I’ve had two abortions and I don’t regret either of them.
Does that sound defensive? I don’t mean for it to. But there’s this unwritten rule about admitting you’ve had an abortion and it’s that you have to say you’re really sad about them.
I’m not, though, and I think it’s important to say that to balance out the prevailing message we always get that abortion is a tragedy and will leave you sad and guilty forever.
I don’t agree with that. Abortion can be a positive thing if it means an unwanted child is not brought into the world. It can also be a positive thing if it means a woman’s life is not derailed into poverty, depression and a dramatic limiting of the opportunities available to her.
Safe, legal, rare.
I’m totally on board with that philosophy for abortions and I’d like to add one more word, well two: sometimes necessary.
Neither of my abortions, it could be argued, were strictly ‘necessary’. I was young, yes. Eighteen the first time and 22 the second time. But choosing to proceed with those pregnancies would not have endangered my life. They would have wrecked it though. Not just because I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do back then but because the men I was pregnant to were utter knobs.
Thinking back on those relationships now that I’m in my 30s in a loving relationship and a mother of a little girl, I shudder involuntarily at the thought of being shackled to either of those idiots by virtue of a wayward sperm. You’re not a very good judge of character when you’re young, at least I wasn’t.
They say you learn more from your bad relationships than your good ones and I learned many important things from those two guys. I learned I didn’t want to be with a drug addict. I learned I didn’t want to be with someone who cheated on me. I learned I didn’t want to be with someone who was so insecure, he needed a very weak woman to make him feel like a man.
But back to the abortions. When I first fell pregnant, the first time, I suddenly felt very grown up. The weight of the decision I had to make felt impossibly adult and heavy in my hand. I knew deep down immediately what I would do but I still tried on the possibility of keeping the pregnancy and becoming a mother in the same way I used to try on my own mother’s high heels when I was a little girl and clomp around the house.
Except the clomping in this case was inside my head and involved a bit of a visual blank about what it would be like to have an actual baby when I still lived at home, had just finished school and was about to start my teaching degree at TAFE.
The second time it happened (I know you’re wondering how so I’ll tell you: the first time the condom broke, the second time it was withdrawal gone wrong – we thought he’d pulled out in time but it turns out not….), was much the same. Thought I was in love but suspected I may have just been in love with the idea of being in love rather than the actual guy.
Listen: Trump and abortion…
Both times, the week or so between weeing on the stick and making the appointment to have a termination were a tense time for the guys I was with. Their future depended on my decision for better or worse. While I imagined feeling hormonal changes in my body (probably imaginary because it was so early) and fantasised about being a young, cool mum with a cute baby on my hip, having it all, they were undoubtedly terrified. No guy wants to be a Dad when they’re a teenager or in their early 20s. Not any guy I’ve ever met anyway.