Every woman experiences an abortion in a different way, so we asked some women to share their stories. When they’ve requested it, we have changed their names.
Warning: some of the issues discussed in these stories may be upsetting.
I was 22 at the time, and in the UK. I had been seeing a guy for a couple of months, and we didn’t use condoms as sensibly as we should have done, and I stopped using hormonal birth control because the implant didn’t really work out for me.
There’s a strange feeling of having such a huge, potentially life-changing decision to make, but I pretty much knew straight away I didn’t want to keep it.
After taking a pregnancy test I made an appointment with a GP, who confirmed that I was pregnant, and then I had the option of paying for a private procedure, or waiting and going through the public system. I had to wait about six weeks, I think, and it was not an easy time.
The guy I was seeing at the time refused to come, because the abortion was scheduled the same day as one of his finals, so I can understand. He was from a good Catholic family so the guilt had him coming and going. A friend went with me to the clinic but couldn’t wait with me as he had work, so it was mostly a solo gig.
At the clinic, I had an ultrasound to check how things were. I didn’t want to see it. I’d spent a couple of months feeling like I had been invaded, so I had no desire to say hello.
Then there was some waiting around, then the operating theatre. I had general anaesthetic; I wanted to be completely out. As a rape survivor, the fewer memories I have of doctors poking around down there, the happier I’ll be.
“Would I have loved my child? Of course. Enough that the sacrifice would be worth it? Who knows?”
I remember coming round on a hospital bed in a big room with a few other women in it, and throwing up pretty hard. I felt very discombobulated, pretty sore. I was allowed to sit out the worst of coming out of the general, then they gave me a fact sheet on what to expect post-op, I put clothes on, and was back into the street.
I felt pretty elated immediately afterwards, that it was all over. There were a few emotional ups and downs, in addition to the blood clots. My partner and I hung on for another year or so, though we never talked about it.
At the time, I was a minimum-wage call centre minion. [If I’d hadn’t had the termination] I’d probably have moved back to my home town as a single mum, wouldn’t have immigrated to New Zealand. A couple of months after the abortion I was accepted into Teachers’ College, which wouldn’t have been possible with a baby. I now teach at high school.
There was no feeling of loss, just relief – it was never a “baby” or a “child” to me. I guess that there’s a popular idea that abortion has to be this absolutely horrendous, guilt-laden event that changes a person completely, leaves them emotionally shattered. But it’s just a procedure like any other. In a lot of cases it's a woman taking control of her life in a way that we’ve not been able to for most of history.
I absolutely, 100 per cent do not regret not being the mother of a seven-year-old. Would I have loved my child? Of course. But enough that the sacrifice would be worth it? Who knows?
(Cover image: Flickr user Jeffk)