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Date of incident: December 2006
One thing I learned from my recent experience of having an abortion is the fact that I am not alone. However I never felt more alone than the days after I learned of my pregnancy.
I have a large network of girlfriends and a wonderful family but I could not bring myself to tell anyone what had happened and what I was going to do about it. My Catholic background doesn’t help, regardless of your faith or traditions you are bound to be shunned by someone you love or trust. My family wouldn’t understand and my girlfriends, well some are mothers themselves and I know that some pregnancies were accidents like mine – so they were faced with the same choice as me but made another decision…how could they possibly understand?
We were married just under a year when I discovered I was 6 weeks pregnant. We had discussed this before and had agreed that children wont come for a while, not until we settle in our new careers, get on our feet financially and definitely not until we go on the big trip we’d been planning forever.
Even before I took the test, we had agreed that I will have an abortion. There wasn’t too much thought put into it; we weren’t ready, this was a mistake, we must solve the problem. It’s very different though, when you know the problem is real and you have to do something about it; making phone calls, appointments, speaking to strangers and having to be responsible when your world is falling apart. Fortunately, I got in touch with some wonderful caring and helpful people who were truly there for me each step of the way.
I had to wait 2 weeks till my clinic appointment. That was the hardest part, my hormones were all over the place and I couldn’t stop crying. I was bloated and so sleepy all the time. I wanted things to be back to normal but had to wait. In retrospect, I am glad I had those 2 weeks to wait; it gave me enough time to go over and over the decision in my head and be absolutely sure of it before I went ahead.
My visit to the clinic wasn’t as terrible as I had expected; it’s just like any regular doctors office. I saw a couple of girls there and it helped so much to know that we were all the same, and living the same nightmare. As for the procedure itself, I was petrified. The nurse explained everything and gave me some painkillers, plus some medication to calm me. It was all over in 15 minutes and I hardly felt a thing. The medication was brilliant and I was completely distracted, I was sent to lie down for 20 minutes & sent off home after that. That was it.
I don’t have any regrets. I was not ready to have a child and if I did go ahead with that pregnancy I would have had to live with the implications of that decision for the rest of my life. If and when I do want to be a mother, I can make the choice to go down that road.
I never told anyone about this, the subject is too much of a taboo and I don’t want to lose friends or upset my family over this. I am still the same person I always was, and nothing has changed. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge you until they have walked in your shoes.
Betty’s Thoughts at Age 81
I’ve been pro-choice for about 40 years or more. I’m pro-choice because the alternatives are dangerous to women’s health and every child deserves the right to be wanted.
My husband and I married in 1952 and practiced contraception (thank God it was not illegal) until we wanted to have children four years later. Abortion was not legal at that time.
Becoming a Mother
I look at my son Zacharie and I realize I have to say “Thank you!”. Yes, “Thank you” because he is healthy. “Thank you” also because he is wanted and loved without any reservation or regrets.
It is true, we take for granted the fact that some children are that fortunate, but this is not how it always happens, unfortunately. Zacharie is here today because his mum had a choice – the choice not to continue a pregnancy that was not wanted, a pregnancy that came too early to allow me to be a mother a child deserves.
At 20 years old, I became pregnant. If I had not been able to get an abortion, I know Zacharie would not be here today. The choice I made then allowed me to continue my studies, my life and my love.
At 32, after years of thinking about it, I made another choice. I chose to give birth to a child because I had the means to give him/her enough love and a roof over his head. We are not rich but we are at the age where we are mature enough to make the sacrifices needed in order to fulfill the needs of our babies.
Would I had been able to do the same thing when I was twenty? The only answer possible is no.
When I was 22 and just graduated I became pregnant. In 1967 abortion was illegal. I couldn’t afford a private, safe abortion, so I went to a back-street abortionist. A few hours after the procedure, I collapsed on the street and was taken to emergency.
The next thing I remember is waking up to, “We think we’ve saved the baby.” My only option was to refuse all medication and food and make myself so unpleasant I was sent to the hospital’s psychiatric department where I was judged sufficiently “deranged” I could legally have an abortion.
I hope no one needs to go through this now.
Marion: age 70, Ontario
Although I have been a long time supporter of first CARAL and now Canadians for Choice, I must say that I have never had or needed an abortion and only know of one woman in my circle of acquaintances who had a pregnancy terminated due to contracting German Measles.
However, I firmly believe every child should be a wanted one, nurtured in a loving family as opposed to being brought up by a young mother who has no financial or emotional support. To this end, I will continue to support a woman’s right to choose.
Year of incident: 1985 in Toronto, ON.
I found myself pregnant with a man I thought I loved. However, he would not even consider a vasectomy. I’d been on the pill but in my mid 30’s an IUD was recommended and it failed. Doctors would not do a tubal ligation earlier because they thought I would change my mind.
It’s been somewhat difficult being childless, but I KNOW it was the right decision. The doctors and nurses in Toronto during the procedure were terrific.
Year of incident: 1976, Winnipeg, MB
When I was in my teens neither birth control nor abortion were easily available, even in a large city, unless you knew where to look. I grew up in a sheltered middle-class area and never gave it much thought until I was about 16 and working part-time at my first job (and my first exposure to wider society.) A co-worker who was only two or three years older than me (18 or 19 I think) told me her story about how she had gotton pregnant and had to travel all the way from Winnipeg to Montreal for an abortion at Dr. Morgentaler’s clinic. I think she felt “older and wiser” afterward and was telling all her younger co-workers about it (as soft of “motherly advice”.) She told me never to take chances and that she had learned that a local clinic would prescribe birth control to minors without informing their parents and to make sure I went there when I needed it.
Not long after I began dating my now-husband of 25 years, and I remembered her advice. Thank goodness for the clinic, a pioneer in Winnipeg in reproductive health. Because of my co-workers advice and that inner-city clinic, which I had otherwise never heard of, my husband and I went on to complete university, get married and eventually have two wonderful (and planned) children. But I have never taken this for granted and have supported reproductive choice and education for young people ever since.
A Nurse’s Perspective
Not a lot to say- only that I have worked as a public health nurse since 1967, a lot of that time in sexual health programs. Things sure have changed since I started nursing. How much better to be able to refer women directly to safe abortion services. How much less emotional trauma, embarrassment, humiliation, punishment.
Now there’s contraception too. I can’t imagine if young women didn’t have easy access to contraception (although a lack of family physicians is again causing frustration for some women.) Our clinic deals mainly with those under 25. A dear friend of mine tried to get the pill in 1966, and she was denied it because she wasn’t married! I shudder at the thought of the “age of consent” returning to 16. I remember how we used to have to have girls sign their name stating they were 16 so that they were covered. Not a lot of “under 16’s” in my clinic, but enough to demonstrate a clear need.
Pregnant girls have enough to deal with without having to wonder how on earth they can end this pregnancy. Whether from a mistake, an error in judgement- whatever. Who out there hasn’t done the same- many times. “My” kids can easily get to a city where there are services. So many have no easy access.
Fortunately for me, I have never been in a position that required me to contemplate abortion. This does not, however, give me the right to tell other women what to do when they are in an extremely difficult situation.
Those who call themselves pro-life are really only interested in making abortion illegal. Abortions are grim, but illegal abortions are worst of all. When abortion is illegal, no drop in abortions occurs. In the depression years the birth rate was very low. Do the pro-life think that this was the result of abstinence? Come off it. The stories of illegal abortion are horrifying.
It’s simple. A good friend died of illegal abortion in the early 50’s in Ontario. I am pro-choice.
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