Search

I Have No Regrets

by Anonymous

June 11, 2019

When I first started dating my boyfriend, my father wrote a letter to me and left it on my bed. The letter said that he still loved me even though he suspected that I was sexually active (my parents are Christians who believe that pre-marital sex is a sin), and then he begged me to not have an abortion if I became pregnant. He expressed his belief that there shouldn’t be the choice, and that abortions led to negative psychological conditions for the women. He wrote that the he would raise the baby if I completed a pregnancy. My first impulse was to tear up the letter and never speak of it.

I was 18 years-old when I found out that I was pregnant (2 years after the letter). I had been feeling a kind of nausea that I had never felt before, so I wasn’t overly surprised when the pregnancy test showed up as positive. I went through all of the decision-making material on different websites and decided to have an abortion. Each day that I was pregnant made university classes joyless and difficult. On the day of the abortion, I was experiencing pregnancy sickness (as usual) and I was extremely anxious. I took the bus to the clinic, but there was only a very subtle sign painted almost the same colour of the building on the side, and I so I didn’t notice the clinic. There was a house across from the abortion clinic with large signs that had almost the same name as the clinic. With all of my anxiety about the procedure, I was easily confused. I stumbled into the building with the loud, flashy signs and asked if they were the clinic or if they would direct me to the clinic. The woman there stated that they gave information about pregnancy options, but that it was against their policy to direct women to the clinic. Looking back, it should have been extremely obvious that the “pro-life” organization was not the clinic as it was a house. But at the time I was anxious, sick, and conditioned to believe almost anything about where and how abortions were performed.

Eventually I found the clinic, and even though I was late, the workers were very kind and said that they would still be able to do the procedure that day. I had to go through a mandatory counselling session beforehand where the counselor made sure that I understood my options. I didn’t like my counselor, but that may have been because I was overly sensitive that day. During the abortion, there were about 6 people in the room and people were telling me that I needed to breathe or else something that was medically dangerous would happen. I was hyperventilating and crying, but the abortion was successful and the doctor was very kind and compassionate.

Before I had my abortion, I had been surrounded by misinformation about the procedure. I had been told by friends, family, and news media that abortion clinics pressured women into abortions, that abortions were somehow similar to the holocaust, and that abortion was no different than murder; these statements about abortion are completely false. At the clinic, no one pressured me to have an abortion; they wanted women to consider all of the options. The Nazis were “pro-life” so I’m not sure why there is this wildly inappropriate comparison to the holocaust (as if abortions are this new development and didn’t exist in Nazi Germany when abortions have existed for as long as humankind). Statements about abortion and murder made me feel shame and guilt, but they shouldn’t have. The only reason I mention some of the anti-abortion propaganda is because they are important to my story.

 

After the abortion, the first emotion I felt was gratitude. I was so incredibly grateful that there was a clinic close by that could terminate my unwanted pregnancy. I remember walking back from the bus stop and feeling so liberated. I could finally enjoy the fall breeze and changing leaves because the cloud of nausea and sickness had been lifted. After these feelings though, I felt guilty. I felt as though I should have been feeling a sense of loss, as though I was less human and less of a woman for not mourning some kind of death or lost potential.

Since I felt such negative emotions, I searched through the health clinic’s rituals to help cope with loss. The grief processes outlined only made me feel more like I had committed some sort of crime. I kept wondering why women would need a ritual to lock their grief in a remote place when every woman has the right to an abortion. At first I thought maybe it was because I did, in fact, do something wrong. Now, I realize that women who choose to terminate pregnancies do nothing wrong; rather, social circumstances are often infused with patriarchy and make women think that they may have committed some sort of crime.

I told 3 friends about my abortion. Two of them identify as pro-life, but they tried to react with love. My third friend said that she supported my decision, although I could tell that she really disliked abortion. None of my friends acted like I had just had a regular medical procedure and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my decision. My boyfriend supported my decision a little too enthusiastically (without showing adequate support for the other options if I had chosen them).

As I started reading more about history, and drug history in particular, I began to come across so many instances where the bodies of women were regulated through health care. Laudanum was used to regulate the behaviour of women. In 1889, an anonymous account of a woman is filled with shame and guilt after physicians told her that she brought on her headaches from practicing music too much during the day and not taking the path of a more domestic life. There are countless examples throughout history of women made to feel guilty when they have not molded themselves to fit into some role that is often detrimental.

 

Now, I am incredibly grateful that I had an abortion, and I don’t feel any guilt for this gratitude. I never wanted kids, and I still don’t. My month of feeling the effects of pregnancy was a nightmare that made life feel like a burden. One Catholic blogger wrote that women who are pregnant are prepared by God for motherhood. The blog stated that women notice babies and smile when they are pregnant. When I saw a baby during that month, the sense of dread that I felt became unbearable. Because I wasn’t forced to continue my pregnancy, I am going into my fourth year of a degree and looking forward to applying for grad school (I know that carrying the pregnancy to term would have impacted my academic achievements. Some women may be able to have children and continue university or their careers at the same pace, but I am not one of those women). Because I am not a mother, I can continue to live the life that I want; I can travel and pursue my love of learning. When I think about the “what ifs,” I am so overwhelmingly thankful that I am not a mother because motherhood has never been the path for me. Abortion is a normal procedure that women have always undergone. The only abnormal element of abortion is the controversy and anger that surrounds terminating a pregnancy.

 

If I were to make the decision again, I would choose to have an abortion (but this time, without guilt or fear).

I have no regrets.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!