I had an abortion when I was 19 years old. I was in a relationship with someone 12 years older than me. At the time I think I understood very little about sex, but it was all new, exciting, and pushed away all my barriers.
“Having support from the women in my family made me realize there is nothing to be ashamed of.”
I was preparing to move to London as I had been accepted to study at a prestigious and highly selective university. It was something I wanted to throw myself into and make the absolute most of it.
The day before I was to fly out, I had a strong instinct that something had shifted in my body. I was with my friends and I bought a home pregnancy test. It came up positive and all I could do was cry. I told the guy I was with and there was nothing he could do as I was flying out, but he was supportive in whatever way he could be.
I was with my mum as she was coming over with me to help me set up my new life abroad. We were waiting to board the plane and I said, “there is something I need to tell you,” and she just picked it and knew. I was lucky enough to be stopping off at my mum’s family in Denmark first before heading to London. There I had support from my grandmother and aunt as well.
Before flying off I was adamant that no one would find out; I was unbearably ashamed and had an immense feeling of guilt. Having support from these women in my family made me realize there is nothing to be ashamed of, and at no point did they judge me. It was fortunately very straightforward and was over before I could even process I was pregnant in the first place.
I think I am extremely lucky to have had that support. I believe that all women going through this need to have support that is equally understanding and nonjudgmental. It’s a horrible position to be put into and to have critical attitudes from close surroundings and society can be extremely damaging.
Looking back on it if I did not have access to an abortion, I would not have had the opportunity to study when I had the chance to. I do not regret having an abortion in the slightest; I knew that was the case as soon as I found out. I only regret being put in the position in the first place. Four years on I still feel how having an abortion has affected me. I lost all respect for my sense of judgment; I wasn’t sure if I was even making the right decisions for myself and lost a lot of self-confidence.
Education is everything. I do believe I was not educated enough in the consequences of sex and knowing how easy it is to fall pregnant. In my family it wasn’t a topic that ever came up. Later I asked my mum why she didn’t warn me, and her response was that I thought that your school discussed it with you.
Safe sex needs to become a casual topic where things can be discussed openly without shame or judgment. We’re all human. Men and women bear equal responsibility. The man I was with took no responsibility and responded by saying “I thought you were on the pill” when I told him I was pregnant. It’s unacceptable.
We need to be educated and to freely talk. I think that would have made all the difference to me at the time.