2023 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Use of Audio Storytelling finalist

Seven personal stories about abortion

About the Project

When something overwhelming happens,, the Washington Post Opinions section’s mailbox for op-ed submissions, is one of the places people go to tell their stories, sometimes stories no one has ever heard.

The weekend after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we got many times the usual number of submissions. It’s moving and heartening that people still turn to newspapers to raise their voices. But it’s also a paradox of the news business that the more times something happens, the less newsy it is. The sheer volume of personal stories we received about abortion seemed to shrink each individual story.

Rachel Manteuffel has rejected approximately 100 people per weekday for almost 13 years. The arithmetic demanded she let through only the pieces that really got her in the feelings, and as she read that weekend, she became harder and harder to get. She started writing the most compassionate rejection note she could send out to masses of people.

Amanda Shapiro wrote back almost immediately, saying she cried just knowing someone had read her story.

Now, you can.

Here are seven excerpts of readers’ stories in their own words and voices. They are, we warn you, devastating — especially if you turn the sound on. There are references to sexual assault and intimate medical details, and maybe you should take a moment to prepare yourself. But then listen. It’s important.