I grew up in a religious home where I was raised according to Christian values. I was fiercely devoted to the church – I believed marriage was for a man and woman only, abortion was murder and sex before marriage would be a grave dishonor to my future husband (although it turns out he actually liked that I knew what I was doing when we had sex before we were married).
While I still believe in the teachings of Jesus (he basically boiled it all down to love others), I long ago parted ways with many of the social constructs of the “church.”
I am now a 29-year-old married woman. My husband and I have been married for 5 years. We have a wonderful son and modest starter home. Life was perfect until, I found myself unexpectedly laid off from which caused me terrible anxiety and saw me slipping into a deep depression.
I began to wonder what I would do and if I had any skills valuable to any employer.
A couple weeks after that I found out I was pregnant.
I started back up on birth control when I finished breast feeding. My husband and I had unprotected sex shortly afterward. The next morning I was concerned because I hadn't been back on the pill for very long so to be safe I went and got Plan B.
Since I had been so irregular since having my baby a year earlier and had no idea where I was in my cycle, this seemed like the responsible thing to do. We weren’t ready for another baby; I had to focus on finding a new job.
We put the incident behind us,
Turns out Plan B didn't work and a few weeks later my body started letting me know something was up. I kept denying it.
“Oh it’s just a stomach bug.” Or “Oh I am just tired because the baby is waking up for a bottle in the middle of the night.”
But morning sickness hit me hard and fast the first time around and the minute I started gagging on apples I had a sneaking suspicion that my Plan B may have failed.
I bought a pregnancy test and took it at home. My son was playing on the floor of the bathroom. When I saw it was positive I said out loud – “FUCK.” I looked at my son. (He’s only one, he doesn’t understand that word yet right?) Then I started to cry.
My husband and I talked about it for a while that night. My husband trying to figure out how to get another kid in the house. He said that he would get another job if I couldn’t find a new job. We talked and talked dancing around the “a” word until finally I said, “We can end it. It’s not a good time. I could have an abortion.”
But we both wanted more kids someday. Were we terrible for wanting it on our own terms, for not wanting this one? We are in a committed relationship. We have a good income (albeit that was a little more up in the air right now). We only have one kid.
We just wanted to wait longer. I was looking for work and really didn't think showing up to interviews pregnant would help my chances. I had dealt with depression and anxiety in the past including PPD. I started fantasizing about throwing myself down the stairs.
Researching "herbs to induce miscarriage." (There’s a tea for that in Game of Thrones so there’s got to be one in the real world, right?) I wished and prayed to miscarry so that I would be relieved of the decision.
Every day I remained pregnant I fell into a deeper and deeper spiral of self-destructive thoughts and depression.
After I decided to have the abortion, I felt immediate relief but I had to wait almost two weeks. In Canada, abortions are publicly funded and fairly easy to obtain in many urban areas like mine so access and cost was not a concern. However, given I was not even 6 weeks along and they only do abortions two mornings a week I had to wait a bit. When they called me and told me the date my abortion was scheduled for, I laughed.
I was going to be having an abortion on our wedding anniversary. A hell of a way to celebrate.
They asked if I wanted to change it but I didn't want to wait an additional 5-7 days and went ahead and booked it.
My husband came with me to the abortion. There were no protestors that day but apparently sometimes there are a few. I didn't even know where to go. Just a specific door at a satellite site of the local hospital.
I was given instructions to use a phone on the wall to get further directions and then another phone outside of the secured area where the procedure would take place.
We were told this was to protect the safety of the women – my husband felt like we were on a secret spy mission (he’s a bit of a nerd that way).
My husband sat beside me during the procedure holding my hand. As I got onto the bed I started to laugh uncontrollably. The nurses wondered why and asked if I was OK. I said it was “nervous laughter.”
Really the truth is that I was so happy to know that this pregnancy would be behind us and we could move on.
What I went through was hard and it was not a decision I came to lightly. I knew it was the right decision and I don't regret it at all. Neither does my husband. But we can't talk about it with anyone.
There are members of our families who believe that any birth control is wrong. If they were to find out that we had terminated a pregnancy there is a very real chance that they would stop communicating with us. The only people who know are the two of us, my therapist and the medical professionals.
So much of the rhetoric surrounding abortions tries to frame it as something irresponsible people do. Unintelligent people. But we are both university educated people. We are middle class and happily married. We want more kids in the future -- but the timing wasn't right.
We have always been responsible with birth control. I even had an IUD inserted after my son was born. It perforated my uterus and had to be surgically removed from my abdominal cavity (that’s another story). The one time we realized we probably hadn’t been responsible, I used Plan B within hours and it didn't work.
Abortions are had by many people and I am not a bad person for having one; no woman who has had to make the decision to terminate is. It hasn’t destroyed our marriage, having my husband’s support in this has made us stronger as a couple. I don't have post-abortion regret or wonder longingly about what could have been if I had kept the baby.
The abortion has only changed me in one way -- I am more fiercely pro-choice than I ever was. It has been a transition for me.
When I was a young teenager, I was pro-life. I told pro-choice people that the fetus is its own person and therefore should not be terminated on the whim of a woman. As I grew up, I accepted the necessity of abortions in cases of rape or incest or if the mother’s life was at risk.
Then my views changed and I began thinking that there were more circumstances that could warrant an abortion. The last 8 years or so I have identified as pro-choice but I never really would have found myself fighting for it all that hard. But now I actively want to support women in countries that don't have the access we have in Canada and I get angry about infringements on women’s rights.
Every time I see another headline with a political candidate framing abortions as evil I am filled with visceral rage. My husband sees my rage as I clinch my fists and grind my teeth at every slight to women’s rights.
He says I take it too personally. But how can I not take it personally? When I think of women’s right being lost and anti-abortion laws being passed, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and know that I have to join the fight and make sure that any woman going through this situation has a choice.