Right now everything feels a little heavy. The truth is I am so so sad for women. Not just in Alabama, not just in Northern Ireland- but everywhere. I’m sure anyone in that position, having to carry a child they weren’t sure they wanted feels the same weight that I do. Having the choice stripped away from them. My experiences with pregnancy, abortion and big life decisions may not be universal, but I am positive that it’s something all too common. Around this time last year, I found out that I was pregnant. I
was in university in England, and my boyfriend of 3 months was at home, in Northern Ireland. I remember feeling like my heart had stopped, followed by this horrific feeling of panic. Because in my head we had done everything right. And it couldn’t have made sense that I was pregnant. I remember processing and running to my flatmates room at 6am and just sobbing. I remember not being able to breathe, but still trying to make sense of this little plus sign on a pee stick.
Days after that were hard. I had told my boyfriend that morning, and we had a very brief conversation in which we decided to terminate the pregnancy. The same day, I went to the university GP- and they helped me book an appointment at the closest abortion clinic for two weeks time. And that was that. The wave of relief in knowing that I had a choice, that I could still have the life I had planned was comforting. Knowing that I had the option to not have to become a mother against my will was comforting.
I never really gave myself a chance to really process things before making a decision. And I’m very very glad the clinics A) give you time to think about everything, so you can actually make an informed decision and B) they exist in the first place. Days after that, I was considering and reconsidering what it would mean to be a parent- the viability of the whole thing. Do I want to become a mother? Would I have support from my family? What about my boyfriend and his family? Do I want to spend nine months of my life growing a small human inside of me? Does that even mean that my body is mine anymore? Do I want to have to give birth? Could I love a child that I never wanted?
I guess I was reeling from the whole thing. It’s a hard truth, but if I were not given any option, and I was forced to carry a child that I was not ready for- the resentment I would hold toward them would have been so much. The truth is I don’t think I could love a child the way they deserve if I was forced to have them. While being in university was an incredibly unfortunate time to find out about my pregnancy, on the other end of things, if I had been at home when I found out, I wouldn’t have been granted the option.
I would rather not have a child at all than have one that I could never love with everything I have.
After a lot of tough conversations, we decided to follow through with the pregnancy. Less than a week later, I was a uni dropout and had moved home. I felt like as soon the plane had landed, I had waived my rights to an abortion, therefore condemning myself to a life that I never asked for. The decision I made was not a throw away decision, it was a life decision. Parents traditionally do not outlive their children. Once you decide to have a child, you are choosing to have a child for the rest of your life. Understanding that it is an incredibly difficult decision to make, nobody had any real pull in that decision except for me. Not my boyfriend, not my family, and not the miniscule growing bundle of cells in my womb.
My son is now almost seven months old. I love him with every single part of me. But I had the right to choose- and so should every other person that can carry children. I could never imagine my life without him now, and I am so so excited for his future- but if I know deep down that if I had to involuntarily carry him to term, I couldn’t love him the way I do now. Solely having the choice, gave me the option to think about what I want, as opposed to showing me that I may have not had any way out if I needed it. Making the realisation that I wanted to be a mother was a good choice for me, and I’m in a place where I’m happy. But that doesn’t mean that every person in my position would want to make the same choice, nor should they have to.
I have read a lot of things saying that women who fall pregnant through incest or rape should be able to access abortion. Completely right, they do. But so should women who simply do not want to have children.
Everything I’ve written is solely my experience with pregnancy, abortion, and choice. I know I’m only scratching the surface of a deeply complex narrative- but in short, being able to decide what we do with our bodies should be a right, not a privilege.