I was 27, married, and the mother of one and half year old twin daughters when I realized I was pregnant. I also realized that I was not ready to have another child. Just not yet.
Normally we only hear about two positions in an oversimplified way: ‘pro-choice‘ (often misunderstood as “pro-abortion” when it really means trusting women to make their own reproductive as well as other choices) and ‘pro-life’ (taken to mean opposing abortion in all circumstances, although this definition is also inadequate). While I believe life begins at conception, a position typically considered “pro-life“, I still went ahead with getting an abortion done because I believed it was the best thing for my family under those circumstances.
My first pregnancy (with twins) was a very difficult one, which involved months of complete bed rest and a risky caesarean surgery. I had barely recovered from that, and so when I found out that I was pregnant again, I couldn’t imagine going through another pregnancy so soon. Moreover, my partner and I were still struggling with taking care of our twin daughters, trying to ensure that we could give them both the best of care, especially since they were born premature. So, I knew I wanted to get an abortion.
I confided about my decision to have an abortion with my partner, my mom, my sister and my closest friend. Everyone, except for my friend, tried to dissuade me from going ahead. The common refrain was “Why do you want to kill a life that is already inside you?” or “This is God’s wish and it will be okay.” I felt conflicted about my decision because I agreed with them. Partially. I did believe that there was a new life inside of me already. However, I also believed that I wasn’t ready to carry the pregnancy to term. And given the tough choice, I was willing to go with the latter.
Understanding my resolve, my partner and my family (perhaps reluctantly) decided to be supportive, and my sister referred me to her gynaecologist for the abortion. The gynaecologist was a nice woman, but during our first interaction she asked me to rethink my decision and to take another day to do that. However, I resisted and said that I was sure and didn’t need more time to reconsider. And thus, I finally got the abortion.
It was a first trimester abortion, and went smoothly without any complications. And while I felt relieved after the procedure, I also felt a sense of guilt, even though I knew I had made the right decision given my circumstances. This may appear contradictory to those reading this, but it’s the best way I can explain it: I was relieved yet upset. I was glad to be not pregnant anymore, but I also felt a sense of loss. And this is a contradiction that I have had to make peace with, and honestly, it hasn’t always been easy.
While I can’t decide for other women whether to have an abortion, I do think that individual circumstances have to be taken into account when one makes this decision. When it comes to abortion, there are many more grey areas than a binary understanding of “pro-choice” and “pro-life” would have us believe. Perhaps I wouldn’t make the same choice of getting an abortion if I were to go back in time. Or perhaps I might. What I do know is that the choice will always be mine.