I glanced up and saw my friend Karen* wearing a pained expression. It was a mixture of shock, horror, and pure panic. She gripped my shoulder as if she was trying to steady herself.

“Karen, what is it?” I asked in a whisper. She had just celebrated her Sweet 16 so I thought she’d be on top of the world.

She sunk down in the seat beside me.

“Christy, I’m freaking out,” Karen said, her voice trembling. She shook her head. “This can’t be happening. It just can’t.”

I had never seen Karen so rattled. She was always such a chill girl — the epitome of the goofy friend who lived to put a smile on everyone else’s face.

I reached for her hand and squeezed it.

“It’s okay. Just tell me what’s going on,” I said.

“I’m… pregnant,” she said softly.

My eyes grew wide. As far as I’d known, she wasn’t sexually active.

“What? How? When?” I asked all in one breath.

“Rob — the new manager at work… The other night he and I were closing up. We started kissing and… ”

Her voice trailed off as she fixated her eyes on the red and green checkered floor.

“I mean, I was curious,” she continued, her chin quivering. I could tell she was using all her might to hold herself together.

“I don’t know,” she continued. “It all happened so fast and I immediately regretted it. Especially now. I mean, look what happened.”

Tears began rolling down her face, and my gut clenched in sympathy. I couldn’t fathom the confusion she was sorting through.

I wrapped my arms around her, then went into counselor mode, encouraging her to confide in her parents, a teacher, a minister or a therapist. But she vehemently opposed every suggestion I made, claiming her parents would disown her for doing something so stupid and that no teacher in our school was trustworthy enough to keep the news to herself. She didn’t go to…



Christy Heitger-Ewing
The Salve

Christy is an award-winning writer who has written more than 1,000 human interest stories for national, regional, & local magazines.