Zara’s Story

My experience not only came with the difficulties of having an abortion in general, but also with a cross cultural and language barrier. I recently moved to Japan to teach English and live in a very, very rural area in Japan.

I found out I was pregnant, about 5 weeks into it, when my body was telling me “you’re pregnant.” I went and got a pregnancy test, which was difficult because they are all in Japanese (and I can barely speak a few words in the language, never mind reading the 3 alphabets!).

I finally found one that had a system that was easy to recognize whether the result was positive or negative. I went home, and faced the fact that I was pregnant.

I immediately called my partner who was across the world working and living in the Middle East. Fortunately he was very supportive of my decision to get an abortion. We both decided that we weren’t ready to have a child together (I’m 23).

The only difficulty came with….ok, how in the world am I going to make this happen? I knew that abortions were legal in Japan, but that’s about it. I went over to the local café owner and told her, she barely speaks English, so my news sounded more like “Me…baby…{pointing to stomach}…problem…can’t have baby…must go to hospital.” She finally got the gist of what I was trying to express as I fought back the tears, since explaining such a personal thing in such a crude manner was only making things worse.

She called the hospital two villages away that apparently does abortions. Ok! Then I told another friend who speaks better English, also excruciating, but she indirectly expressed she was against abortion. I was distraught, because it took a few days to get the ball rolling. She also thought that the hospital was too close and people would find out, at that point I didn’t care, I was desperate.

Finally told a third woman who speaks some English, she finally helped me get to the first appointment, and translated. I couldn’t get a lot of questions answered because of translation problems. With gestures, I was finally able to understand that the method was going to be aspiration. They also informed me that I would have full anesthesia, and have to stay a night. (What?! Nothing online says anything about it taking that much anesthesia…but what could I do?).

On the day of the operation, I didn’t understand anything, and just kind of let the doctor do the sonogram, and I’m guessing what was dilating of the cervix. Then it was time for the operation, and I just kind of followed gestures, and woke up a few hours later. With thumbs up/thumbs down gestures I found out that the procedure went well.

I was alone that night in a Japanese hospital, (only recovering from what I hoped was a safe and successful abortion. The relief in my heart and body were immense. I have no regrets, I’m not sorry.