I Cannot Remain Silent: My Abortion Story

by Nancy Zwiers | 30 Jun 2022

The Bloom Report

I Cannot Remain Silent: My Abortion Story

By Nancy Zwiers


Note: I originally published this article on LinkedIn in December 2021, when it became clear that abortion rights were under threat from a 6-3 activist Supreme Court.  Iim heartbroken and angry over the Supreme Court’s forced-birth ruling, I am publishing my story again to give it a wider audience in my beloved industry.

I am a passionate supporter of women in the workplace and this ruling is devastating for women’s equality.  I will not remain silent. 


I have been a life-long supporter of abortion rights for many moral and intellectual reasons.  In addition, I have a personal reason--one that only my closest friends and family members have known…until now.


It is estimated that 35% of women of reproductive age today will have an abortion by age 45 years.*  With abortion rights under attack by many states and Roe v. Wade now threatened by the current 6-3 Supreme Court, now is the time for me to go public with my story, in the hopes of encouraging more women to come forward with their stories (if they are called to do so) in a collective effort to reduce the stigma of abortion.


I imagine many of us wonder, as I do, what our lives would have been like if abortion weren’t legal in our reproductive years.  In telling my story, I want to try and help protect our daughters, granddaughters, and all women of reproductive age from the dangers, hardships, and thwarted dreams in a world where abortion is not legal. 


I had just turned 19-years old and was a sophomore at University of Illinois.  That Christmas break, I went home to spend the holidays with my family in the Chicago suburbs.  I was feeling unusually tired and decided to go to the doctor to find out what was wrong.  The doctor asked if she could perform a pregnancy test, and I said with doubt, “Ok, but I know I’m not pregnant.”  I was in a serious relationship with a fellow student named Rob and was taking the Pill, a reliable form of birth control (though occasionally I missed a dose or two).


The next day, the doctor called me and told me the news:  I was pregnant.  As I hung up the phone, in a moment of sheer panic I called out to my mom in the other room: “Mom, I’m pregnant!” I thank God to this day, that my mom was supportive in that moment of extreme panic—how many young women cannot count on that powerful source of emotional and practical support.  Imagine going it alone.


We immediately kicked into action.  The details are fuzzy, but we found an abortion clinic in Chicago, made an appointment, and Rob took me there within the week of my diagnosis. 


The procedure was quick, painless, and unmemorable.  I only remember feeling relief and gratitude when it was over.  At the time, I was a straight-A student, going for my business degree, and I had big dreams of an exciting and fulfilling career.  An unintended pregnancy could derail my dreams.


I have wondered what my life would have been like if I had been forced to carry the pregnancy to term against my wishes:

  • Would I have stayed in college?
  • Would I have married Rob?
  • Would I have retained my youthful optimism, self-confidence, and go-getter spirit?
  • Would I have been recruited into P&G’s prestigious brand management program as a senior, and had access to the powerful training that fueled my 40-year career?
  • Would I have had my impactful career in brand-building that was rewarding in so many ways, and on so many levels?
  • Would I have been able to help so many people, especially women, in my career through mentoring, training, and coaching?
  • Would I have been able to start the Nancy Zwiers Empowerment Fund, dedicated to supporting women and children, and which I have funded with $600,000 to date? Inspired by gratitude for the rich life I was able to lead, I am thankful for my career in toys and my ability to get an abortion at 19.  Not surprisingly, the three organizations to which I have donated the most--thousands of dollars annually over the past 8 years-- are Women in Toys, Planned Parenthood and ACLU. 
  • Would I have had Nikki, my much-wanted daughter, in 1995 at age 36, whom I love and cherish more than anything?


To this day, I have never felt guilt about my decision to get an abortion at age 19.  I only feel gratitude that my right to bodily autonomy was the law of the land when it mattered most to me.  I was free to pursue the life of my dreams; pursue parenthood when I was ready and well-equipped to meet its demands; and make a positive impact on the world with my gifts to give.


For facts about abortions (and myths dispelled), read this 2-page document:


*Alan Guttmacher Institute. State Facts About Abortion. 2003. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/sfaa.html



#womens rights #human rights #womens equality

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