When it comes to the subject of Abortion, I’m ‘pro-choice,’ but with stipulations. I despise women who use it as a form of birth control, three, four, five times, it makes me mad. I also don’t agree with women who decide to terminate their healthy pregnancies at the last moment for selfish reasons.
Last night I was watching Panorama on BBC1 which was discussing proposed new legislation regarding abortion laws in Ireland, where it is illegal, and doctors and women could face life in prison for murder if carried out. It reminded me that I have an unpublished piece I wrote quite a few years ago when the subject of abortion was again in the news. I had interviewed a woman I worked with, and hoped to get the story published in one of my favourite women’s mags, but it was never picked up. Now that I have my own blog, where better to share her story with you? Have a read and let me know your views on the subject:
“I first met Andre* when were working voluntarily at a record company. We never really spoke to each other, so I had absolutely no idea that he liked me, until we bumped into each other again about a year later when he asked for my number. Although I was with my boyfriend Rene* at the time, I didn’t see any harm in just chatting to Andre from time to time, especially since Rene wasn’t making the effort he should have been. Andre was cute, always made me laugh, and made me feel good about myself with his constant compliments.
When Rene and I decided to take a break it wasn’t so bad, because I had Andre there to occupy my mind. We arranged to go on a date the day before Valentines Day – just a casual night out at the cinema – but he stood me up without a phone call or any kind of warning. I was so angry that I immediately erased his number. How dare he make me feel so stupid!
Four months later while out shopping, I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise, but the voice I did. It was Andre. He apologised continuously, saying that something came up that night and he had forgotten to call and tell me, and it had taken this long to contact me because he was afraid of how angry I would be. By this time I didn’t really care anymore and had practically forgotten about it.
We spoke on and off for the next few months, until one night he invited me round to his house when no one was home. This was the first time we’d been alone together, so initially we just talked and watched TV. But eventually lust got the better of us, and before we knew it we were ripping each other’s clothes off and having sex. It was amazing! In the midst of it all we didn’t forget to use a condom – especially since we did it twice that night! I left his house early the next morning, still buzzing about what had happened, but at the same time unsure about what this meant for us.
When my period was a couple of days late, I didn’t really worry about it – it wasn’t the first time and I was getting my usual warning signals – slight cramps and very tender breasts. But a couple of days became a week and a half, and I started to get nervous. I called Andre and asked him whether anything had gone wrong in our night of passion. “I don’t think so,” he said. “But to be honest, I don’t really remember.” His words didn’t fill me with much confidence, so two days later – a week before Christmas – when my period still hadn’t arrived, I decided to visit my local Family Planning Clinic for a pregnancy test. Hearing the words: “It’s positive, you are pregnant” made my body go hot. I couldn’t believe it. How could it be? We used protection. We were careful. What went wrong? The nurse did some routine tests for STIs and any other infections, but the whole time I was just in shock. I called Andre as soon as I left the clinic and broke the news to him. My own mind had already been made up – I couldn’t have a child with someone I hardly knew, and as selfish as it sounds, I had no money, no room for a baby, and I was mid-way through a degree. Fortunately, Andre agreed with my decision; he wasn’t ready to become a parent. He was trying to forge a successful musical career as a rap artist. But he told me he would honour his responsibilities and stick by me through whatever lay ahead.
I had to wait until the New Year before my next appointment, and during the Christmas period I don’t think I had ever done so much thinking in my life. I must have changed my mind a million times, but I knew what I had to do. Even though I had made my decision, I still didn’t want to do anything to harm the embryo in the meantime, so I kept away from alcohol, and made sure I wasn’t too active. It made me feel less guilty somehow.
I attended the clinic alone that day, because Andre had made some feeble excuse about being unable to accompany me. The nurses and consultants asked me a load of questions about my health and my decision, making sure that I wasn’t being forced into it. They also explained the Vacuum Aspiration procedure I was to undergo, and its risks and medications. I had an ultrasound scan to see how far along I was, but the nurse turned the screen away from my view just in case it upset me. By now I was 8 weeks gone, and my termination appointment was made for exactly 2 weeks later.
I only told two people about my pregnancy – my best friend and my closest cousin. On the day of the abortion my cousin accompanied me to the clinic, because once again Andre let me down (only this time he didn’t give me an excuse, because I couldn’t even get through to him). If anything, this confirmed to me that I was making the right decision. If he couldn’t be there for me for one day, what would he be like for the next 18+ years? Although my appointment was at 9.30am, it took about two and a half hours before it was my turn to go into the operating theatre, during which time we sat in the waiting room with a dozen other women of all ages, reading practically every magazine on the table. It wasn’t until I was eventually called that I began to get extremely anxious. I was told to get on to a stretcher, placed outside two huge double doors, and the nurses and doctor prepared me. The last thing I remember was the doctor asking me questions about my day so far, while the nurse injected the biggest needle I’ve ever seen into my arm, but I don’t know if I replied him. The next thing I knew I was being woken up after what felt like hours of sleep, only to discover 15 minutes had gone by. I was no longer pregnant. Instead I had period-like cramps and I could feel myself bleeding. I was wheeled down to the recovery room, where I could finally have something to drink. About an hour went by and I was given antibiotics, then my cousin was able to take me home. I felt guilty about what I had just done, but I think I was also slightly in denial, because I wasn’t as sad as I thought I’d be. After two weeks of bleeding and a final check up, I was back to normal. Andre had tried to call me to find out how it went, but I ignored his call. I didn’t need such a weak man in my life, and I didn’t really care what he had to say.
For the next couple of months I carried on working and studying, and not much else was happening, until one day Rene showed up at my house unexpectedly. I let him in and we spoke for a while, clearing the air. I knew I didn’t want to get back with him, but I still found him very sexy, so when he started coming on to me, I didn’t resist. We ended up having sex that night, but as always we used condoms as our protection, except this time it was quite vigorous and the condom ended up coming off inside me. Everything seemed in to be tact though, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I was expecting my period about three days later, but when it didn’t come I still wasn’t really worried – I put it down to a change in my cycle. After a week I started to get the feeling of deja-vu, so I reluctantly decided to go and visit the Family Planning clinic for a test. There was no way I could be pregnant again, that just doesn’t happen twice in such a short space of time – but the nurse told me differently. The test came out positive again, and I was in complete shock. A million things went through my mind at the same time, all topped off with ‘This can’t be happening again!’ I told the nurse that I needed a night to think about what I would do, so she told me to visit the clinic the next day.
My life’s situation was no different to the way it was when I was pregnant the first time round, so I knew deep down that I would definitely not be having this child, but this time I didn’t tell a soul. I went back to the clinic the following day and booked an appointment for my first consultation at the Abortion Clinic. I told the doctor about my previous termination, and he in turn explained the options opened to me, one of them being non-surgical abortion – the Abortion Pill. As I had already been through one surgical procedure, I decided to go for the pill, which I was told could be taken within nine weeks of pregnancy – I was just over 3 weeks gone.
Two days later I was back at the clinic to start the procedure. I was given two tablets (called Mifepristone) to take orally in front of the doctor. He then gave me two bottles each containing another two tablets, (known as Misoprostol) which I was to insert into my vagina 24-48 hours later. I didn’t start to bleed (or miscarry) until about four hours after taking these tablets. It was like having a heavy period with very bad cramps and nausea. I was upset about what was happening, but at the same time it was too late.
I haven’t had sex since then, mainly because I don’t want to. On one hand it’s because I’m not in a relationship at the moment, but on the other hand I’m nervous about what might happen. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact that I could have been a mother by now, and I worry that I may not be able to conceive when I am ready. People may think I have been irresponsible in my actions, but I would just say that everyone is different – what may seem as the right decision to one person may not be the same for the next.
* Names have been changed