By Sarah Terzo
One post-abortive feminist regrets her abortion:
“I was majoring in women’s studies at Monash University [Australia] at the time. I thought I knew about abortion. One of my best friends had done her social work placement in an abortion centre. I had worked as a phone counsellor at a women’s crisis line. Several of my friends had had abortions. I saw it almost as a rite of passage.
It was only as I was slipping into unconsciousness from the anaesthetic that I realized [that] until that moment the word had always been “foetus”. I had had a stressful few weeks, trying to work out what to do, cope with morning sickness, finish my degree, go to work, and keep everything a secret. But as I was slipping under from the injection, suddenly, for the first time since I learned that I was pregnant, my mind became clear. I thought, “I’m killing my baby.” And then I was lying on my side, with the nurse calling my name, and it was over, and it was too late.
After the abortion I did not return to or continue the life I had before. Instead, I developed phobias. I became afraid of heights. I couldn’t walk up mountains. I couldn’t ride as a passenger in a car. I became very scared of social situations. I spent a friend’s birthday locked in the restaurant toilet. I cut myself off from everyone. I gave up my job and my further study. I stopped answering the phone. I stopped getting out of bed. …
I believed what I had been told about abortion. I believed in my right to choose, that this was a hard-won right thanks to my feminist predecessors. I believed that what was growing in my body was a foetus. I attended counselling at the Royal Women’s to help me make my choice. I understood the physical procedure, about not having a bath in case of infection…
From my work at the Women’s Crisis Line, I knew which unplanned pregnancy support services were government run and “unbiased.” I knew which phone counselling service to avoid because it was run by “Right-to-Lifers.” I knew they gave “biased” information. I knew to avoid the “emotive” language and images the Right-to-Life movement used. I believed I was well informed. I did my best to be.
Afterwards, I realised I had not been well informed at all. If anything, I had been misinformed. At no point had I been told that going through an abortion can be extremely psychologically distressing. I did not know that women’s lives can fall apart the way mine did as a result. The “unbiased” information and language, supposedly feminist, did not make me feel empowered. It denied my truth, and saved society from the inconvenience of another single mother.
I can’t tell other women whether or not they should have their babies, but I do strongly encourage them to know the reality of abortion if they are considering having an abortion. I wish I had known more before it was too late. I am not a Christian, or a “Right-to-Lifer,” but I do know that it was my baby that I killed.
This feminist regrets her abortion. She has the following message to women who find themselves pregnant:
To find out you are pregnant when you didn’t plan to be is a big thing. You are faced with an intense choice, possibly the most significant choice a human being can face–have a child or have an abortion. There is no compromise, no trial period, no thinking time. Either way, your life will dramatically change. You need all the support and knowledge you can get. There is no turning back if you get it wrong. You have to live with your choice for the rest of your life. It is beyond me why pro-choice organisations would be against women being able to make informed decisions.
Five years on, there are days when I don’t think about the child I don’t have, but they are still rare.
Ginger Ekselman, “My abortion: one woman’s story.” Fairfax Digital July 16, 2004 .
This feminist regrets her abortion and she is not the only one. Read more stories from women who had abortions.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.