Sep 032010

My name is Jessica, I’m from the UK, and I am 25 years old. I have had one abortion, which was in spring 1997. I was 16 years old and I had been in a relationship with the ‘father’, who was 25 at the time, for a few weeks. I was quite unstable at that age, and I used to cut my arms, drink to excess, and other self-destructive behaviours.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was very undecided. I had pressure from both sides; my boyfriend wanted me to have the baby, and my mother wanted me to have an abortion. My mum said she would be supportive of my decision no matter what I chose, but she wanted me to live near her, so that she could help me. When I told my boyfriend this, he said he expected me to have the baby and to move in with him – he had no job and still lived with his mother, and was not prepared to change any of that.

It was when he said this that I finally realised there was only one real choice. He thought he could make me go through a whole pregnancy, and yet he was not prepared to alter his life at all. Faced with this selfishness, I realised there was no possible way I could have a child with him. What would he be like when the baby was crying? When it needed shoes and food? When he needed to put the child first, not himself? I would be raising a child alone, at the age of 16, and yet I would be tied for life to this man: it would be his child too. I decided to have an abortion.

My boyfriend came with me for the first appointment with the BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service), but when it came to the actual abortion, he phoned me the night before and said he couldn’t come with me, because he had just had his wisdom teeth taken out. If I had any last-minute qualms, that phone call just made me more certain I was making the right decision.

On the day, my mother took me to the clinic. First they checked me in to the ward, where I got changed into a hospital robe and waited for about 45 minutes. Then I was taken into the operating theatre and given a local anaesthetic. I woke up about 20 minutes later, back in the hospital bed. I wasn’t in pain, but they had put a pair of paper knickers on me as I was bleeding. The only aspect that upset me was that there wasn’t much care given to me after the abortion. On the table by the bed, they had left a packet of paracetamol and a form which said ‘Foetal parts seen’ and a tick in the box. I’m still not sure if I was supposed to see that or not. I was disappointed in them as I had this abortion privately (i.e. my parents paid for it), and I have since heard from friends who had theirs free on the NHS that they were treated much better than me.

After the abortion, my boyfriend didn’t even contact me to see how I was. I bled for a few days, and felt a little discomfort, but nothing serious. If I worried about anything, I phoned the BPAS and they were always very helpful and reassuring.

I feel that now 9 years has passed, I can honestly say that I’m not sorry. I made the right decision. I have never been haunted by it, suffered any kind of trauma, or regretted it for one moment. My life has improved immeasurably. I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks after the abortion, and a few months later I started going out with a friend of mine, a wonderful man who I am still with 8 and a half years later. I went back to sixth-form college that September, got my A-levels, and then went to university, where I got a B.A., an M.A., and have now nearly finished my PhD. I haven’t done anything self-destructive for years. I’ve learned a huge amount, made new friends, worked in a variety of interesting part-time jobs, and travelled as much as I can afford.

I now have so much more to offer a child if I have one in the future; I can give a child a decent start in life, two parents who will both love it, and who have life experience, maturity and education to draw on. I am still in touch (occasionally) with my boyfriend of the time; at the age of 34, he still lives with his mother and does not work. Every time I speak to him, I feel like I had an incredibly lucky escape. It would not have been fair to bring a child into the world in that situation, and it would not have had a happy life. I’m not sorry.

I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other women or young girls who are in this difficult situation, by telling the truth that sometimes abortion is the best choice for everyone involved.

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