So today, 9th December, I should be giving birth, oh yes, you read that right.
In 2016, according to the government’s website, 190,406 women in England and Wales had an abortion, considering the population of England and Wales is 58,381,300, this only amounts to 0.3%.
There are many reasons as to why women chose this decision (bar the fact you know it’s their body, so it’s their choice) from financial stability, to the state of their relationship with their partner, their own mental state of mind and whether the child will be handicapped, the latter is the reason for 2% of abortions.
Along with the physical side effects of this decision, which can range from infection and damage to the womb, to infertility and even death, there can be severe mental health repercussions. In an Irish Times article. ‘Unwanted pregnancies linked to mental health risk’, Mark Hilliard stipulates that for some women there is an increased risk of mental health problems after an abortion. This can range from extreme guilt and depression.
Conversely, quoting Professor Anthony McCarthy, a consultant psychiatrist at the National Maternity Hospital, other women do not suffer these emotions as they know that they ‘cannot continue the pregnancy, she cannot cope and continuing the pregnancy would destroy her life.’
My friend was nearly four months gone when she found out. She was only 18 and in her final year of college, and passing her driving test did not mean she was now a ‘qualified adult’. When she first found out, to quote, ‘it f*cked me up, I wrote letters for the child, it was my way of dealing with it. I still think about it now. Not because I feel guilty about my decision, I know I made the right one, but more because what if this was my only shot.’
I found out I was pregnant three weeks before my first-year exams. I won’t lie, I have never been so terrified in my life. It’d been a worry brewing in my head for about a week, but I thought ‘no this won’t happen to me, I mean he wore a condom!’ (yeah turns out those f*ckers break – no lads, this has no reflection on your humongous cocks).
I’d noticed my nipples were constantly like bullets and I’d rapidly gained weight – I mean that was probably partially attributed to my chicken nugget addiction. I borrowed my friend’s pregnancy test, obviously unused, I’m not an animal, and sat in her hall’s toilets waiting for the result.
As I saw those two lines appear, my heart dropped. I broke down.
I was scared, because I was a 19-year-old student who barely managed to put clean socks on in the morning, let alone potentially have a miniature human relying on me to survive. How, and would, I tell my parents? How the f*ck would I do my exams with this hanging over my head?
I was angry at how I had been so stupid as to get myself into this situation.
I was sad, because I knew my only option was to have an abortion.
I called my best friend straight away, I was one hot mess. Then I had to journey down the stairs and tell my boyfriend. We’d only been together five months, it was clear we weren’t in a secure enough place to consider having a baby. Once that was over, I went home, I stayed at my friend’s house for three days without my parents knowing, needing a couple of days to process everything.
I managed to get a consultation appointment within five days, I travelled to the Bournemouth bpas clinic and had, what I can only describe as an alien probing device, put into my lady garden for my scan to see how far gone I was.
It was crap, and sounds a bit tragic, but during the ultrasound I just kept thinking, ‘this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.’ For most women their first scan is exciting and full of hope about the human growing inside them. They asked if I wanted to see the screen, I couldn’t, I knew if I saw it then this whole thing would become a million times harder than it already was.
Somehow, I was able to have my abortion two days later, which, for some women, can be weeks between the initial consultation and the actual procedure. I had a medical abortion. This is what is available to women under ten weeks, and accounts for 81% of abortions. It involved sticking three tablets up my fanny, which wasn’t the most comfortable experience of my life.
To date, it was the most painful experience of my life. The nurse warned me the process could take between four and eight hours, a bit like waiting for a Pretty Little Thing delivery. Mine lasted 13 hours, plus a further two weeks of intense bleeding and pain.
I screamed, I cried, I threw up. My stepmum tried to be there for me, but she had no idea what to do, I mean who would? And as I took the tablets in the evening, by midnight she was passed out. So, I spent the remaining five hours alone. I eventually collapsed from pure exhaustion at 5am watching Hancock.
Ok, so what’s the point of me sharing this pretty personal story?
For starters, I just wanted to air my bloody sheets, pardon the pun, in the open, to humanise the topic. A lot of women still feel ashamed or frightened to admit they have made this decision. Despite being legal since 1967, stigma and judgement still surround the issue. There is the constant battle of Pro Life vs Pro Choice. Certain people who had no right to be involved in the situation denounced me as selfish, reckless and that I deserved to live with my actions.
Even worse, there are sick c*nts who protest outside the clinics, I have no issue with people being Pro Life, but I find it disgusting that some feel the need to heckle and abuse women who they do not know. What sickens me is that these protests are so prolific that each clinic has a sign warning the women to ignore the jibes, no the sign should say ‘f*ck off ignorant arseholes, this has nothing to do with you.’
Thankfully, action is being taken against this offensive behaviour. The West London borough of Ealing has banned protests outside its Marie Stopes centre. This policy will end the years of demonstrations led by the Catholic group, Good Counsel Network, who held daily vigils outside, giving out teddy bears and calling the women “mum” – I genuinely have no words for this kind of behaviour, well actually I have several, but I think the column would be taken down if I used them.
If whilst at QM, you find out that you’re pregnant there are lots of support available: you can receive assistance from the Advice & Counselling services, or go to your Academic Advisor about missing uni, getting extensions or taking time out, and QM have a page dedicated to numbers to call when in this situation (https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/emotional-wellbeing/self-help-resources-and-workshops/common-problems/pregnancy). My only criticism is that I was in no fit state to sit my exams to the best of my ability, however as QM has a fit to sit policy, there was no way I could have ‘special circumstances’ written in my paper. My choices were, sit the exams then and there or in August with those resitting.
Abortion is, and will always be, a personal decision which thousands of women make every year. So, if when you find out you feel like everything is descending into chaos, and your world is ending, breathe, it’s going to be ok, but also let your emotions out. Don’t feel like you need to act strong or brave, its f*cking terrifying, its ok to cry and scream. And most importantly, do not be ashamed, people make mistakes, you are not a bad person for caring about yourself.