A kindhearted soul once proclaimed, 'A problem shared is a problem halved' but in today's society, sharing your desire to not proceed with a pregnancy is an uncomfortably taboo one.
When it comes to creating the beginnings of a life and then permanently halting it, friends, family, partners and society have a strong opinion on that and they will make it well known. From protesters screeching their disgust at women outside abortion clinics, religion making it clear what you can and can't do, and some countries refusing access to any services whatsoever, women are living in a tough modern world. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The stigma attached to it leads to a secretive, painful and scolding weight of shame that society is wrapping around many women's necks. All of this, without even considering a woman's personal circumstances, how she got pregnant in the first place and why going ahead with the pregnancy may not be the best option.
When I was nineteen, I was sexually assaulted. Believing in justice, honesty, respect, equality and fairness, I went straight to the police station, gave my statement, gave up my body to be examined for evidence and stuck to my guns because I didn't want it to happen to any other woman. The case never went to court due to a 'lack of evidence'. The whole process was a nightmare and I thankfully never fell pregnant but I spoke out about it because I believe in standing up for myself and others.
Ten years later, I got pregnant whilst travelling Thailand. With it being illegal there, I rushed to Cambodia, took the abortion pill and carried on as normal. Three months after the ordeal, my emotions began to bubble to the surface and it began to hit me what had really happened. With my mental processing kicking in, I did what I thought was right. I spoke out again. I told my Mum. I told my friends. I told people I loved, trusted and respected. The response was an atomic bomb of love, hate, empathy, disgust, confusion and judgement. 'How could you do that to yourself?', 'You weren't careful', 'You give solo female travelers a bad name'. Many didn't take a minute to ask what had actually happened. I was seeing a guy who I knew. We respected each other. We used protection. It didn't work. We were unlucky.
I'm grateful that did happen to me. Other women can fall pregnant through disturbing circumstances where they are powerless to protect themselves. I count my blessings every day that I had the resources, support and income to be able to go through with my termination. Many women do not have that choice.
Two years after revealing my pregnancy to others, I decided to start my travel blog, Teacake Travels. From the beginning, I've written honest, open and empowering articles for women. It made absolute sense that I should write about my pregnancy experience in Asia and as the article progressed, I knew I had to make something good come from this difficult time. The post contains a resource of abortion laws and services in Asia. It is updated regularly and has received a tremendous amount of support from both men and women. Unsurprisingly, it has also received a good amount of backlash and the arguments for and against what I have done have increased rapidly since the resource has been published on mainstream sites.
In particular, falling pregnant at the age of 29, many believe I was selfish to not have the baby. This becomes even harder when I have friends who are desperate to have a child, putting a lot of money, time and effort into achieving their dream. Is it my dream? Absolutely not. I love children but I don't want children. Men can make this choice. I want to be able to make this choice too.
Whilst it's encouraging that this information is getting out there, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm shaking in my boots. I'm a tough cookie but it's scary to stand up and admit to others who don't know you what has happened.
Regardless, just like me at the age of 19, I know that I've done the right thing and I'm sticking to my guns. I don't regret my decision and I will continue to stand up for women seeking abortion services. I want to encourage women to end their silence, speak up for themselves and encourage a personal and compassionate conversation in society about abortion. It's your body. It's your life. Do not feel ashamed. Help is out there and there are others out there who will support you.