I remember the day I became an adult: I was 18.
I moved from a country town, right across Australia to a large city. To look for a job, to decide what I wanted to do with my life after finishing school.
I didn’t know many people but I was young, carefree and enjoying meeting new friends and having new experiences.
I met a man and fell for him in a big way. I fell in love; had a fun time, traveling for weekends away, going to clubs and bars. We both worked, he had started a career but I was still deciding what I wanted to be. I worked in cash jobs. Just enough to pay my way and live in the moment.
About 6 months into the relationship everything changed. I missed a period. I purchased a pregnancy test. It was positive. A forgotten pill. A life changing error.
My boyfriend was convinced the test was wrong. The doctor was sure it was right.
I was alone in a new city and scared. My strict Catholic upbringing and personal belief was that I had to have this baby. I didn’t believe in abortion for myself. I had always thought it was something for other people to worry about. Not me. I would never be in that situation.
My boyfriend did not want a baby. He was absolutely sure that we had to terminate.
He would not consider any other possibility.
I went back to the doctor and asked his opinion. He suggested we make an appointment at a pregnancy advice centre for counseling about what we should do. We went along after work one night.
The pregnancy advice centre was essentially a pro life organization in disguise. They told us having an abortion would increase my chance of breast cancer, infertility, death.
They showed us awful, terrible photos that they said were the product of termination. They said that I must have the baby, it was the only right thing to do.They pushed their cause blatantly. They confused a vulnerable young teenager even more.
We left. He was angry. I was shaking, upset, sad, confused.
The doctor apologized and said he had no idea the advice centre was like that. He seemed to want me to hurry up and make a decision.
Baby or abortion. That simple.
He didn’t seem bothered either way. He didn’t ask me if I had family or friends to talk to.
My boyfriend convinced me that it was the only thing to do.
We couldn’t be parents. We were too young. Not financially secure. Not together long enough. Not prepared.
I was booked in to a local private hospital for the procedure. It wasn’t an abortion clinic. My boyfriend was happy to pay for the anonymity this afforded.
We arrived. They explained that I would have a general anesthetic and they would dilate my cervix with rods, and then scrape and suction the contents of my uterus away and remove the pregnancy. I cried, cried and sobbed uncontrollably until I fell asleep. The nurses were professional but nothing more. I felt that they were judging me for my choice.
I woke up, sat and had a cup of tea. I was given a leaflet explaining the after effects. I would have stomach cramps, bleeding for a couple of weeks. I was told to call my doctor if the pain was severe or the bleeding was getting heavier not lighter. I was sent home with my boyfriend to rest and get on with my life.