When I found myself pregnant it was the result of my then-boyfriend forcing himself on me. No contraception. No access to the Morning-After-Pill which was prescription in those days, and I had no doctor. The first inkling of pregnancy was a feeling of wellness and joy. It took three months to realize, but then everything made sense. By then I longed to carry the baby to term, despite my youth. The boyfriend had different ideas. He insisted upon an abortion. Wasn’t going to pay a penny if the child was born. The bus took me past projects and I saw unrelenting poverty, the loss of choice, the destitution of many young women abandoned by their partners. I didn’t want to end up in a council flat, staring at 4 walls.
My mother hadn’t wanted me, she should have had an abortion, but she didn’t have that choice. I did. Much as my hormones longed to bring a child into the world, I saw the total lack of support I would get, I wasn’t even at University yet, it wasn’t practical or healthy. A part of me hated to do it because it was such an easy out for my boyfriend. He got off. I wanted him to pay for his part in it but this wasn’t the way, using a child. I’d grown up palpably aware of not being wanted by my mother, I didn’t want any child to experience that. I didn’t want to be doomed to extreme poverty myself. I struggled as it was. A child seemed untenable. The abortion was free. The nurses were perfunctory. The doctor wasn’t very nice. It was a sad day.
I lay in bed after I woke up and saw all the other women in the ward, they all looked sad but also relieved. Relieved not to be forced into poverty, whilst the man gets away with it. Women are shamed. Men are understood. If men could get pregnant abortion would never be illegal. So many of my friends who got pregnant around that time and chose to keep the baby, are living in poverty. Money isn’t everything but life is already hard. Dooming yourself and your child to poverty and zero support wasn’t my answer and I have never regretted that.
When I immigrated to America I met many people who thought abortion was a crime, a cruelty. I wanted to say; the cruelty is when you have no choice. The cruelty is being forced and the consequences that has on a child’s life. I wouldn’t be seen as merciful, I would be seen as a murderer. My ex has no children, I’m so glad about that. Life is hard. Don’t force or judge other women who can’t for a myriad of reasons, don’t want a pregnancy. I never regretted my abortion. I always knew it was the right choice for me. I lament the cruelty of judgement without an understanding that women are not free without choice.