Lily’s Story

I had an abortion in January 2004. I was 28 years old. I had been sexually active since I was 17, but thanks to careful use of condoms and oral contraceptives, had not had a pregnancy before that date. In 2003, however, I had to stop using oral contraceptives because they were causing severe fatigue and mood swings.

Certain I did not want children, I spoke to a gynaecologist in mid 2003 about sterilisation. Because of my age, he put me off, suggesting I wait until I turned 30, and instead made an appointment to insert an IUD in early 2004. Due to the fact that I had never given birth, I had to have the IUD inserted under general anaesthetic, which meant subject to hospital theatre waiting lists. (The one hospital without a waiting list was Catholic, and would not support IUD insertion).

In between consulting the gynaecologist about sterilisation and the first appointment available to have the IUD inserted, a condom slipped off, and I became pregnant.

The first thing I noticed was the severe nausea, then the nipple tenderness. I did a pregnancy test on a Monday morning. That Monday lunch time I opened the Yellow Pages, and called the two clinics providing abortions in my area.

I have always believed that I made the choice not to have children when I made the decision to use contraception. As far as I was concerned, contraceptive failure – an accident – in no way affected that choice.

One clinic would not do the pre-termination check and the abortion on the same day, so I booked with the other clinic. I was certain of my decision and did not want anyone trying to change my mind.

The first appointment time I could get was Saturday. I did not tell my boyfriend about my pregnancy until the Saturday, partly because I did not want him to get upset and stressed and partly because I felt it was my decision alone.

I decided I wanted him with me on the Saturday though, and told him. He was stressed, and initially upset that I hadn’t consulted him, but after he cried a little, he agreed that I had made the right decision.

We caught a taxi to the clinic, my boyfriend holding my hand in case I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous. I was more worried about how he felt. I had always known I didn’t want kids. He was scared the clinic would make me look at gory photos or otherwise try to punish me.

We stepped into the clinic, and the receptionist was lovely. There were a few other couples waiting in the reception area. I was given a checklist to fill in about my reasons for my decision, and paid the $300 gap between the Government/Health Fund rebate and the cost of the service.

After about a half hour wait, I was called by a lovely doctor. She checked the stage of my pregnancy (6 weeks) by ultrasound and confirmed my decision. At all times she was utterly respectful and professional and did not try to change my mind in any way. She gave me a sheet of aftercare instructions and ran through them thoroughly.

I changed into a white cotton gown, was introduced to the anaethatist (also female), and was put under. I woke up, and was ushered out a little faster than I would have liked. It was getting late in the afternoon. I caught a taxi home with my boyfriend.

I had quite a bit more cramping pain for the next few days than I had been told to expect, and I did find the doctor a little unsympathetic when I called her about it, considering how friendly and respectful she’d been at our consult. On the other hand, she answered my call at 7pm on Monday night on her mobile, after she’d left the clinic, which was impressive.

I took painkillers and ponstan for the cramps. After about three or four days, the cramps cleared up.

Did I make the right decision? Absolutely. I never had any doubts or regrets. I was in a delicate part of both my career and my relationship, and a pregnancy could have ended both. I knew that I had neither the financial, social or personal resources to support a child. Neither did I want to. I had made the decision many years ago not to have children, and had asked a gynaecologist to sterilise me several months before the pregnancy.

That I had not been able to get the sterilisation, and had become pregnant due to condom failure while waiting for an IUD did not affect my determination not to be a parent.

Would I do it again? I’ve had the sterilisation now, so my chance of pregnancy is very low. But if I did become pregnant again, despite the tubal ligation, I would pick up the phone and book an abortion as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test in my hand.