I recently wrote about my experiences for the digital 'zine Subsex www.tinyletter.com/SUBSEX
I had an abortion. Words that come out of my mouth more than saying my own name. I love talking about my abortion, I love talking about abortion in general. Everything about it fascinates me!
I got pregnant on New Years Eve 2016, started the year off with a bang if you will…
Found out I was pregnant on the 4th March.
Had a medical abortion 17th March.
Got an infection.
Go to the doctors.
Go back to the doctors.
First abortion has “not technically worked.”
I’m still classed as pregnant.
Second abortion May 20th.
Except for the fact the first failed abortion may have caused me to not be able to have kids in the future, but let us cross that bridge when we need to.
I love my abortion, it was the best decision I ever made. Knowing what I know now about how fucked up mine was, I’d still do it all again, because that is my choice.
When I was pregnant I went searching all over the internet for stories of other people having an abortion. I didn’t want medical talk or doctors giving advice. I wanted another young girl telling me what will happen, how she felt, how it really worked. There was nothing. I found a lot of what I assume are fake websites with hundreds of women talking about how they had abortions and now hugely regret them. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there are a lot of women who have regretted their choice. But you’re telling me on the whole of the internet there wasn’t 1 person who didn’t? Not 1 person who could share their story happily and confidently? I do not think so.
Abortion is a lot more common than people think. 1 in 3 women in the UK experience abortion and I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t clench up when I mention mine. I’m really fucking proud of myself for getting through all the shit that came with my abortion, the shitty boyfriend, the bleeding, the hormones, the hatred of sex and a lot more bleeding. Why do we not talk about it? Why do we try to hide this huge thing that happened to us? Because we’re expected to. Most people’s auto response when I mentioned my abortion is a look of sympathy and a look of dread that I must be about to have an emotional break down, I just wanna talk about it like its normal. It is normal. If I had the flu I’d talk about it, I got something that I didn’t want in my body removed, literally as simple as that. I’ve also had moles removed but people don’t go weird around that (well some people do actually but fuck them too.)
I can understand why women don’t want to share their abortions, I’m sure for a lot of people it's tough and emotional, a difficult choice to do. In some places it’s not legal to have one, having to travel miles into different countries to access healthcare, and then not being able to talk about it with anyone with fear of being arrested or worse . I do not want to make women feel bad for not shouting about their abortions, which is why I want to shout louder about mine, make people feel more comfortable about them. I can’t expect people’s views of abortion to change and stop being awkward if I’m not doing the same. I talk about it, I joke about it, I still sometimes get upset about it, but I did it and I’d do it again.
There is an organisation called 40 Days for Life. Essentially they’re an anti-abortion group, I do not use the phrase pro-life as typically they’re not. They’re not pro-life of the girl, her wants or what circumstances got her to the position of wanting an abortion and they certainly don’t care once the baby they’ve “saved” is born, at a vigil a few weeks ago a Mother of somebody using the clinic came out and said to them “I hope you all foster children you hypocritical morons.” They stand outside abortion clinics for 40 days, trying to stop women from entering. When I’ve spoken about this before I’ve had the classic “free speech, you can’t stop someone from saying something just because it offends you.” Free speech is often an argument used to try and justify people’s want to say whatever they please. Free speech does not mean you can say whatever you like, whenever you like without consequences, something a lot of people seem incapable of understanding. If I stood on the side of the road shouting hate speech I would expect to be arrested, so why should people (mainly men over the age of 60) be able to shout, intimidate and assault women just trying to access legal healthcare?
This is why the buffer zones has been introduced. A legal safe zone around abortion clinics, in which people cannot confront people using the service. Most of the 40 Day for Life vigils include prayers, leaflets, accusations of murder and being condemned to hell. A bigger reason the safe zones have been introduced is due to physical attacks on patience and workers. I recently spoke to a professor from Aston University who has studied the 40 Dayers for years, she’s given me some details about the physical attacks that happen. The most common attack seems to be spitting, spitting on somebody who is going in to have a medical procedure, spitting on people just trying to do their jobs, physically attacking somebody for doing something you don’t agree with. Can you imagine if everyone acted like this? Let alone women just trying to do something they feel is right for them, or even in worst scenarios in which the woman has been raped, or assaulted or told that for her own safety she can’t carry a child, you’re going to a clinic to do something you wish you didn’t have to do to be met with somebody calling you a murderer and spitting in your face.
Another attack she spoke about was directed to one of the workers in the clinic, she finished her shift and got followed by a man into a supermarket. He stalked her around the aisles and finally punched her in the face, for going to work and doing her job. Thankfully that assault did lead to prosecution, but for other women who do get assaulted when going into clinics the trouble and hurt that is involved in a trial brings up the emotions of the abortion which is something that is easier just left to be forgotten about, or maybe they don’t want the knowledge of their abortion being made public? They’ve been assaulted and harassed and now have to tell the world about their medical choices, something that could be avoided all together.
A positive to come from this is groups like SisterSupporter. Being a part of this group we maintain a counter presence outside of the clinics - with support from the clinic and the staff. When working a shift this includes accompanying women to and from the clinic, blocking the 40 Dayers from being able to go up to the clinic users and just generally being a supportive presence in the face of anti-abortionists. There are SisterSupporter groups in London and Manchester who are always happy to have new members and if you would like to create your own group please let me know and I can pass on your details to the right people.
I want to make abortions so much more common to talk about so if something does go wrong - the abortion itself, harassment, assault around the clinics, poor aftercare or anything else negative happens women aren’t afraid or ashamed to talk about it, they can know there is a network of supportive people around them.
I would recommend to anybody who has had an experience with abortion (female or male) to write out the process of what happened, their emotions, the physical effects, people’s reactions, all of it, any of it. It’s a relief to get it all out, no one needs to read, burn it! Shred it! Recycle it.. Put it online for other people to read, send it just to me, send it to your boyfriend, your ex, your Mum, your neighbour. Do anything that makes you feel good about yourself.
When I made my dissertation film about my abortion a lot of people told me I was brave, I really couldn’t see that, I still can’t. I am however really proud of my abortion and really fucking proud of myself then and even more now.
If you have an abortion story you’d like to share I would love to hear from you! Or anybody wants questions answered truthfully there isn’t a question I wouldn’t feel happy to talk about!