Without Roe v. Wade, their abortions wouldn't have been possible. Women and other people of color share their stories.

Renee Bracey Sherman looked down at her credit card with the emblazoned rose design. It was for emergencies only.

The abortion cost $350. The anesthesia would be an extra $100. The card had a $500 limit.

Bracey Sherman did the math. She was a 19-year-old biracial Black woman. Her part-time job working at Victoria's Secret in Chicago making $7 and change an hour barely covered her gas, groceries and the $120 copay for her birth control. She didn't have the money to get the pills for one cycle, her emotionally abusive boyfriend had refused to wear a condom and now she was pregnant.

"I remember kind of standing there and thinking, 'OK, how many hours do I have to work to be able to afford the sedation,'" said Bracey Sherman. 

She took a deep breath and handed the card over. 

Bracey Sherman is one of many people of color whose lives could be forever altered by the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on whether to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. People of color have abortions at the highest rates in the nation and if abortion rights are severely restricted or banned, these Americans will likely have the hardest time finding ways to get rid of unwanted pregnancies or to raise children they cannot afford or didn't want.

Studies show 1 in 4 American women will have an abortion by age 45. Women and people of color account for 58% of all abortion patients but only about 20% of the U.S. population. 

Many people of color already have a difficult time finding a provider for an abortion and paying for the procedure because of issues of systemic racism and discrimination. Women and people of color are less likely to have access to quality health care and contraceptives. They're also much more likely to live in neighborhoods where jobs and education opportunities are scarce.

Some people of color who have had abortions said they were supported by friends and family. Others had to do it all alone. Some used credit cards or had to travel across state lines to find a provider.

One thing is true for all of them: Having an abortion changed the course of their lives.

Renee Bracey Sherman, of We Testify, speaks to supporters organized by the Center for Reproductive Rights during a rally at the U.S. Supreme Court during the hearing of oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.

Forced into abortion at an out-of-state clinic

"We're very sorry this is happening to you" was the last thing Valerie Peterson heard before going into tunnel vision. She was 16 weeks pregnant and had just learned her baby wasn't going to make it.

The boy, whom she had already named Ethan, had a fetal anomaly that would likely cause her to miscarry. If she was able to carry him to term, he would likely be stillborn. 

What's more, like many Black women, who are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, Peterson could have died if she didn't end the child's life. She was considered high risk because of her age, obesity and high blood pressure.

She was grief-stricken – she had already seen her baby boy's face in the ultrasound. Ethan would have been her third child and her first son. She was excited to have a new baby in the house. Her two older daughters had gone off to college and he was going to fill the nest.

"After I learned that I was going to have to do an abortion and lose a baby, I wanted to jump off a bridge. It's really something that's very difficult to hear and also difficult to deal with," said Peterson, now 43. 

Valerie Peterson, 43, traveled across state lines to Florida to have her abortion after doctors informed her that her baby had a fetal anomaly. At the time, Texas law banned abortions after 20 weeks and required abortion clinics to meet hospital standards.

It was 2015, and Peterson lived in Texas, home to some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country. Two years prior, then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, signed a bill into law that banned abortions after 20 weeks and required abortion clinics to meet hospital standards. The measure, which was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016, shrank the number of abortion clinics in Texas from 40 to 19.

There was also a four-day waiting period. And that was if staff could get Peterson in quickly; the new law had created a bottleneck at the remaining clinics in the state. There weren't any guarantees: They could call her back to come in next week or even next month.

"The fact that I couldn't get the health care that I needed was psychological torture," said Peterson. "It made me so angry. Why does the government always want to legislate my body?"

Peterson couldn't wait that long. She couldn't do that to Ethan; she couldn't do that to herself. She called a friend and together they booked a flight the next day to Orlando, the closest place she could get an abortion without having to wait at the time. Her health insurance would only cover the abortion if she miscarried. So, she maxed out two credit cards: $2,000 for the procedure and the other $3,000 to pay for plane tickets, hotel and a rental car. 

"I was fortunate I had credit cards," she said.

Peterson knew many other Black women in the United States wouldn't have the financial resources to make the same decisions. About 54% of Black Americans report having no credit or a poor to fair credit score.

"I remember thinking, 'What happens to women in my situation who end wanted pregnancies?'" she said.

Losing Ethan was one of the hardest things Peterson has ever had to do. But what made it so excruciating was having to worry about navigating restrictions instead of solely being focused on saying goodbye to her baby.

She never wants another pregnant person to face what she faced. 

"I tell people, yep, I had an abortion. Here's why. Here's what happened. And here's what should never happen again, to any person in this position," said Peterson.

Rae Johnson learned they were pregnant six months after they had their son. They chose to terminate the pregnancy. Like Johnson, six out of 10 people who have abortions are already parents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many people who have an abortion are parents

Rae Johnson's son was born two weeks before winter break during their senior year in college when they were 24 years old. Professors let Johnson complete their final exams while they were recovering from an emergency C-section and learning how to breastfeed. 

Six months later, Johnson learned they were pregnant again, right as they were getting ready to walk across the graduation stage. They couldn't imagine having to trudge through snow with two baby carriers let alone get a job that would pay for day care tuition for two infants.

It was 2010, and the country was slowly crawling out of the Great Recession. Jobs for college graduates were scarce and many millennials had been forced to move back in with their parents. Johnson knew as a young Black parent, they would likely have an even harder time finding a job compared with many of her peers. Being the parent of two children would make any challenges even more difficult, they thought. 

"Having another child was not in the cards at all. I chose the best decision at the time for me was to have an abortion," said 36-year-old Johnson.

Like Johnson, 6 out of 10 people who have abortions are already parents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Being a parent takes hard work, resources and energy, especially when it comes to parenting multiple children. For Black families like Johnson's, it's even harder: The average white household has seven times the wealth of the average Black household. 

Johnson, who now is a working writer, said they didn't have much money when they became pregnant the second time. Four months after the abortion, they become separated from their partner. Their son's father moved to another state.

Overnight, they became a single-parent household. 

"If I would have kept that other baby, my life would not be where it is today. It would have been extraordinarily difficult for me to support two kids under 2," Johnson said.

The national debate over abortion rights should be centered not on abortion but what it takes to raise a child outside of the womb, Johnson said.

In the end, their decision came down to doing what was best for their child.

"I did it for my son," said Johnson. "It provided me an opportunity to slow down in my life and build wealth and savings that I hope will impact my son in the future."

Melissa Madera had an abortion when she was 17. This experience would lay the foundation for her to found her podcast "My Abortion Diary."

Teen pregnancy is a driver of poverty

Melissa Madera felt the thick maxi pad in between her thighs. She was barely awake when nausea hit.

She threw up into a plastic kidney-shaped basin. This was the first memory after waking up from her abortion procedure. 

She was 17, and it was the summer after high school. The whole thing happened very quickly: Her aunt took her to a doctor's office in a New York City apartment, she peed on a stick and came back for the procedure the next day. 

When the 42-year-old researcher who hosts her own podcast, The Abortion Diaryreflects on her experience, she can't help but compare it to her mother's. Black and Latina girls are more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant before they leave adolescence. Pregnancy is often a cause and consequence of poverty.

"My mother got pregnant at 17 and had me. I got pregnant at 17 and had an abortion. I've had a very different life as a result," Madera said.

Madera's mother raised three children. She struggled, taking 12 years to complete her college education. This was something her mother didn't want her daughter to go through. She wanted her to travel. To go to graduate school. To be free. 

"One of the things she said to me when she did talk to me about my abortion was that she just didn't want me to have the same life as her."

Jas Margarita Tobon, 24, was going to school in New York when she became pregnant. She was able to have state Medicaid cover the cost of her procedure, something that many could lose if the High Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

A woman's right to choose

When Jas Margarita Tobon learned she was pregnant in 2019, she thought long about what she wanted for her future.

"I did it for a few different reasons. But ultimately, it's because I wanted one," said Tobon, 24. 

She talked it over with her partner and called Planned Parenthood. 

Tobon was fortunate that she was going to school in New York at the time, where state Medicaid covers the cost of an abortion.

Had she been back home in Nevada, things would have played out differently.

Tobon comes from a low-income Mexican American family. As the first person to go to college, she already felt the pressure to finish school and find a job while being away from her family without any financial support. 

"I don't think I would have been able to get one. I didn't have the disposable income," said Tobon. "I was barely putting myself through school, and I had student loans." 

As a Catholic, it was also something difficult to talk about with conservative members of her family. 

"There's often a misconception that people of faith can't have an abortion," Tobon said. "Ultimately, my decision was between me, my doctor and God." 

Guerdy Rémy, 51, speaks at a pro-choice rally. It took her 30 years to speak about her abortion experience.

Women of color are shamed for their abortions

Guerdy Rémy raised her hand. She was ready to share her biggest secret: She had an abortion at age 17 when she was 20 weeks pregnant. 

Sitting around the oval table at the community center in Florida, the 51-year-old nurse felt the warmth emanating from people's faces around the room. It had taken three decades for her to feel safe enough to speak up. 

Rémy was shaking all over. Her friend held her hand.

"Bear with me," Rémy said in tears as she began recounting her traumatic experience. 

She had lost her virginity to an older man in high school. She had an irregular period and didn't know that she was pregnant. She phoned the man who impregnated her for help and he called her a slut before hanging up. Her aunt ended up driving her to the doctor and paying for the procedure. Because she was so far along, it had to be done at a hospital. She was placed in a maternity ward. When other patients learned she was having an abortion, they complained outside of her room for 12 hours. They called her a baby killer. One nurse told her if she waited a bit more she could have had a baby. 

"I never felt like a good person. I felt like a sinner," said Rémy. "It took a lot of growing to get rid of what I felt with having this abortion. I felt like a baby killer for a long time."

For Rémy, the experience was compounded by the fact she was part of a big Haitian immigrant family where women were supposed to wait to have sex until marriage and never have abortions.

And yet, women in her family had secret self-induced abortions. Rémy's own mother had jumped down the stairs because she didn't want to keep a pregnancy. The baby girl survived but was born with some mental issues due to blood loss.

In her fieldwork as a nurse, Rémy, who now is a mother of three, said she has seen the effects of abortion restrictions on Black and brown women from the frontlines in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

"We don't have trust in the government health care system that is going to help us medically," said Rémy. "So many Black women are going through the same thing and having to deal with trying to have an abortion at home."

People shouldn't have to go through the shaming she experienced while laying on the hospital bed, Rémy said.

Rather, she wants people to feel the support she did once she was able to talk about her abortion more freely. 

"It was the first time I was loved for my abortion," Rémy said. "We have to love on people who are going through that process."

Abortions rights are crucial for people of color

When Bracey Sherman awoke from the abortion procedure, a Jewish orthodox nurse was holding her left hand. Bracey Sherman was still groggy but the ceiling caught her eye. There were ripped magazine pages with photos of butterflies pinned to the corkboard. Some were blue monarchs. Yellow ones, too. 

"Whenever I see a butterfly, I think about my abortion, and it feels really symbolic because it was a moment of transformation for me," said Bracey Sherman. 

Decades later, the image has stuck with Bracey Sherman, who is now 36. She even has a 3D sticker of a tiger butterfly on her computer monitor where she works. 

"All of the things that I dreamed, and also dreams I didn't even yet have a chance to dream, would not have happened without an abortion," she said. "I didn't want to cope. I wanted to be alive."

Bracey Sherman now understands that poverty and racial discrimination play a big role in birth rates for women and people of color.

These economic challenges led Bracey Sherman to debate whether she could afford her abortion and the birth control needed to help her prevent another unwanted pregnancy.

And yet she counted herself one of the lucky ones. She had been able to choose.