Clara’s Story

I’m 28 years old, and was with my boyfriend for just over a year. We split up 2 weeks before I found I was pregnant. We’d used different methods of contraception over the year, including the pill, condoms and even the morning after pill twice, but when the condom broke during our last time together we decided to take the risk rather than take the emergency contraceptive pill again, as i was aware it shouldn’t be used too often. A very stupid mistake.

I’d just moved to another country, and was settling in when I began to feel ill. Nauseous, exhausted, sick, dizzy… really run down. I was feeling incredibly stressed as I had a work deadline (I’m a freelancer) and I just couldn’t concentrate. I took a test a couple of days after I’d begun to expect my period and straight away it showed positive. My immediate reaction was one of horror and even disgust- this isn’t something I’m proud of. I’d never really imagined myself pregnant, although I had always thought about the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy, and now suddenly I was confronted with this idea of something inside me…. it just shocked and scared me completely.

I called my ex-boyfriend, crying, and although scared, he offered support whatever decision I chose. I then called a clinic in my home country to make an appointment. I knew I wanted an abortion as soon as possible. I emailed a friend to tell her what was going on, and to ask if I could stay whilst I went through the procedure. She was sympathetic, but incredibly patronising. As she’d just seen “Juno” she urged me to “think through the other options”. I think she was trying to be as level as possible, but was actually just making me feel harassed. I don’t need to be steered in any directions, particularly by someone whose main point of reference was a Hollywood fairy tale. I know my own mind, and I know my reasons are good ones.

I spent 3 days solid researching about pregnancy, abortion, embryonic development, and I knew that an abortion at this very early stage when my pregnancy was still relatively undeveloped was what I wanted for physical and mental reasons. During those 3 days my feelings changed from disgust to wonderment, and I considered keeping it… but rationally this was not an option for me. I would be a single mother, bringing up a child on benefits because as a freelancer I would not get maternity leave and pay, and without a support structure around me. I was forging a new life in a different country, and even if I’d returned to my home country, my parents were very old and sick, and didn’t live there anyway, and so could not provide me with any backup. My ex is also a freelancer in a creative industry, and earned next to nothing during the infrequent times he actually had a job. It had taken me the 4 years since I graduated from my Master’s Degree to get anywhere in my chosen field, and I was still living off a miniscule salary and scraping by.

In many ways I’d had a privileged upbringing, I went to one of the best Universities in my country, and graduated as one of the top students, but life afterwards had been stressful and difficult. My parents were good people, but not at all indulgent, and when i had problems finding work immediately (ANY kind of work! temping/barista…. not a specialist by any means) they had sat back and watched me struggle financially to such an extent that I could no longer pay rent, was made homeless and had to couch surf through my friend’s homes for a year! Life is incredibly hard, and can be incredibly cruel. I always knew that if I had a child I would want to be in an emotional and financial position to help, provide for it and protect it as much as possible. I thought about adoption. I have friends who were adopted. Many of them are happy, and many of them are a little lost and confused, and some are quite blatantly screwed up because of it…. there are millions more I’m not personally acquainted with who are or have been juggled through an abusive system that cares little for the individual…I refuse to bear and then give up a child to the possibility of that.

I had an early medical abortion (at 42 days) for free, through my home country’s national healthcare system, and it was very professional, caring and respectful. I had 4 appointments, and was offered counseling every step of the way. The worst part was the anticipation of the process you are about to undergo, but it actually amounted to little more than a heavy period with some feelings of nausea and bad cramps that can be controlled with Ibuprofen and Paracetamol. I felt relief, mixed with a little sadness, but no regret (apart from a desire to turn back time and to have taken that morning after pill). Not everyone should be a parent, but everyone should be free to choose to control their own life without being made to feel extra unnecessary guilt for a mistake they know they shouldn’t have made.