How This Latina’s Abortion Brought Her Closer to Her Mother

“I immediately knew I didn’t want to be pregnant,” says advocate, social worker, and storyteller Joana Calderon, with clarity and bass in her voice

abortion mother daughter

Image Credit: Joana Calderon

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Joana is among the 25% of patients of Hispanic heritage and 24% Catholics who have had an abortion. While millions of people have had safe, legal abortions many still deal with the stigma that comes along with the very common medical decision.

A deep culture of shame and silence that targets abortion causes stigma — a normal and essential part of sexual and reproductive health care. The stigma, as well as the misinformation and propaganda that comes with it, means not everyone feels comfortable about their decision to get the care they need — or to share their experiences. One way to change the narrative is by talking with friends and loved ones.

Joana Calderon

Image Credit: Joana Calderon

One misconception about abortion is that it is a threat to traditional family structure and values.The testimony of this native Texan debunks that.

This is her story.

Where We’ve Been…

In 2017, Joana was 20 years old, attending the local community college in Fort Worth, when she learned she was pregnant. Born to Mexican parents who migrated to the U.S. to build a better life for their children, Joana grew up in a traditional Catholic household, where talking about sex, abortion, or birth control was taboo. Joana describes her mother, Rosa, as the typical señora: a religious woman and not one to shake the table. “So when I decided to get an abortion, I was really scared to tell her,” Joana recalls.

At the time, Joana had been working part-time as a bank teller and was only making $400 every two weeks.

Joana chose not to tell her coworkers who were very religious, or her employer. “I think it would have made the experience a lot easier if I was able to tell my boss, ‘Hey, I’m pregnant but I’m looking to get an abortion’ […] or ‘I need this day off to have this procedure’ as opposed to me having to go during my lunch break and having to call in and pretend I’m sick.” Calderon says her ex-co-workers are supportive of her experience and advocacy now, but at the time she was worried about any potential backlash in the workplace because of the stigma around abortion.

Joana found the Planned Parenthood health center in the community was committed to patient well-being and safety. She knew that so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which often have no trained medical providers on the premises — despite lab coat-wearing staff and buildings designed to look like real clinics — used deceitful and immoral practices to prey on vulnerable pregnant people. “Some of them hide under the guise that they’re here to help you,” Joana explains.

Joana was able to confide in the Planned Parenthood’s nurse’s assistant about her bouts with depression which had led to self-harm. “At that time, it was just a really amazing and compassionate thing she could do for me.” Because of the high-quality and supportive care she received at Planned Parenthood, Joana felt safe, further affirming her decision to have an abortion there.

Where We Are…

After her second ultrasound, Joana received a referral for a medication abortion, a two-pill process for people who are less than ten weeks pregnant. Like Joana, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans who need an abortion have low incomes and usually cannot afford one. The Planned Parenthood staff continued its support and referred Joana to the TEA fund, or the Texas Equal Access Fund, which offers financial aid for people who need abortion care in Texas.

Joana shared her abortion experience with some close friends and her partner at the time, but never thought of telling her parents due to fear of judgment. But she knew she was going to need aftercare and that she could not hide her recovery from Rosa. Joana was terrified, to say the least. But to Joana’s surprise, Rosa actually accepted the news. “OK,” she said to her daughter. There was not much more to say. ”I was really grateful I was able to talk to my mom about what was going on,” Joana says.

mom daughter abortion

Image Credit: Joana Calderon

Despite Rosa’s feelings and religious upbringing, she put ideology aside to care for her child. All that mattered at that moment was love for her daughter.

After the abortion, Planned Parenthood discussed birth control with Joana — and provided the Nexplanon implant, which has a life span of 3-5 years. The stress and worry of her pregnancy was lifted, but the work was not done.

…And Where We’re Going

Joana Calderon is a very different person now than she was in 2017. She earned her master’s license in social work, works in patient care in Texas, and has spent years speaking out and sharing her story. She even appeared on a panel alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and other abortion advocates to discuss Texas’ S.B. 8 abortion ban, to normalize the conversation around abortion and fight for expanded access to care.

prochoice planned parenthood

Image Credit: Joana Calderon

“A lot of times people who are forced to be silent, they do it for their own self-preservation,” Joana says. “So I’ll tell my story louder so you can hear or you can know that I support you from afar, even if you can’t say anything.”

Her mother Rosa now has a new view on abortion. She participates in marches and rallies, advocating for safe and accessible abortion. “We shouldn’t judge others, especially if we don’t know what they’re going through,” she says.

Joana volunteers her time at Planned Parenthood to show her gratitude for the health care she was able to receive, without judgment, during a very trying time, and even received an award from the organization for her powerful storytelling. Joana hopes to continue to create an open conversation in Latinx communities about birth control and abortion access, and most importantly to address misconceptions.

Joana Calderon planned parenthood

Image Credit: Joana Calderon

Joana believes that every single person deserves the same amazing care she received, and to make their own decision to have an abortion as freely as she did, with the support of loved ones, like Rosa gave her.

Some may call Joana brave for sharing her story, but Joana is not alone. She is one of the millions of people who have had an abortion and talk about their experiences, taking action to normalize abortion and take politicians out of the narrative. Abortion is simply a life-affirming and lifesaving medical procedure.

To learn more about abortion stigma, visit

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