In the summer of 2012, at the age of 21, I had an abortion. And before today, only a handful of people knew this about me. Even as I write this article, almost 50 years after the legalization of abortion in Canada, it continues to be a polarizing issue.
Most recently, a new Ontario law was passed to create a 50-metre safe zone around abortion clinics and the homes of doctors who perform this procedure. This new law will allow women to enter the facility without having to endure the armies of protesters who wait for their chance to talk women out of their decision; a decision which is never made lightly.
To be clear, this is not the story of why I wish I didn’t end my pregnancy. To this day, I still believe it was the right decision for me. This is my story about the regrets this experience caused and my way of contributing a narrative which is often not shared because of them.
I regret feeling ashamed of myself
When I found out I was pregnant, I was overcome with shame. How could I let this happen? How was I going to explain this to my Catholic family? If I chose to keep it, I would be the first of my cousins to have a baby and yet, the stigma that would surround my child’s birth would follow them and me forever.
What was I supposed to do about the father? We weren’t married nor did I know if I wanted to be with him forever. There was no way I was going to force someone to be with me because I was carrying their child. I also didn’t want to tell him (and haven’t to this day) because I was afraid that he would talk me out of my decision to end it.
I regret feeling this way because it is bullshit. The truth is that I needed to make the decision for myself and not worry about what others would think, say or feel about it. The choice to have and raise a child is not one that anyone should ever feel forced in to. It is a responsibility that you should never let shame dictate.
I regret pushing away my family and friends
To this day, only a handful of people knew this about me. Up until a couple of years ago, I did not even tell my own mom what I had gone through. I regret putting this strain on my relationships to avoid the disappointment I was certain they would feel for my decision.
When I finally opened up to my mom, I didn’t feel her disappointment with the decision I made. I felt her disappointment and her shame with herself that she was unable to be there for me, when I needed her the most.
For every woman who believes they have to go through this experience alone, I urge you to talk to someone who loves you. No one would ever let you go through this alone – and I promise that the regret you will feel, for not letting people in, will far outweigh the uncomfortable conversation you think you will have.
I am eternally thankful to those who were there for me through that difficult decision. To this day, I don’t know how I could have done it without you.
I regret keeping it a secret
I regret that it took me 6 years to feel strong and brave enough to tell this truth about myself. Worrying about what others would think of me, kept me silent about my experience. However, every time I opened up with another woman about my abortion, I was surprised to learn that others had the same experience or knew someone who had gone through it.
Having undergone this procedure, I have an obligation to tell other women that they are not alone. Had more women felt comfortable to speak about their experience, I might not have felt so alone in my journey.
Let’s change the conversation so that one day there will be no more debate about abortion; that all women will be free to control their own bodies and their own reproductive health.
If you need someone to talk to for options and access to abortion services, call the Canadians for Choice (CFC) Hotline: (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) : 1-888-642-2725. Remember, you are not alone.
If you want to have a discussion about this issue with the author, please feel free to leave a comment below or send her an e-mail.