Welp, abortion is making headlines again. Imaginary abortion, as it happens - since nobody has ever managed to produce an actual real live sex selective abortion in this country anyway. It's all hearsay and supposition, but it won't stop anti-choice, anti-woman organisations from using this scare tactic to try and roll back the clock on women's right to their own body. That's how these things work: there is no good argument in favour of denying women human rights, so antis have to rely on lies and allusions.
Personally, I think we don't talk about abortion enough in this country. Well, in any country really. We have a lot of (mostly) men talking about what abortion is and isn't and what women should and shouldn't be allowed to do with their own hooches, but actual women talking about actual abortion? Not so much. And this silence contributes to the antis' efforts to portray abortion as something shameful and secret, when in fact for most women it's a medical necessity no worse than a root canal.
A few days ago, a blogger shared her personal experience of abortion, very bravely I think in the prevailing climate of shaming and judgement (
The minute the condom broke I knew I was going to get pregnant. Not that I hadn't had scares before, but this time I just KNEW. The following morning, I told my mom: I think I may be pregnant. She asked me what I wanted to do. I immediately said "have an abortion". We talked about whether to tell dad or not. Decided not to, for the time being.
I told my boyfriend. He said if I had the baby he would kill himself, which hurt a lot even though I definitely didn't want to be a mother (then, or ever - I don't have children). I think that was the only part of getting an abortion that really traumatised me, and which I ended up having bad dreams or sad thoughts about - him rejecting the pregnancy in such a brutal way. I know it's silly, but it's the truth.
I bought a home pregnancy test and the line turned blue straight away, so I'd been right. I went to see my doctor and told him I wanted to have an abortion; my boyfriend came with me, which was just as well, because after an exam my doctor said he thought I might have an ectopic pregnancy and we had to rush to the emergency room. They did a urine test and announced that I was pregnant (thanks, I already knew, but maybe the people in the next town didn't, do you want to shout any louder please?). It wasn't ectopic, so I had to go through the usual channels to get my termination.
Before being approved for an abortion, I had to have 2 ultrasounds. One in my doctor's office at exactly 6 weeks after conception, to make sure there was a heartbeat - in those days you couldn't do a termination before a heartbeat was detected - and one at the hospital. The one at the hospital was pretty unpleasant. It was an internal ultrasound - essentially and enormous dildo covered in nasty cold gel. And someone came into the room without knocking while it was being done! I introduced myself to them, which took them by surprise to say the least - but I said, well, since you're going to come into the room when I'm half naked, with legs akimbo and a great big wand shoved up my altogether, we may as well get to know each other. They left pretty sharpish after that.
I think that was also the day I had my talk with the social worker; you had to, to get approval from a medical board to have a termination. I told her a bunch of lies about how if my father knew he would kill me and all that, playing up a sob story to make sure the board approves my termination. We both knew I was lying. It's a stupid law, as stupid as the two doctor rule in the UK if not more so. Why make women lie?
The six weeks between when I knew I was pregnant and the time of all of these ultrasounds and the eventual hospital appointment were a nightmare. Whether it was psychosomatic or real, I felt terrible all the time: drained, nauseous, achy and miserable. I couldn't WAIT to be not-pregnant again. Strangely I never really worried that my application would not be approved and I'll be forced to carry to term: I was just so, so certain that I COULD NOT BE PREGNANT RIGHT NOW that it carried me through what might have otherwise been a really anxious period (of no periods, haha).
The day before my appointment for the termination, I had to go into the outpatient clinic in the hospital and have a dilator shoved up my cervix, because apparently if you haven't had children before your cervix is really tiny and needs widening for the scrape to be possible. As luck would have it, it was a teaching hospital and the consultant asked my permission (which was nice of him compared to that ultrasound person!) to let a student doctor do it. I said yes, and then had to stifle my giggles, because the guy was only about my age and obviously terrified. Even though there I was, legs akimbo in a room with strangers again, I was definitely the one more at ease!
Did you know that the cervix dilating thing they stick up you is basically a TWIG?! You could have knocked me over with a feather. Anyway, that was fairly unpleasant, physically speaking, and the following 24 hours spent with carpentry up my wazoo wasn't great either.
My boyfriend and my mom came to the hospital with me. I was put in a gown & given some pills to relax me, then we just waited and waited and waited. There were a lot of other women there, but the only one I remember was a young Arab woman with her partner - boyfriend or husband, I don't know. At a certain point they came to roll us all up to Theatre, after which they parked us in a corridor and we waited again. I was pretty chill at this point, what with the drugs, but my mom was getting impatient as all the other women disappeared one by one. She was just about to go start poking people with a stick when a nurse came out of Theatre, took a look at me and ran back in, shouting "wait! We've got another one!" We nearly died giggling.
I had a really lovely anesthesiologist who flirted and promised that he will give me nice dreams. I fell under and the next thing I remember is waking up because the Arab girl was crying and sobbing to break your heart. Anesthesia does funny things to your head, so I cried a little too, out of sympathy, but then my mom came in and the flirty anesthesiologist came to check on the dreams I'd had (I complained, there had been no nice ones!), and pretty soon I was ok.
They put me in a recovery room full of women who had actually given birth, which was very strange if you ask me. They were all super miserable and I was SO GLAD I was not having a baby. After that, I don't remember much, except that I was really hungry so mom got me some junk food from the hospital shop. My boyfriend had scarpered long before I got taken up to Theatre anyway.
Then after that... There's a bit if a blank in my memory. I don't remember going home or what the following few days were like. I was up and about straight away and was entirely hale and hearty, but had some very serious cramps for about a month afterwards that were so severe I ended up in A&E once. But they said it's normal and the pain will go away, so I just waited, and it did.
And that's it, really. I never regretted my decision or felt guilty for it. I never even KNEW I should feel guilty, until I came to live in the UK and was exposed to anti-abortion propaganda for the first time. All I felt at the time was euphoric relief. And to this day, I am absolutely convinced this was the best decision to make, for me, for my family, for everyone.