What really happens when you decide to end a pregnancy?
Abortion is an issue that has divided society for hundreds of years.
Human history has a tradition of women helping other women to end unwanted and dangerous pregnancies, often using life-threatening methods. Because of the blanket illegality of abortion in the 19th and 20th centuries, women were forced to endure knitting needles, knives, and the infamous coat hanger procedure with very little, if any, aesthetic, and inadequate sterilization. Mortality rates were unsurprisingly extremely high.
In the 1960s, women started pushing for the right to choose, and abortion became more widely available. Procedures became safer and easier. Women chipped away at the stigma of abortion as a clandestine, shameful act, and the pro-choice movement augmented the idea of female body autonomy. Regardless of this progress however, abortion is still regularly reduced to a matter of a mother’s convenience, and often self-interest. The man involved is very rarely held accountable.
The stark reality is women have abortions for many reasons. Here, three women bravely reveal the real story behind the challenging decision to end a pregnancy and the always highly personal circumstances involved.
Anna:* “My boyfriend treated me like a whore”.
“I was 17 and had just broken up with a guy I’d only dated for a few weeks. When I found out I was pregnant I knew immediately that I would have an abortion. I was way too young to have a baby, to be a mother, and I didn’t want to be tied to a man – a boy really – that I’d spent less than a month with, for the rest of my life.
The worst part pre-procedure was how he treated me. The first thing he asked me was, “How do I know it’s mine?” going on to say it “wasn’t exactly hard” to get me into bed, insinuating I slept around. We’d been faithfully dating and having sex together, and he treated me like I was a whore.
Author and feminist Lindy West explains why she wants women to speak up about their abortions. Post continues.
He refused to give me a ride to get the abortion. He was Catholic and said abortion was “wrong”, though he never asked me to keep the pregnancy. He gave me half the money for the procedure through a mutual friend and I never saw him again. A friend of a friend drove me the morning of my abortion, and took me to Denny’s afterward so I could eat. I was under the weather and tired for a few days afterward but never sad. I was only relieved to have it over with, and to get back to my life.”
Jessica*: “Her name would have been Elizabeth”.
“I was pregnant with twins. It was a miraculous, long hoped for pregnancy. Infertility had been an issue in my life for 15 years. I lost my first husband over it. Other things that stalled parenthood for us was a bout of the ‘garden variety’ of cancer; recoverable, non-metastasizing, but we had to delay fertility treatment. A glitch in our health insurance also meant we depleted our savings account.