Rachel, Photographed by Kat Bawden

I felt a lot of guilt like I was weak for not being able to carry a pregnancy to term.”

Rachel used the phrase “living in the shadows” to describe her life after terminating her pregnancies. She knew she had made the right decisions for her health, yet she still felt ashamed, which in turn led her to hide her experience and isolate herself from others.

The only abortion clinic in the state of West Virginia is where Rachel had her second abortion performed.

“The escorts were fantastic when I got my abortions. I want to stand and show to the world that abortion is an everyday thing that should be a stigma free decision.”

Due to her health conditions, Rachel was unable to carry her pregnancies to term without risking her life. Her abortions saved her life, and Rachel is determined to use her time in service of others. Among her other service work, Rachel volunteers with her local humane society, where she helps find homes for animals in kill shelters.

“I have felt in the past like an outcast in my own home state for having an abortion. I will no longer apologize or seclude myself for saving my own life and future that I share with my little family.” – Rachel

Rachel was photographed as part of the 1 in 3 Photography Project. See more photos and stories from the project.

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(Click to enlarge photos)

Kat Bawden is a photographer and teaching artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her portraits and long-form photographic essays explore marginalized communities and document human’s relationship to place. Her photography, writing, and multimedia pieces have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and Scalawag Magazine, among others. She has collaborated with numerous nonprofit and commercial clients to tell their stories through engaging visual media.As a teaching artist, Kat leads community-based participatory photography workshops with marginalized communities, creating photographic essays that educate the public and policymakers. Previously, Kat worked as a community organizer and health educator in West Virginia and North Carolina, and she holds a master’s degree in public health.