This story is that of the author’s experience and may or may not reflect anyone else’s. For information, advice and tailored support services, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service are on-hand to discuss options with all pregnant people. The author of this piece has chosen to stay anonymous but I should make clear here that Eat Weep Mum Repeat supports everyone’s choice to make decisions about their own body that are right for them. No anonymous sources are ever disclosed. Wanna write your story, anonymous or named? E-mail me!
TW: Abortion, medical themes.
Feel like you might wanna get out of here? No worries, click here.
I had an abortion. And so probably has your work colleague, a person sat near to you on the bus, a family member or a close friend. But it’s not often discussed. Even amongst close friendship groups, termination is often spoken about in hushed tones and allegorical language. I am here to say that I had an abortion, and I haven’t regretted it for a single moment since. And I can’t be the only one – so why the shame?
From the outset I’d like to say that this is not a pro-choice vs pro-life discussion – as I think the subject matter makes my beliefs clear enough. This is, however, an opportunity for me to open up about my experience in the hope it emboldens others to be more open with their decisions and to normalise the discourse around abortion as a medical procedure.
Termination isn’t a difficult decision for every person, every time.
12 years ago, I was 24 and in a long-term relationship. I was financially independent. I was healthy. And I did not want a baby. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt as though my whole world was collapsing in on itself. I had never wanted children so this was not in my life plan. The sobs that came from deep in my gut when looking at that double line on the pregnancy test in my work toilets only served to reinforce this life choice. Motherhood was not meant for me. I did not struggle to make this decision as is often the misconception. With help from my GP, I arranged to have an abortion as soon as possible.
Not wanting to be pregnant doesn’t make abortion enjoyable.
I had a medical abortion at 9 weeks: there is no denying that was not a pleasant experience. I certainly did not come skipping and dancing out of the clinic, even though I remined certain I had made the right decision for me. Even now, when you can receive this treatment in the comfort of your own home, it can be painful and distressing. Back when I had my termination, I had to make two trips to a clinic to complete – which is not an option for everyone, highlighting accessibility issues in achieving the correct treatment. I can only imagine a surgical abortion being equally, if not much more, uncomfortable.
I don’t regret my abortion. But I have lied about it.
In truth, the same can be said when I had a tooth removed a few years back. I really hate how flippant that sounds but it is my truth. I felt no emotional attachment to that pregnancy. I have however found myself at times feigning anguish when discussing my choice to terminate the pregnancy in the past. Even amongst pro-choice advocates, there still feels like there is a certain amount of stigma, weighing up whether your reasons were ‘justified’ or not. “Did you not use contraception?”. “Well, how far along were you?”. These words, even all these years later, are loaded with judgement. For many, not wanting to be pregnant is not enough of a reason to terminate a pregnancy. And so, I have heard myself lie about the reasons behind it, lie about when or how it happened or just outright denying it. But the truth is it remains one of the best decisions I ever made. And here’s why.
Not wanting to be pregnant is enough.
An unwanted child was not brought into this world because of the decision I made. That feels harsh to write. But it is honest. I did not, and still do not, want the child my pregnancy would have produced. I did not want to be pregnant or give birth or raise a small human. It is not what I wanted for my life. Why you decide to terminate a pregnancy is your business and there doesn’t have to be a medical need.
I don’t respect parents any less because I’m not one.
Saying all this, I can never express enough how much I admire those who do choose to become parents. I truly believe it to be the hardest, most important job in the world. As the only childfree person in my friendship group, I have watched my incredible friends raise incredible children and I am genuinely thrilled for them. I also understand that it must be hard to understand for people who are desperate for a baby when they see a privileged woman deciding to end her pregnancy. Some people will never relate to the feeling of dread being pregnant made me feel, and that’s ok. But I simply did not want to be a parent and I have never regretted that decision.
Everyone’s story is different and valid. Including mine.
I worked with a woman who had a tattoo to memorialise the baby she terminated. Everyone’s abortion story is individual and affects each person in a different way. My dominant feeling after I had mine was relief. I could restart my life again. I do not mourn “my baby”. I have a life full of the things I want to do, rather than those I feel obligated to. I bought my first home at 28. Started my degree at 29. I can travel the world, or I can spend the entire day (work permitting!) in bed or on my sofa binging a true crime docuseries on Netflix if I choose and not have to worry about the school pickup or nap times or breast pumps. Of course, all of these things are things you can do as a parent but there is no denying the restraints having a child puts on any life decisions that could impact them. Please don’t be fooled into thinking childfree life is one long glamorous easy breezy holiday – I still have mental health struggles, bills to pay, a job to do, relationship issues, family drama – but throughout it all I can just be myself. I am not seen primarily as “someone’s mother” above all other facets of my life. My decision to have an abortion was me choosing to centre myself and my own wellbeing above others’ opinions.
You don’t need to regret feeling selfish.
Termination can be a selfish decision and is often referred to as one. For me, being childfree by choice for me was and remains an inherently selfish decision. And I’m fine with that. I am proud of choosing to exercise my right to full autonomy over my body, and I won’t be shamed into thinking otherwise. My abortion is not part of my identity, but it has helped to shape my life and I refuse to feel guilt for that. And neither should you.
The featured image at the top of this page was taken by Matteo Badini, for Unsplash.