I am a 50 year old NGO professional based in New Delhi, India. I was born and raised in South Delhi, and grew up in a big happy joint family surrounded by uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins. I decided to get married at 25, and had my first child at 26, while also working on my PhD, which I finished by the time my son was around 4 months old. Three months post-PhD completion, I began working.
I have always believed, and this is just a personal opinion, that having children earlier is better, primarily because of biological reasons. And therefore, my first pregnancy at 26 was a planned one. My partner and I had a healthy baby boy, and like any new parents, we were both overjoyed and excited, yet also a little nervous about managing and taking care of our now grown family.
My elder son was around 8 months old when I conceived again. And this was despite the fact that my partner and I were using contraception. Although I have personally always wanted to have more than two children, I knew right away that this wasn’t the right time to have another child. We were young parents trying to work on our respective careers, raising an infant and also taking care of aging parents.
My first thought after I became aware of my second pregnancy was – “Would I be able to do justice to another child? Am I doing justice to my child now?” Moreover, having conceived so soon after the first pregnancy also made me worry about the physical toll on my body if I were to carry the second pregnancy to full term. Therefore, the thought of not being prepared physically, financially and emotionally to have another child motivated me to think of abortion as an option.
The decision to terminate the second pregnancy was taken jointly by my partner and me. We had no difficulty in locating a private abortion service provider who was willing to conduct an abortion in the first trimester of the pregnancy. Although immediately after getting the abortion I felt guilty, I soon also realized that it was the right decision for me, for my partner and for my family.
However, given that topics like unwanted pregnancy and abortion are not openly discussed in India, and are taboo even among urban and well-educated segments of a higher socioeconomic standing, I did not discuss the matter with my parents or in-laws. I was also aware that my mother-in-law was against abortion, and hence both my partner and I decided to keep it a secret. I did confide in a few close friends, however, and they all were very supportive and respected my decision.
Life after abortion resumed the usual routine and mundaneness, and I got busy with my job and with raising my son. A year and a half after the abortion, I became pregnant again and gave birth to my second son. Both my partner and I were thrilled given that this pregnancy was planned and we felt ready in all aspects to have another child. However, I conceived immediately again after the birth of my second son, this time too because of contraception failure. But unlike the first time where a condom had failed, the second time around it was the copper T (an IUD: intrauterine contraceptive device, one of the most effective and reversible forms of contraception available) which had failed to prevent the pregnancy.
My partner and I were again in a fix, and we knew that now with two children, one of them a new born, there was no way we could go through with a third pregnancy. So, we decided to go ahead with an abortion as the most sensible option, and we went to the same service provider who had performed the first abortion. The abortion provider did not make judgements and was supportive of our decision. This was also a first trimester abortion, and compared to the first time, I did not feel any guilt because I felt confident of my choice and decision. Moreover, the fact that both my partner and I were on the same page with regard to this only further strengthened my conviction that having a second abortion was the right choice for me. I did not share the news with anyone else, except for with my mother. And to my pleasant surprise, she was supportive of my decision.
So, yes, that’s my truth. I have had two abortions. And I DO NOT feel guilty about either of those abortions. I suppose it is unconventional and bold for a woman to affirm that, but I think a lot more women should speak out and share their abortion stories to break free of the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion. The assumption that we would be judged by others for the decisions that we make for our body, our health, our life and for our families only further perpetuates secrecy around this issue. And it’s time to end that. It’s time to end the stigma and shame around abortion.