Ximena’s Story

I am seventeen, and bipolar. I live in Peru, where abortion is illegal.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was desperate. My parents are pro choice, and my mom is a psychiatrist who has seen the devastating effect of unplanned children on women. She was going to take me to a trusted doctor to give me an abortion, but I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I had the help of womenonweb.org, a Dutch website that got me misoprostol and other meds to provide me a safe abortion.

I also went to a local herbal market, to buy some rue and wormwood. The woman at the stand, who was around her mid-thirties, somehow saw through me and asked me if I needed an abortion. She offered me her help, and gave me the exact recipe of an herbal tea that she had used 15 years ago. I looked at her and I realized that she must have been in a much more desperate situation, since she was very poor, and probably is between the 20% of our population who earns less than a dollar a day.

I took the herbal tea, and a few hours later I started having cramps. After a lot of bleeding and a really big clog coming out of me, took another pregnancy test (at a hospital), and I was not pregnant anymore.

I feel kind of sad for all the women in my country, who can’t always get the help they need to get through something like this, and go to fake doctors to take care of the problem, and they die sometimes. Others find themselves with a baby they can’t keep or support, and they end up in foster care in horrible conditions.

I am not sorry for what I did. In fact, knowing that there was a way to make my choice even if the laws of my country forbid it, was one of the most empowering situations in my life.