Elizabeth’s Story

I suspected that I was pregnant a few days before my period was due. I have always had a very regular menstrual cycle, including PMS. In late April during the week before my period was due my cramping, breast pain and tiredness was so severe that I knew something wasn’t right. I waited until the day after my period was due before taking a home pregnancy test, and wasn’t surprised when the test came back positive.

My boyfriend Michael and I had been friends for over a year, started dating in February and things became serious only in early April—a few weeks before I became pregnant. We were using condoms for birth control and surprisingly (or not, I suppose) we never had a problem with their use. We never had a condom break or slip off…just really unlucky I suppose.

Michael took the news very well, though was of course in shock. We are both in our 30s (me early, he late) and established professionally. We discussed that evening how having a baby would affect our lives and our relationship. We agreed that we would spend a two days with the mindset that we would proceed with the pregnancy, and then two days with the mindset that we would seek an abortion. After then we would agree a decision.

What made the decision for me was that I am an American living in a foreign country. Michael was born and raised here. He asked me if we were to have the baby and didn’t work out as a couple, would I return to the states where my family and longtime friends live. Without hesitation I responded that I would. The look on his face brought to light how massive this decision was…I would never restrict Michael’s access to his child, or the child’s access to its father, and yet I wasn’t prepared to forego my family and their safety net should I find myself a single mother. That made the decision clear to me and Michael was nothing short of 100% supportive.

I can’t deny that we could have supported and raised a child, but I do believe that it would have ended our relationship. We love each other, but I know that would have been too much pressure too early on…for both of us.

Abortion is illegal in the country where we live, and it’s only became legal within the past 10 years or so for women to travel to a neighboring country for abortions. While hardly insurmountable, the hurdles that we had to jump through to realize the abortion were more difficult that the actual procedure. Government resources and referrals from my GP only led to strong pro-life information. I eventually abandoned their advice and did my own research. I quickly found a well known organization in the UK where the staff was so professional and caring that I was put at ease. Nevertheless, arranging for flights and accommodation, packing for the procedure and travelling at all hours of the morning and night carried the implication that what we were doing, the informed and highly personal decision that my partner and I made between the two of us, was somehow seen as wrong and, still yet, illegal in our home country. I know that I am a strong person and had the invaluable support of Michael, and yet I can imagine how a scared, young woman may feel bullied or resigned to keeping an unwanted child because of these barriers. And that makes me angry and sad.

The procedure was carried out quickly and without problem. I opted for conscious sedation and ended up sleeping through the procedure I was so exhausted. I have had minimal cramping and bleeding since then, nearly four days on now.

I have no regrets about our decision. I was considerably more emotional in the days leading up to our appointment, building up the procedure and after-effects in my mind. The only unfortunate outcome of our situation is how both Michael and I now regard the biased laws and accepted norms of our country. I am sad for young women here who must be shamed or scared into giving away their reproductive rights.