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I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant. I had just qualified as a teacher but was yet to find my first teaching position. My partner had a decent job but he was recovering from a prolonged period of severe depression and while he lived with his elderly mother, I was caring for my grandmother who had been diagnosed with a degenerative illness. Although we were very much in love and hoped to have children one day, our finances and living arrangements meant we were not equipped to raise a child. We would want to give our children the very best possible start in life and, at that time, we didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

Being pregnant was difficult and I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotions. I felt ill and tired all the time. Having told only my partner and best friend, it was incredibly isolating. I was increasingly aware that there was a human growing inside me and every fibre of my body held some maternal instinct to protect it at all costs. My partner told me that we could make it work, we could find a way, but I knew there was no choice really. The thought of going through with the abortion terrified me, but the prospect of raising a child was even worse. I never doubted my decision.

Neither myself nor my partner could drive, so we took the train to the clinic. It was a confusing, overwhelming experience in which I was taken aback by the disinterest of the staff. Only one nurse seemed to really care for my wellbeing and she wiped away my tears. When I woke up, I was crying. Sitting on a hard wooden seat afterwards, eating a dry sandwich and reflecting on the insensitivity of having children’s programmes playing on the television, I couldn’t quite believe I’d been through this. I was packed off down the steep stairs alone to stumble my way to the waiting room where my partner sat. On the rush hour train home, I lay across three seats, in too much pain and confusion to care about the standing commuters. Nobody asked me to move.

The next day, it felt like a weight had been lifted. I no longer felt sick and tired. My hormonal instincts to protect this unborn child had vanished and I was completely at peace with my decision. It’s now been six years and I have never regretted it. A lot of the time I forget I’ve even had an abortion. I know I made the right choice, not only for myself but also for the child. I couldn’t have offered them the quality of life they would deserve.

My only difficulty is how taboo the subject is. I’ve only told four people. Not even my oldest friend knows. It makes me wonder how many other people I know who have had an abortion but never mentioned it. I wish I could share my story more openly and help break down the taboo but I fear the prejudice of stigma. Maybe if we were all honest about our experiences, that would change.

I’m not ashamed. I don’t regret it. But I’m not brave enough to put myself forward just yet.

(posted from USA)

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