I've had an abortion. It was not a medical necessity, nor was it enforced by a terrible circumstance. It was a choice that I made because I was young, in my first ever job, living at home, and in no way mature enough to raise a child.
There I said it; not many women do. But, when one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, why are most too scared to come out of the abortion closet?
When Big Brother wannabe, Josie Cunningham, announced she would have an abortion as another child would hinder her career (although, she later rescinded the decision) the web filled with vitriol towards her. Comments including "someone needs to throw acid on you" avalanched at her, as though a women's right to have control over her body is not enshrined in law.
One may not like nor agree with Ms Cunningham's lifestyle, but I applaud her honesty in her reason for an abortion. Most feel the need to pretend that the pregnancy never even existed, or that that an abortion was needed due to some extraneous circumstance. All because they're fearful of receiving the types of messages that Ms Cunningham did - hate filled personal messages from total strangers.
Having an abortion due to our career, financial constraints, having a family already or just not being ready is often not considered a 'good enough' reason in the public sphere. We need a tragic justification for abortion; and even then we mustn't admit to it.
Whilst making the short film, Break the Taboo, one contributor spoke off camera to me about how, when a woman has an abortion, she has to whisper it in an ashamed manner "as though she had cancer" as the stigma is so rife.
A woman having an abortion is considered to be a cold and heartless whore unless she regrets and apologizes for it.
The truth is the majority of women don't regret it - I certainly don't. I knew straight away that I would have an abortion and I've never looked back with remorse. Sometimes you have to make the least-worst choice out of a bad bunch of options.
When we decide to abort, we don't just rock up to the nearest Marie Stopes at lunchtime and then stroll back to work pregnant-free one hour later munching a Pret a Manger sandwich, ready to tackle our To Do list. It takes time. It takes a lot of thinking. It takes various consultations with different medical staff. It takes compulsory counselling, and it takes scans and (sometimes unnecessary) invasive vaginal procedures.
Couple that stress with the physical symptoms of pregnancy - vomiting, tiredness, dizzy spells - and add the prospect of a Grand Canyon-esqe dash of vitriol a la Josie Cunningham, and it's no wonder most women don't want to come out of the abortion closet. As a result they end up suffering alone and pretending everything's OK whilst they struggle into work day-after-day.
91% of women who have an abortion do so under thirteen weeks. Like the women in this film the majority of us chose an abortion not due to some tragic foetal abnormality, not because of rape, and not because our life is in danger. Our stories are neither exciting nor dramatic; they are every day. They are ordinary.
In Break the Taboo, mother of two Olivia, believes that motherhood does not stop at giving birth. It's being able to care for her children to the best of her ability for the rest of their lives. Another child would compromise that.
Off camera, Ann spoke of the burden of care on the mother to raise the children being an issue that women around the world need support on. Without support, she would have struggled to raise more children. She was close to the edge already.
Pregnancy brings up a lot of questions about the mother, her current children, her partner and anyone close by. It's not something that she goes into lightly and bears many practical implications that affect her entire life.
I am not ashamed of my abortion as it was the right decision at the time. If that's selfish, I'm fine with that; and so are the majority of those one in three women.
With abortion being an everyday occurrence, instead of being a polarized Whore/ Murderer versus Virgin/ Madonna debate isn't it about time we shake of the stigma and speak of the practicalities of abortion more rationally?
Join me and come out of the Abortion Closet at: Facebook/breaktaboo