T he Coast invited readers to share their experiences with abortion by emailing stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions are published on the following pages, anonymously, with the time the email was received. They all do not depict the state of access in Nova Scotia today. They do depict, however, the entrenched shame and stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health; assault and mistreatment from partners and family; and a huge amount of courage. Shame comes easy when lack of information and uncertainty set the rules. Shame can fade away when information is shared and understood.
“It was me that I chose, probably for the first time, and in spite of continuously being taught not to. And I made the right fucking decision.”
The clearest memory I have of my abortion, or rather the memory that stands out the most is of the female nurse holding my hand, and telling me it was alright as I cried.
I wasn't crying because I regretted my choice, or even because of the pain (it was painful), but because I knew that I had made a decision about my life and my body that would allow me to move on, to go back to school and someday, if I chose, to have a baby when I was ready.
She was my solace that day, she gave me comfort and support when I needed it most, and I don't know her name. I do know that she helped six other women that day take control of their lives. To her and every person who fights, smiles, comforts and protects the right to healthcare, I say thank you.
I was a grown woman of 25, and I wasn't ready to be a mother. I was able to make a choice, in a safe environment, where in our world so many young women are punished for making that same choice. Where they have to go to dangerous lengths to have an abortion. Where they're imprisoned, or executed.
Remember that there's a large chance that you know and love someone who has had an abortion (please say it out loud just once, it's not a dirty word). Never make them feel ashamed, they have nothing to be ashamed of. The war on women's bodies isn't new, we often forget that. It's a battle we've always fought, and one we'll keep fighting until the world wakes up.
Support each other, support a women's choice. #youknowme
In control //4:37pm//
I found out I was pregnant during my last year of university. After many tears, many what-ifs and a lot of talk with my partner, I made an appointment with the Sexual Health Centre to see what steps I had to take to get an abortion.
During the ultrasound appointment (the appointment I was dreading the most), I found out that I had something called blighted ovum. Blighted ovum is a pregnancy where a sac and placenta begin to develop, but the embryo does not. Because this normally happens so early in a pregnancy, most women don't even know that it's happened. I was so overwhelmed during the appointment that I did not actually understand what the doctor was saying to me, and it wasn't until later on that I realized what had happened.
Because my pregnancy would have ended in a miscarriage, I chose to still go through with the procedure (D and C) so that I could control when it would happen, rather than wait it out.
I think that my story is important because it's about so much more than an abortion. So many people who are "pro-life" are focused heavily on the idea of being anti-abortion to protect life, but what about the life of the mother? Going through this process was not easy, but I know that experiencing a miscarriage that I wasn't prepared for would have been much more traumatic. Yes, I made the decision to have an abortion, but in the end my abortion ended up being to save myself from the experience of losing a pregnancy naturally. It was my right to choose that ended up really saving my mental health, and for that I will always be grateful.
I have a type A personality and (surprise surprise) I like to plan. I was dating and sexually active so I got an IUD. Seemed like a wise move—and to be fair, for most people, it is a very wise move. What I didn't plan for was being the one percent of people who get pregnant on an IUD.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was floored. I was 29 and I had a great job. My life was stable. I could have had the baby...but the simple truth was that I didn't want to. I didn't want kids and I wasn't sure that my boyfriend was the person I wanted to be with long-term.
There was no question in my mind that I would get an abortion.
I went to the Halifax Sexual Health Centre (where everyone was lovely), but I remember feeling so angry and alone. As much as my boyfriend wanted to support me, he just couldn't. Biology had decided this would be my ordeal and mine alone.
I don't regret my abortion. I am grateful for it. It freed me from a life I did not want. But it was hard, which is why I get furious when I hear about (male) politicians creating barriers to make an already difficult thing even more difficult for women.
I don't talk about my abortion often but, given the political climate, it feels important to share my own experience. Having an abortion was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I will forever defend a woman's right to choose—whatever her reasons.
USA, 1969 //12:15pm//
I had an illegal unsafe abortion in New Hampshire in 1969, my last year of university. It was scary and horribly painful. I wish it on no woman ever.
The son of a physician did it. He took me blindfolded to a place with a cot, and injected saline solution through my cervix. I was about eight weeks pregnant. It took about eight hours to abort; the last hour I sat on the toilet screaming with pain. All but one of my roommates deserted me. About a month later I haemorrhaged badly and had to be rushed to emergency for a D and C. Health insurance through my employer at the time refused to cover the cost.
I heard several years later that the physician whose son did mine had been jailed, because a woman she helped bled to death. The saline solution method did not clean out the uterus the way a D and C or suction does. When abortion became legal I thought "Thank god no woman has to go through what I did."
I have never had any regrets, in fact it was absolutely the right decision. The experience radicalized me. I became a lifelong pro-choice advocate and feminist.
I just wasn't ready yet //11:22pm//
When I was 25 years old, I had an abortion at nine weeks pregnant. I had a job and was financially independent, but I was also still very unsure about where I wanted my life to go and knew that mentally, I was not prepared to become a parent just yet.
I took my first pregnancy test when my period was officially one week late. I called Planned Parenthood [now the Halifax Sexual Health Centre] the very next morning and took the first appointment that they had, which was two weeks later. By the time I was able to have a scheduled abortion, I was nine weeks along. (In many states, I would have been far too late to have access to a safe abortion.)
The experience is not something I regret. The staff I dealt with at Planned Parenthood and the hospital were all kind and caring. I never once felt judged or like I was making a bad decision. I was supported by every person I interacted with. I left after the procedure knowing that I had made the right choice for myself. I can't imagine my life now, had I not had access to an abortion at that time.
I am now 31, with an eight-month-old baby and another expected in December. I am so happy I made the choice that I did when I was 25 because it enabled me to create my family when I was ready.
I'm not an anti-abortionist, and thought I'd offer this about my life. I got pregnant at 23 and kept the child, and she is now a brilliant, strong pro-choicer. Choices lead to more choices, and I'm glad until that point I only had sex with people I loved and would have kids with in the first place. I was lucky and strong. I know sex is not always chosen, and is affected by many things that detract from one's choice. Every life is different and we are only beginning to understand how our choices are affected by and affect others, and create the society we live in.
I, myself, have not had an abortion. So why am I writing? Because when I was 19 one of my best friends was pregnant with twins. She and her partner were naively over the moon...until they found out one of the fetuses had died, and because they were in the same embryonic sac, both had to be aborted or her life was in danger. What a decision to have to make at 19.
I flew home to take her to the clinic in Ottawa. It was the Morgentaler Clinic downtown. The protestors outside that day were unbelievable: Right in her face with pictures of aborted fetuses, calling her names, physically intimidating her and assuming she was there because she had unsafe sex, ergo a slut. To quote one of the screaming protestors: "Abortions shouldn't be used as birth control." What?
Needless to say, I lost it and went full protector of my friend, who was sick, weak, sad, upset and in pain. She didn't speak about the harassment she got that day. Instead, she focused on the procedure she was about to endure that she never wanted in the first place. After it was done, she was sick to her stomach, endured insanely intense cramps and could only stomach very weak tea for two days. Only after she recovered from the procedure was she able to really fully grasp the trauma her body, her mind and her heart went through in all of this.
There seems to be a very stubborn (male) notion that abortions are like eyebrow waxes...in and out. Back to normal. They are not. It is a big decision to make, and I am certain no woman makes it without thinking it through and agonizing about the pros and cons.
I really don't know where this idea that girls and women are the only ones responsible for this. Men, let me reiterate a basic fact: Sperm plus ovum equals fetus. Ovum without sperm does not. Ergo responsibility for unwanted pregnancies, it seems to me, falls heavily on the male and it is unbelievable to me that the rights of a woman to decide what happens to her own body is still being debated by a bunch of privileged old white men. This is absolutely absurd.
The only choice //7:12am//
I was a single mother of two and finally starting to rebuild my life and career. I was in an unstable "relationship" that was never going to go anywhere. It was by far the hardest decision I've ever had to make. In hindsight it was the best choice, the only choice, but I still think about it every day.
Addicted and pregnant //11:59pm//
I had just freshly turned 16 years old when I got my first abortion. I didn't have a job, I was fully addicted to drugs, I hardly was attending school and I was barely making it through a day. My boyfriend at the time was a full-blown alcoholic, mild drug addict, completely abusive and neglectful. He refused to have sex with a condom on, and regularly would come inside me with absolutely zero permission and zero warning. At the time, I thought this was love.
When I found out I was pregnant, I panicked. I told my boyfriend, who immediately told me I didn't have a choice—I had to have an abortion. I hardly even knew what an abortion was, except for that it was "bad" and that it sounded terrifying to me, so I basically decided to ignore it. I pretended like I wasn't pregnant, and I basically almost killed myself because in my mind I figured if I did enough drugs, I would kill the baby. It wasn't until I started getting violently ill due to morning sickness and drug abuse that I came clean to my mother about being pregnant.
She took me to the doctor where it was confirmed: I was estimated to be just under 10 weeks pregnant. I was fucking 16 years old, I was a little girl who was so sick and so lost. I explained my situation to my doctor who tried to convince me not to have an abortion, because I was nearing three months. Luckily for me at the time, I was a) terrified of disobeying my boyfriend, and b) not at all changing my mind.
If I wouldn't have gotten that abortion, or wouldn't have been allowed to get that abortion, I would have been a mother at 16. I would have been a mother at 16 because my boyfriend continuously raped me with no guilt or remorse for the consequences that could come with that behaviour. The baby would have been born an addict, with two addicted parents who were entirely incapable of providing any sort of positive or proper care.
I'm 28 years old now, and just under a year ago had my second abortion. I'm in a very healthy and happy relationship, I no longer suffer from addiction, I'm working and I love my job. I just recently moved to Montreal, and I'm pretty sure my boyfriend is going to ask me to marry him. I'm in such a good place right now, but I'm not at all ready to be a mother. I don't think that I want to be, and my birth control failed me. If I wasn't able to have an abortion, I would have a child I didn't want.
I'm terrified for the world we live in, and terrified for the young girls and women who are raped, whose birth control fails them, the condom breaks or it was just an accident. Abortion will not stop, but safe abortion will, which will lead to many fatalities. I hope whoever needs to read these stories does. I hope all the women reading fell less alone.
- JESS HARTJES
I was surprised at how organized the NS healthcare system was with my abortion.
When I got pregnant I had so many wonders and worries. Do they do abortions here? Did the doctor get to decide whether I could have an abortion? How much did it cost? I went to the sexual health clinic on Quinpool and got a second test that confirmed what I knew. The nurse practitioner asked me what I wanted to do, and I told her I was not prepared or wanting to have a child then. I was 25, just starting my career and not in the financial spot to do so. I was with a loving and supportive partner who also supported my decision.
The nurse told me I could get an abortion, and that it was free. I was surprised and relieved. They would also give me access to a free session with the psychologist if I felt like I wanted to talk it through. I didn't need to, I was resolute. She set up my blood test and ultrasound with the hospital over the next weeks, and then the abortion would happen. Although I had to wait about a month, I understood. There were people further along than me who were priority.
At the hospital they take many precautions to make the wing discreet. They clearly don't want the dumb anti-abortion picketers outside making their way to the wing. The doors of the wing are on a buzzer that locks. I was given an Ativan and painkillers and sat in a room with other women waiting for theirs. I didn't mind being there with them, it made it all seem more normal. I didn't need to hide from them, we were all in the same situation. It actually made me feel better to see women of all ages around me.
After a bit of waiting the procedure was quick and only slightly uncomfortable. The doctor between my knees told me what she was doing every step of the way, at my request. A nurse stands by your head on the table and holds your hand. I think she petted my hair too. It was nice.
I told them after in the post-op room that I appreciated what they did for me, because I really did. They gave me orange juice and a cookie as I sat in a bed with a hospital coat, and a big pad for the bleeding. Not much bleeding then.
The following week was the worst part, bleeding and cramps non-stop, like the heaviest period I'd ever had. But then it was done.
No question //1:10pm//
A week before exams, in the second year of my undergraduate degree, I found out I was five weeks pregnant. It was a "no question" moment for me, because not only did I acknowledge that I would then be tied to the father for the rest of my life—the kind of man you do not want to be tied to—but I had no family around me, no job, no income, nothing but a rented room and years of university in front of me. Most of all, I was not ready to carry a child and love it with my whole heart, the only way a child deserves.
I scheduled an abortion and had one in my seventh week. It weighed so heavy on my heart, and even though I knew it was the right decision for me, I sat in the recovery room chair after the procedure and cried. Sobbing and sobbing, I remember saying out loud, "I am so sorry...I am so sorry." I was apologizing to my child for not being able to welcome them into the world, and it was by no means an easy experience.
Fast-forward six years, and I am now married to my best friend and we have a one-year-old daughter who shines brighter than the sun. I am grateful to live in Canada where I had the option to have an abortion in a safe environment. I hope my daughter will always know that she has her family, and her doctors behind her no matter what.
- JESS HARTJES
Re-buff the shame //11:25pm//
I was 20 and had just starting dating someone who I was close with throughout high school, and so we were both well-known in our hometown community. When I found out I was pregnant, I had to tell him over the phone because we were living in different cities while away for university. My mom suggested that I come home to have the procedure done, so I faked being sick with my university friends and was away from class for about three weeks. Despite supporting me, my mom cautioned me heavily not to tell anyone, not even my family or friends. The only friend I did tell was my best friend at the time, and she got so upset about it that she ended our friendship. So I never told anyone else until many years later.
Shortly after returning to university I began to fall into a depressive episode and was prescribed anti-depressants for the first time. My doctor told me that I'd be fine, and that I didn't need counselling because I was strong-willed and the process had gone smoothly. When I approached my university about withdrawing from my classes because I couldn't stop crying and I was afraid to look anyone in the eye, I was told that "many students feel stressed out near the end of term," and that I would "regret not pushing through it." I started writing the word "abortion" in my journal over and over, and I would whisper it to myself in private.
When I finally did start seeing a counsellor a few years later, after my depression lingered long beyond what would be considered an "episode," I was told that it was understandable to have developed depression after such a traumatic and shameful event. But the procedure itself was not traumatic. And it certainly wasn't inherently shameful. It was how I was treated or how I expected to be treated, that caused the trauma. If I could go back and do it over again, I would absolutely make the same decision—I'm wholeheartedly certain of that. But I would face my decision with confidence and self-assurance, and I would work hard to rebuff the shame, guilt and judgement that I so thoroughly internalized the first time around, that I still remain wounded to this day.
My abortion was my own. It was a decision that I only considered for a day or so, knowing full well it was the only decision I had. I was 19 years old, broken and insecure about my body, which resulted in putting myself in an abusive relationship. He would stand me in front of a mirror and point to the areas that disgusted him, create workout plans for me and taunt me while he would eat whatever he wanted. He would find waiters at restaurants and change my orders to salads or things he felt were more healthy for me. Sex was about him and him alone. He didn't go down on me because me being overweight made me "stink." He didn't use condoms because "they feel unnatural." I was starving myself daily and my mental health suffered, I forgot my pill for a few days in a row.
Then I found out I was pregnant. It all changed. I finally worked up the courage and left him. I called my mom crying and could barely speak, I was considering just ending my own life because I couldn't grasp the fact that my abuser got me pregnant and I had to make this decision. A decision about this clump of cells that would turn into a baby that I didn't ever want and could not support in the state my life was in (not that it matters, pro-choice forever). I was fortunate enough to have a supportive mother and brother who helped me every step of the way and encouraged me to not only go through with my abortion, but talk to a therapist about my struggles.
Fast-forward eight years later, I'm with an amazing, loving, kind, generous partner who loves going down on me (I've also GAINED weight, my scent is just fine). I have a life I'm proud of, and we're talking about children possibly in the future.
I cannot fathom living somewhere that, at the time I made my decision, COULD CRIMINALIZE ME for that choice. We need to be mad. We need to be angry. We NEED to speak so loudly that the world hears us. I think of my brother and mother who helped me with resources for my abortion, and think of the fact they also could be criminally charged with there heartbeat bills in the States. I feel so helpless and I know I'm not alone in this feeling, but I know I'm also not alone in my fury. #IStandWithWomen #YouKnowMe
- JESS HARTJES
Do not be afraid //8:52pm//
I was 27 when I had my first abortion.
I was engaged to be married to my fiance in six months. We are two people everyone "expected" to reproduce. We have two great jobs, own our home and are fun-loving aunts and uncles to lots of kids within our families. Should come naturally, right? Not so much.
I took the pregnancy test one morning and remember crying and crying in fear, disappointment and complete upset. How could I let this happen? I'm 27, I took the pill for 12 years—never made a mistake. I was angry at myself. I had grown up wanting to have kids but I slowly lost that maternal feeling as time went on. Other feelings started to replace it like the highs of travel or career milestones. We just knew the timing wasn't right—we weren't ready.
I can vividly remember so many emotions throughout the entire process. I wanted to cry every time I looked at a child or look my mother in the eye. I felt like I was letting people down because I didn't want to be a mother. I went to my family doctor after making up our minds about the abortion. Having a doctor is a precious thing in Nova Scotia and I'm forever grateful, but I was not expecting to hear: "everything happens for a reason" / "maybe this is a sign" basically rationalizing against my choice to terminate the pregnancy.
However, I continued to sneak around to get my ultrasound and go to Halifax for my appointment at 11.5 weeks. The hiding is the worst part: Faking reasons for blood work and appointments. Faking reasons for being sick, tired and eating everything or nothing at all. I had every early symptom in the book and people knew for sure, but I just had to play it off long enough that they would forget.
Two years later, I found out I was pregnant again. This time it was worse—physically and mentally. I wasn't even worried about the "how" this time. I was further along and received the same rhetoric from my family doctor upon our first appointment. I knew what I had to do—I cancelled all further appointments with her and called the self-help line and got my second appointment. I had so much heartache, I could not bear facing her knowing the guilt I would feel leaving her office and telling her I was not keeping this child. This is the first time I told anyone but my husband about the second abortion. I wish I didn't feel scared to tell people for fear of their own opinions because ultimately, I am not ashamed of it and I have no regrets.
This is the story I want women in Nova Scotia to hear and this is what the Women's Choice Clinic did for me:
You know what I felt leaving the clinic on these occasions? EMPOWERED. I sat in the waiting room both times with women of all ages and lifestyles. Some were moms already, career women and college students. They were all beautiful, smart; we were all scared. We got talking on both occasions—we knew we were all there for the same thing and we all were wanting for someone to tell us it was OK and that's exactly what we did.
The process goes quickly and you are supported by the most AMAZING group of nurses and doctors. You speak to a counsellor who helps you work through the "why" and they let you talk through your emotions and tell you it's OK to make this choice for YOUR body and YOUR life. They genuinely want to know your story and why becoming a parent isn't right for you at the time.
The doctor I had was female (same both times) and she was a badass. She told me stories of other women coming in and feeling the same sentiments, and comforted me throughout the process. I aspired to have her confidence and her pride of being a woman. Truly inspiring. I hope she knows how deeply she makes a difference for those who visit her in the clinic.
The nurses in the recovery room try to get to know you and ensure you feel well. They know you just went through something physically invasive, emotionally scarring and they do everything they can to make you feel supported. I remember they opened a window for me in the middle of February because I was sweating profusely. I had a Popsicle and we chatted about restaurants. It was a simple moment but I felt so much relief. Relief it was over. Relief that I could talk about it. Relief that life would go back to normal.
If I had someone come to me to ask about my story or for advice I would say: Do NOT be afraid. You are supported. You are loved. You are capable of deciding what you want to do with your body and life and that's a pretty amazing thing. If you choose abortion, you won't be judged by the women at the clinic. They will get to you know and your story, and remind you that you are enough and it's OK doing what you feel in your heart is right.
I've wanted to write this story down for so long. I am not ashamed. I don't want anyone else to be. It is so sad and scary to watch things in the United States going backwards for women, and it made me want to share my story even more.
I suspected pregnancy really early and went for tests. They called and said that my blood work was negative, so I got a copper IUD inserted. We're still not sure if I was pregnant before the IUD was inserted, or if I got pregnant immediately after. In either case, no one suspected pregnancy while my health deteriorated over the course of eight weeks (it turns out I'm not a happy pregnant person), and my mental health collapsed as a result. No one knew why I couldn't eat, handle the smell of deodorant or sleep longer than two hours. My period was on time, my tests were negative and I had the IUD, so we were investigating things all around it—I even left the city for a week, thinking I needed to be away from all the stressful things involved in my thesis.
One day, I couldn't find the IUD strings and went in to the doctor's clinic for the umpteenth time in the past eight weeks, and they ended up sending me for an ultrasound. This ultimately led to the discovery of the fetus attached to the IUD, which was bad news for the cluster of cells and for me. I was admitted for the surgical procedure a few days after that–we were all pretty shocked that it had come this far, but we had all done the best we could with the information we had. The whole surgical abortion process wasn't nearly as awful as I thought it would be, but it also wasn't something I'd wish upon anyone.
I found a lot of comfort sitting with the other women who were there that day. We were all there for different reasons, which made me feel more confident in my own decisions–sort of a commiserating-type thing. The discomfort had nothing to do with the people, really, they were kind and respectful. It was the procedure itself. It's is just so...surreal. It feels uncomfortable so they put you on Ativan and some heavy-duty painkillers, but there are so many emotions attached to it that it's hard to tell what's a symptom of what. During the procedure, they had to take an extra step to get the IUD out as well, and I was really uncomfortable, so I turned to the nurse and asked her what her favourite flavour of ice cream was. I have no idea why I asked that, I just wanted to think about anything else, I guess. She laughed, which made me feel a bit better.
Once it was all over, I felt infinitely better–partially because I could finally eat again, and partially because I was glad it was done. Though my lead-up was really unlucky, my ending was fortunate–I knew it was the right choice for me, so I don't think I felt the same type of grief other people may feel. There was grief, though, which I wasn't expecting; it was more around the situation and the inevitability of it than the actual loss. I had gone to great lengths to make sure this didn't happen, and yet it happened all the same.
That sadness intermingles with the joy of regaining control of my physical and mental health, and still pops up sometimes when I'm not expecting it. I'd say I'm glad I made the choice that I did, and I'm grateful that it was as smooth an experience as it could have been. And, for what it's worth, I've never in my life been happier to be a citizen in Canada so I could make that choice.
I was 16 //11:12am//
I had an abortion when I was 16 years old. My parents had died when I was a kid and I was living in a boarding house, working at a fast-food restaurant and hitchhiking to school each day. I was living in PEI during the no-access time, so when I found out I was pregnant, my doctor basically said "good luck" and I was on my own. I made arrangements to go to the Morgentaler Clinic in Montreal, which meant I had to arrange for three days off my job (with no pay of course); I had to pay for travel and accommodations that I could barely scrape together the money for; I had to do it all in secrecy with no support because of the shame and stigma attached to what is a pragmatic reality for so many women.
At any rate, I got the abortion and have never had a second's regret, then or now. Getting rid of safe abortion services doesn't get rid of abortion, it just puts women's lives in danger. Being anti-choice is not about caring about the lives of babies, otherwise all those anti-choicers would be working hard on the issues of child poverty, sex education, deadbeat dads paying child support and access to birth control. Anti-choice is about controlling and discriminating against women. #timesup #prochoicebecause #reporights #youknowme
No regrets //3:50pm//
My abortion story is quite positive. I found out I was pregnant on my birthday last year. I had only been dating my partner for a month and a half. I was terrified. I went to a walk-in clinic (since we all are without family doctors in this province) and the doctor gave me a number to call. I was booked for an ultrasound two days from then, and my abortion was scheduled a week later. The morning sickness was real.
I told my partner and thank fuck, he was supportive. He understood. He helped me through sick days and cry-fits and anything I needed help with. The day came for my "hasty abortion" as Ellen Page said in Juno. It was early morning. No one but the "abortionees" were allowed past a certain point. I was in a hospital gown surrounded by about six other girls in our own waiting room. One by one we were interviewed. Questions like "Did anyone force you to come here?" "Are you aware of your options?" That kinda thing. The nurses and doctors that helped me through it are literally superheroes. I cannot thank them enough for the comfort they provided in such a scary time. It was quick, and recovery was super-quick too.
I have no regrets about the situation. I love the fact that I was supported in a decision I was able to make for myself. I am endlessly thankful for my freedoms.
That's when I really knew //11:22pm//
I had my abortion three years ago. I had always been pro-choice, but never thought I'd have to make the choice.
My long-term boyfriend and I had just broken up, and I had moved into a new apartment alone. We were still occasionally sleeping together. (Which in itself was a terrible mistake. When you break up, just walk away!) It was Halloween, and I was having a party at my place. After everyone had left, it was just me and him. We had been drinking, and I think we were both feeling lonely. We had sex, like we had many times before. I had an IUD, which is 99 percent effective. I said that was the last time we should sleep together, and it was.
I missed a period without even noticing, and I was already behind by a couple weeks before I questioned it. I remember making a nervous joke to my friends as I bought a pregnancy test: "If I'm not at work tomorrow, you'll know why!"
I wasn't at work the next day.
My ex and I had both started seeing new people by this point. He was settling into a serious relationship, and I was in the very early stages of dating someone wonderful. I called my ex to tell him that I was pregnant. He was quiet, but understanding, I thought. I asked for him to come to the hospital with me, to get a referral for an abortion, and he agreed. I told the new guy I was seeing as well, since I didn't want to hide anything from him. I cried in front of him. He hugged me, and cried for me too.
When my ex and I went to the hospital (we just went to outpatients at the QEII because I didn't know where to go), I realized he didn't believe it was his. There were a lot of tests, which took hours. Hours of waiting and sitting together quietly. Every time I saw a new doctor, I'd have to tell them I wanted an abortion, and was asking what I needed to get a referral. My ex kept asking them when they thought it was conceived.
Sitting in a waiting room, he asked if I was OK to do the rest of the day by myself. He had chores to do at home. I felt abandoned.
The hospital finally gave me my referral, with a number to call to make an appointment. The angry-sounding lady on the phone said I'd have to wait a few weeks before I could get in. My appointment was December 22. I would be eight weeks and two days along by then. They would also be closed for two weeks at Christmas, and I was lucky to have gotten in when I did, as Nova Scotia has a 12-week cutoff for abortion procedures. I told my mom I had to work a few extra days before I could come home for Christmas.
My friends were amazing during this time. They spent so much time at my apartment, helped me clean when I couldn't handle the smell of chemicals anymore and brought me ice cream.
The new guy stuck around. He drove me to the hospital on the day of my appointment, waited for me to be done, and drove me home afterwards. We're still together today. He's perfect.
I went home for Christmas holiday the next day, still sore from the procedure, and broke down to my mother within an hour of being at home, telling her everything. "Oh baby, I love you no matter what," she said. "Thank you, Mom." I said, crying. "I wish you had told me though, I wouldn't have let you do it," she said.
I think that's when I really knew I had made the correct choice. I think her words would have made me feel guilty if I questioned my actions, but I just felt more secure in the decision I had made. I was planning for my own future, and I wasn't ready for a child yet.
Three years seems so long ago now that it barely feels real anymore, but I am so incredibly thankful for all the people who eased my pains through everything, especially the nurse who held my hand during the procedure, telling me she loved her job for being able to help girls like me. It honestly took me a long time to accept all that had happened, but I've finally come to terms with it. It's OK that it happened. I made the choice that was right for myself.
My now-boyfriend and I are looking at buying a house soon, and talking about starting our family. I can't wait.
When I was 17 my parents decided to take me and my little brother on a cruise to celebrate my graduation from high school. On the second-last night I was sexually assaulted. There was no protection used, and I had messed up my birth control while travelling. I came home from this vacation and did everything in my ability to make everything seem normal. I told no one what had happened.
After missing my period for a couple of weeks I decided to take a pregnancy test, and to my own surprise, I was pregnant. I had a boyfriend that I had been dating for over a year, but we always used protection. If I told him will he think that I cheated on him? Would he believe me? I didn't know what to do, I didn't know who to tell, and I was surrounded by the overwhelming guilt and shame. I couldn't tell my friends or family, because I did not feel as though they would be supportive or helpful.
I decided to tell my boyfriend, because I couldn't go through this alone and I had convinced him that it was our mistake and that it had to be. He did not question it, but I felt so guilty.
I went to my family doctor, and we determined that I was already eight weeks along in the pregnancy. I told her that I needed an abortion. I had a varsity sport scholarship at university coming up in the fall, and I couldn't have a kid. Not now. They quickly sent me to an OBGYN, who agreed that we would have to get the abortion done as soon as possible. They would give me a call if there was a cancellation and I would have 20 minutes to get to the hospital.
I can remember sitting in advanced physics class and feeling my pocket vibrate. I knew it was the hospital calling, I knew they had had an opening before I even checked my phone. I lied to my teacher and told him that it was my parents and they would call in later to excuse my absence. I didn't skip classes often. I didn't even get a phone call home, even though I missed the entire afternoon.
I walked to the hospital, because they told me that I could not drive after the procedure. I can remember crying every step of the way, thinking that everyone was staring at me or thinking that I was dirty or less for having an abortion. I had so much shame. I felt so guilty. I think that was the longest walk of my life.
After many hours had passed, I awoke in the recovery room. I had the realization that my little brother's Grade 9 prom was that day, so off I went pretending like nothing happened, in excruciating pain from a fresh abortion. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. To this day, the only person that knows about the abortion is my high school boyfriend. I do not plan on telling anyone.
With all that is happening in the States and some of their states ridiculous laws over controlling, essentially a woman's right to reproduce or not, I am more compelled to speak of my abortion than ever before.
I became pregnant at 23 with my partner and we both already knew that we did not want a child between us for common reasons. We were not prepared mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. Thankfully, those in my life understood why I did not want a child of my own and supported my decision. I say my decision because in the end—it was mine and mine only to make.
I had the abortion and did not (and still do not) regret my decision. To this day I am so very grateful that I live in a country that allows me the option to have an abortion. I would not be living the life I have right now if I was not able to have that choice.
Thoughts towards those in the States who had their privilege taken away—the privilege that is to have control over their own body.
I was single and 23 and went on a trip to the Netherlands with friends. I hooked up with a guy one night and insisted (of course) that he wear a condom. I then noticed that the condom was no longer on, he insisted it was an accident and it was replaced. Although I am not sure, I believe the second one was removed as well. I didn’t know the term for it then but have since learned its called “stealthing.” Regardless, I got pregnant. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would have an abortion and I have never regretted it once since.
Right fucking decision //2:19pm//
“I found out I was pregnant while sitting at the end of a long table full of men; barefoot in a hospital gown, a few hours after a psych assessment. When I was experiencing some abdominal pain that evening, they brought me to have an ultrasound. The doctor told me everything was fine, I only had fibroids rearing up. As he turned the screen toward me, he explained how my baby had a normal and healthy heartbeat. The next day when I asked for some Gravol to help with nausea, the doctor handed me a tiny white pill with an outline of a pink pregnant person on it. It was then explained to me that Gravol wouldn’t be safe for my baby, just in case. She said a quick and cheery congratulations on her way out.
A week later, I was released from my stay in the hospital—beginning the process of establishing new routines and regaining composure. Another week or two passed and I made an appointment at the sexual health centre to discuss my options, figuring I should be doing something about what was happening to me. Another week passed and I walked in to my appointment to be told that I would receive a call in yet another week or so with my abortion date.
As more time went on, I could no longer ignore the changes happening within my body. I felt taken over by something—and I felt healthy. All bad habits fell away effortlessly; new routines were being established with ease. I had something else to care for aside from myself, whether consciously or not I was doing what I needed for my body. A call came, and after another few weeks (at the end of my first trimester), I had my date.
I was late for my appointment, which isn’t unlike me. I couldn’t help but make a joke in the car ride over about how I’d theoretically be on time for work that day but was late to my abortion. A hallowed, lengthy, much-needed graveyard laugh ensued.
The details of the procedure are hazy at best, perhaps clear at worst. I watched the doctors fumble their way into my body—not capable of entering my cervix on the first couple of tries, much to my distress. I remember sobbing; I remember gasping breaths. The nurse sitting closely over top of me, holding both of my hands and not relinquishing eye contact. I remember her saying something; I remember her making sure I heard her: “You made the right decision—whatever led you up to this point, you made the right decision.”
I have not had the easiest time letting this sentiment ring true. Some days I still choose myself, but often I just try forgiveness. The truth is, I didn’t have something to care for aside from myself. I am still learning what that kind of care, love, feels like. It was me that I chose, probably for the first time, and in spite of continuously being taught not to. And I made the right fucking decision.
My father had just died. My ridiculous mother took all of my condoms she found in a room search in an attempt to keep me from having sex. I was about 17 years old, on my own and couldn’t afford to feed myself let alone buy new condoms, and I was pretty sure if it hadn’t happened yet it wasn’t going to.
But then it did. I had no idea anything was going on until a co-worker heard my various bodily complaints and put her hand on my stomach. I still didn’t believe it when I bought the test and it came back positive,fast. In I went to a walk-in clinic—no way I wanted my family doctor to be aware of this happening. He was old school, he would have told my mom. At the clinic the doctor was surprised by how quickly I got a positive test and upon further examination informed me that I might be further along than I thought and there was no time left for decision-making, as the appointment needed to be booked last week.
It’s quite a process, an abortion. Several appointments leading up to the big one. It takes many weeks to get it all done, and I had no time left to make a decision. The doctor knew by looking at me that I wasn’t ready or else he would have said congratulations! An ultrasound revealed I was already three months pregnant.
I’m one of those “I didn’t know I was pregnant” chicks. I got a period on time every month, like clockwork. I was 18 by this time (with a fake ID I was a bit of a bar star), had been drinking a lot, living on my own, taking ecstasy on the weekends and smoking weed and cigarettes daily. I couldn’t afford condoms, how could I possibly afford healthy food? Prenatal pills? Daycare? The father was a shithead who was having babies with multiple women at the time—it was a relief to him when I told him I wanted an abortion.
The abortion itself was no fun of course, and I longed to hold my baby for years after. The emotional havoc that it wreaked on my early adult life was real. Depression hit hard and I couldn’t talk about this to anyone because of the stigma. But I powered through and went to school (this was the promise I had made to the universe; in exchange for my actions I would make the best of my life no matter how hard it was), got my degree, grew up and met the man of my dreams. We now have three beautiful children, we own our home, we have financial and emotional stability that I lacked when I was a teenager.
When I think of what life would have been like for me if I had that baby, with no support from my parents or the sperm donor, at such a young and ignorant time in my life, I know wholeheartedly I made the right decision. I wish it didn’t happen, of course. But it did, and I’m here now with tears in my eyes to tell you that it was the right decision for me and my now-family.
Two abortions //12:23pm//
One was maybe 15 years ago, when I was in my early 20s and definitely not in a financial position or good enough relationship to have a child. I also never really wanted children, but birth control pills had not been agreeing with me and I guess something slipped somewhere along the way. I never even told my long-term boyfriend. I told him I was going in for treatment for endometriosis. (Which I didn’t have.) I remember getting the referral from the Halifax Sexual Health Centre (which was Planned Parenthood back then), and having to go to the IWK for an ultrasound.
Weeks later, I remember walking into the IWK and going up to the secret abortion wing. I wasn’t scared necessarily, and I was prepared. I knew what I didn’t want, anyway. They make you speak with someone before you go through the procedure. I don’t remember what the lady said. I remember that the nurses were kind and the actual procedure wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Afterwards, in recovery, the nurse gave me juice and a cookie and was gentle and soothing. My boyfriend was waiting for me afterward and we cabbed home. I cried in bed both from the cramps and some sense of loss and loneliness that I didn’t realize I would feel.
The second time was years later, at the beginning of a new relationship. I must have missed a pill here or there. I was so sick, I couldn’t eat anything. Neither of us wanted children. I told him about it and he was supportive. Once again, I went to the Halifax Sexual Health Centre (by this time). I was older, in my late 20s now, and I didn’t feel the same support with this decision from the medical professionals. The ultrasound that they require you to receive was so uncomfortable—I was so sick, and they made me look at it while they did it.
When I arrived the day of my abortion, the nurse I spoke with beforehand tried to dissuade me and told me that the nausea often goes away (as though that were the only reason I wanted to terminate this pregnancy). A woman I spoke with in the changing room told me that she’d just had an IUD inserted after having two children but found herself pregnant and so here she was. I don’t well remember anything after that. I’m not sure if I just blocked this one out, or if it’s just melded with the first experience.
I’ve thought often about what my children would have been like had they come to term but I also know that I made the right decision for me, at the time. Now, I would like to have a child but I am in my mid-30s, and not sure if things will align before I run out of time. I have never told my family about this and have only told a few friends, in a moment of oversharing. I don’t feel shame, necessarily, but there is obviously a stigma that I’m not comfortable with.
After my first abortion, I found myself in the midst of a mental health crisis and was being admitted for an psychiatric evaluation through Community Mental Health Services. They brought up my abortion to me, as though making this decision had anything to do with what I was going through now. It seemed strange to me then, and now.
While abortion is legal in our system, it is not really very condoned. Had I the money, I would have gone to the Morgentaler Clinic (which existed in New Brunswick back then). There, you were given your pregnancy test, ultrasound and abortion all in one visit. Here, they make you wait weeks to get the ultrasound and then weeks to get the abortion. Is that so that I start to question my decision? It doesn’t make sense to me that they would allow the fetus to develop further when the decision has been made to terminate it.
I was 20 years old, it was December 2010, I was with my boyfriend of six months, we made the choice together. The same boyfriend and I are engaged, and now have a 18-month-old daughter. We regret nothing, it was the right choice for us at the time. Eight years after the abortion we chose to bring life into the world, and she is the light of our lives.