I’m 35 now, but when I was 18, I got pregnant. It wasn’t planned and the father didn’t want me to keep the baby. I was still living at home, still in education and definitely not emotionally, or financially ready to become a mum. After much thought and after speaking to a counsellor, I decided to go ahead with the termination when I was eight weeks pregnant.
Until this week, my abortion wasn’t something I discussed with many people. I could count on one hand the people who knew about it until yesterday morning. Everything happening in America right now (and Northern Ireland recently) has made me angry. Angry that so many women are being painted as selfish, and even murderers by some people. Yesterday, I saw Jameela Jamil’s tweets about not regretting her abortion – they made me realise it was time to discuss my own experiences, and why I am pro-choice.
I didn’t terminate my pregnancy because the timing was off, or because it was inconvenient. I made this decision because I knew I’d end up stuck in the cycle of relying on the welfare system to raise my child. A cycle I had grown up in, where it was common to have no heating most of winter. I had always been determined to work hard, get a decent job and break that cycle. Essentially, I knew I wouldn’t cope alone with a baby – I was barely an adult myself.
Back then, I was studying and earning £80 a week and living with my parents. It wasn’t enough money to support me, never mind a baby too. Definitely not enough to raise a baby alone. So I made what was probably one of the hardest decisions in my life, and had an abortion.
While I don’t regret my choice, I do sometimes wonder where life would have taken us, had I made a different decision. Despite keeping it from my parents, and keeping it quiet until now, I’m not ashamed of my abortion. No doubt some of my friends and family members will see this and be shocked as they had no idea.
I am sure my parents would have supported me if I’d continued with the pregnancy. But I did what was right for me, not them.
I find it horrific that legislators in America are making this decision on behalf of all their citizens, without even putting it to the public vote similar to Northern Ireland last year. It is still illegal to have an abortion in any part of Ireland, and so many citizens head to England, Scotland or Wales to terminate their pregnancies.
Personally, I feel that it is utterly barbaric to force women to bring a baby into this world which they can’t take care of. What happens if the mother has mental health issues? Or if she can’t afford to feed, clothe or support the child? The baby will end up, “in the system”. The same system, which is stretched to breaking point in both America and here the UK. Don’t even get me started on the women who are victims of rape, or who are in abusive relationships – America doesn’t seem to care what kind of situation children are born into, just as long as they are born.
Surely it makes more sense for a woman to make the difficult choice to end her pregnancy than to force her to go through with it? What will the impact of that be on the woman’s mental health? Each woman should be able to decide what is right for her – and make the call without fear of prosecution or judgement.
If you’re reading this and planning on leaving a comment calling me a murderer, or bring God into the conversation, let me stop you there. If you are pregnant and weighing up your options, rest assured that although it was a tough decision to make, I’m not ashamed of my abortion and I don’t regret my choice.
An earlier version of this piece was first published on Tina’s blog, girlsgospel.com, and can be read here