A TALE OF TWO ABORTIONS

HEALTH, MOTHER OF ALL LISTS, MUST READ

The author of today’s piece wishes to remain anonymous (she explains why in the opening line), but as I said to her over email, what’s remarkable about her writing is that highlights how ‘common-place yet let life-altering’ abortions are. 

  • The fact that I feel the need to make this anonymous is probably part of the reason I’m writing it. I wish I could proudly put my name next to this piece of writing but I’m afraid I’m not brave enough because this is still a hugely divisive subject. 

  • I firmly believe that a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body is a basic human right, so I felt compelled to write this list because of what is happening in Poland at the moment. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

  • I’m possibly preaching to the choir by writing it for Mother of All Lists, but I want to put it out there as a first-hand account of pregnancy termination, to bring more positive stories of this kind into view.

  • I have had two abortions. They were both very different situations and I don’t regret either of them.

  • My story is not unusual. 1 in 3 in the UK and 95% of them don’t regret it.* But we don’t talk about it openly enough.

  • I wanted to tell the story of these two experiences is that although they are very different situations, they are both normal and both perfectly reasonable reasons to have an abortion. 

  • My family still have no idea that any of this happened. It’s not something I can talk to them about. But I hope that I can have a better relationship with my children so that if they ever find themselves in a similar situation, I can be there for them.

  • My first pregnancy was the biggest mistake of my life. And in turn, the abortion was the greatest relief of my life. It was the wrong time and definitely the wrong man.

  • The second was harder, the father was the man who is now my husband and we now have two children together.

  • The first one happened when I was 22.

  • I met him on a dance floor in a club. I blame Justin Timberlake for us getting together that night. I still can’t listen to Senorita without having a quiet shudder.

  • It was a one night stand that merged into a fling. We had very little in common other than being young and single and living in Sydney.

  • As I got to know him, I learned that he wasn’t an electrician as he had said the night of Justin Timberlake, he was in fact an international drug mule.  

  • I was a recent uni graduate with first class honours and a new exciting job. He was without a doubt, the worst thing for my future.

  • He would fly to LA and return with cocaine inside his body in pellets that he had swallowed. He would then shit it out, cut the coke with other substances and sell it to pay back the various people involved. There was no big guy behind a huge desk to hand the package to in exchange for a wad of cash. He had to move it all himself at street level. 

  • At first this was kind of thrilling. I had no interest in ever becoming involved, but being privy to the process felt like I had stumbled into a movie, so I saw him a few more times with no expectations to turn it into a proper relationship.

  • He had been to prison for ‘getting in a fight’. I never got to the bottom of what that actually meant. The fact that he had done time wasn’t a deal breaker for me, he was funny and charming, but after spending more time together it soon transpired that he was actually a pretty violent guy.

  • He started fights in bars, and I saw him smack and kick his dog enough times to tell me this guy was not someone I wanted in my life.

  • Then I found out I was pregnant with his kid.

  • There was no doubt in my mind that this was a mistake. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in some way connected to this guy. I had to get out of this situation. 

  • I told him in the same breath that I was pregnant and I was going to have an abortion. He looked both shocked and relieved and then said “Not again’… this wasn’t his first rodeo. 

  • I told him he’d have to pay half. It cost hundreds of dollars. 

  • I felt lost. I had always wished my positive pregnancy test moment would be a happy one and this had ruined it. 

  • I wished I could tell my parents, but they just weren’t the kind of parents you can tell something like this to. I told a couple of close friends. They were lovely and supportive, but I felt like the news was also met with a sort of scandalous excitement for them which made me feel like an idiot.

  • At that time abortion in Australia was illegal, but it was the sort of law that was conveniently ignored. You could have a safe abortion at a private family planning clinic if you had several hundred dollars and enough guts to walk past the protesters with foetus placards out the front.

  • The law to make abortion legal in New South Wales was only overturned in 2019.

  • I went to the clinic with a friend. It was stressful and rushed, she had to be at work shortly, so the plan was for her to drop me off then for him to come and pick me up afterwards (and pay half the bill).

  • He never showed.

  • I woke up from general anaesthetic alone. Surprisingly my flatmate was sitting in the waiting room. The friend who dropped me off had a feeling he wasn’t going to show up so she called my flatmate. Women are amazing like that. She new intuitively to call in emergency help so I wouldn’t be alone.

  • I never saw him again. And except for a late night drunken call months later, I never spoke to him again.

  • I have obviously stalked him on Facebook. He’s fine, didn’t end up in prison.

  • But I am eternally grateful that I could walk away from a violent man and not have to raise our unwanted child.

  • The second abortion was different.

  • I was older, I was with the man who is now my husband and I knew we would one day like to have kids.

  • We had been together for a couple of years and in total contrast to the other guy, I knew he was the one for me. He was my future.

  • I did a pregnancy test after work one day in the loos at Liverpool Street station. I had that holy trinity of feelings for a couple of days, kind of nauseous, kind of hungry, really tired. I instantly recognised the feeling and had to know. 

  • This time I was far away from my close friends. One of them was pregnant at the time. We were now at an age where getting pregnant was met with squeals of delight, not salacious gossip. 

  • I told my partner. He froze, not knowing if it was a time to be happy. I felt like it wasn’t.

  • We had just moved to a new country. I had just started a new promising job and my career was my main focus. I had been told I had ‘talent’ which is actually a terrible thing to tell someone. I felt like I owed it to myself, and everyone who had ever told me I had talent to stick to my career and not derail the whole thing I had been working hard on for years.

  • The decision wasn’t clear cut.

  • I thought about it and weighed up all the options. My partner told me he wasn’t ready to be a dad, but if it’s what I wanted, he would try to figure it out. We could move back to Australia. My pregnant friend and I would be the first mums in our group of friends. It would be reasonably ok.

  • But was it what I wanted?

  • In the end it wasn’t being ‘talented’ that made the decision for me. I just didn’t want the responsibility. I wasn’t ready to give a huge part of my life to a baby. I had a clear view in my head of where I wanted to get to in life before I had kids and I wasn’t there yet. I still had more travelling, partying and living irresponsibly to do before I could happily become a parent.

  • Basically, I didn’t want to resent my kid because they ruined my chance to have some more adventures.

  • It’s a selfish reason. Anti-abortionists will say is’t not a good enough reason to terminate a pregnancy but they are wrong. I was not ready to be a good parent, it may have been a selfish reason, but it’s a good enough reason not to bring a human into the world.

  • Yes I should have been more careful but just because I’m shit at remembering to take pills shouldn’t mean that I am refused the choice to control where it takes my life.

  • My view of it is: If you are against abortion, don’t have an abortion. Just like if you’re against gay marriage, don’t get gay married.

  • The abortion that I had in London was a totally different experience to the first one.

  • We went to a Marie Stopes clinic and sat in the foyer with a bunch of chatty teenagers. They were all really open about what was happening. One of the girls was only 14 and found out after her scan, to her horror,  that she was only weeks away from giving birth.

  • At the time I remember trying really hard not to be judgey (and failing). The girls looked to me like Vicky Pollard charicatures. I had to remind myself that I was sitting in there with them in the very same situation. We were all in this together.

  • I can’t remember much about it. They did a scan and asked me if I wanted to see the ‘pregnancy’ on the screen. I said no, but my partner wanted to see it. I didn’t want him to look. This was another ‘first’ ruined. I had always thought this would be a happy moment.

  • I didn’t have to go under general anaesthetic. I just had to take two pills, followed by a day of intense period pain, which I now recognise as contractions.

  • It was slow and painful, but it was what I wanted.  

  • We were living with my partner’s friends who we hadn’t told. I pretended I had a tummy bug and stayed in our room for two days. This was before smartphones, I had no TV and my partner was at work all day. It was just me alone with a heartbreaking feeling that I was far from home and I had fucked up. It was shit.

  • The shit feeling stayed with me for some time. Every time something went wrong with my job I thought, “I gave up my baby for this.” It took years to get over that. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t ready, it wasn’t the right time for me. At that time, I was scared shitless about being a mum.

  • A few years later we had our first child and we were both so ready for it. We got to celebrate lots of  happy ‘firsts’.

  • It wasn’t easy, there were moments in the early days of motherhood that were really testing for my mental health, for our relationship and for our finances. But we got through those moments knowing we both wanted to be there, doing it together at that time in our lives.

  • Those moments would have been so much harder had we gone through with that first pregnancy. Who knows how it would have turned out. I guess I was too scared to find out.

  • I now have quite a few friends who were young mums, or single mums who took a different route to mine. I look at them and think ‘Wow, you had the guts to do it’. These women chose to raise a kid without a dad, or in a country far from home, or put their career on hold right as it was meant to take off. I’m in awe of them.

  • I can see that they have had a harder route than I have. But I can also see that their love for their child is no different to my love for mine. Perhaps they didn’t want an unexpected pregnancy, but their children are loved and wanted and brilliant. 

  • This makes me wonder ‘what if?’. But every time I ponder it, I still come back to the same conclusion. I made the right decision. For me. 

  • Each woman who finds herself in this situation deserves to make that decision because she’s the only one who knows what’s right for her future. 

  • Years later, we now have two kids. I’d love a third, but my husband thinks two is enough. I think I have finally come around to agreeing with him. Our family is complete. But there will always be a bit of me that thinks of that other one we could have had.

  • I see my friend in Australia with her beautiful teenager and it sometimes crosses my mind to think of how things could have been different. But it’s just one of the many thousands of what-ifs based on decisions that we make which pave the way through our adult lives.

  • I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to make that choice.  

  • Every woman deserves that opportunity.

  • _________________

1 in 3 in the UK and 95% of them don’t regret it:

( This is an old article but this is where I got this fact from: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/1-3-women-have-abortion-and-95-don-t-regret-it-so-why-aren-t-we-talking-about-it-10392750.html )

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2 Comments

  • Reply Ali December 7, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing hopefully there will come a time where this topic isn’t surrounded by so much stigma. To me it is totally simple, if you’re not ready to raise a child, don’t do it. Your body, your choice.

  • Reply EZD December 7, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with your article, your body, your decision.
    You have a responsibility to children that you bring into this world, & if you’re not ready then it’s your choice not to do so.

  • Leave a Reply to Ali Cancel Reply