By Julie Mazziotta
May 24, 2019

When people started sharing the stories of their abortions on social media following the restrictive laws passed in Alabama and Georgia, Tess Holliday felt conflicted. She grew up in Alabama and Mississippi, where lawmakers also passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but her story felt like such a personal thing to share.

“I thought, ‘I feel like it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I don’t talk about it,’ because I’m from there and I’ve gone through all of this,” Holliday, 33, tells PEOPLE. “I share so much with my followers, I always have, but I don’t share everything and if I’m honest, it felt like no one’s business and it’s not.

The model and mom of two thought about it “for a few days” and talked to her husband and close friends before deciding to share her story on Twitter and Instagram.

“We really shouldn’t have to be sharing these stories, but I just thought, ‘I have to be honest with everyone and let them know what I went through,’ ” she says.

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Holliday wrote that she decided to get an abortion when she was dealing with severe postpartum depression following the birth of her second child, son Bowie, 3.

“I had postpartum depression and then severe delayed postpartum and that’s what I was dealing with,” she says. “When I found out that I was pregnant again, I thought there’s no way I could do this. I was already, for the first time, experiencing suicidal thoughts. I literally didn’t want to go through any day at all. So, the thought of having to do it, to go through all of that again, destroyed me.”

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Holliday says that “making the decision [to get an abortion] was awful, and going through it was awful,” but it was something that she and her husband, Nick, agreed was necessary for her health.

“He said he saw a side of me that he had never seen before,” she says. “And that’s accurate. I felt like a completely different person. I was just bitterly out of my mind and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”

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Holliday wishes she didn’t have to share her story, but she wanted to speak out against the laws that are effectively banning abortion, and in recognition of everyone — women, queer women, transgender men and non-binary people — who get abortions. She also wants to push for better sex education in these states, rather than ineffective abstinence-only teaching.

“In my home state of Mississippi, we had the one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, the highest rates of school dropout, and it kind of blows my mind that all of that can be happening, but yet we don’t get taught sex ed in school,” she says. “I feel like we’re shaming people for needing to get an abortion, but then you’re not actually educating them beforehand.”

“We need more education and we need to talk about all of this more.”

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