My experience of unwanted pregnancy.

29 08 2011

Just my story and opinions… before anyone decides to comment negatively on the title, read to the end, or you’ll look a tit.

I never planned on having children. I’m too much of a child myself. When at 33,  nature decided my future was to include a baby, I knew that having a child was what was meant for me.

I am VERY pro-choice.

I always have been.

Abortion is not something I could have put myself through when I fell pregnant, as I feel guilt at taking weeds out the garden and killing fleas on my dogs. I was happy to live with the consequences of karma. (long story!)

This isn’t really the purpose of this blog.

I wanted to tell you a story of an experience I had at age 17, that ties in nicely with today’s news that Ministers back anti-abortion lobby reforms.

I had been going out with my first boyfriend for 8 months and we were sexually active. I dreaded being pregnant and having children so we were especially careful and went ‘double dutch’.

My mother went to work that summer in Romania, it was just after the demise of Cheausescu and Communism in the country, and she volunteered to help rebuild community and social care support structures. I was home alone and typically not very well.

I’d been having a lot of kidney infections, bane of my existence and the doctor had no idea what was causing them. The day my mother flew out to Romania, I gave her a letter to read on the plane. In it I joked I was pregnant. I wasn’t but I knew she’d panic before she read to the bottom of the letter where it would be revealed I was joking.

That same day my GP said she thought I was pregnant as nothing else could explain the pain and constant infection. She continued by saying it was too soon to test so best not to worry about it for a week or two when tests would show results.

AAARRGGGHHH!

I was a very young 17, as far as I was concerned this was the end of my life.

I could barely console myself shopping for cheese in Morissons. I remember it so well. I couldn’t even say the words to my boyfriend. I have never felt so alone.

I already knew how I felt about abortion and to me this made the whole idea of pregnancy and parenthood even worse…but I honestly didn’t think I would be able to have a child at 17, so I called an “independent advice and counselling service”.

Impartial it said on the yellow pages advert. A place to talk without judgement. We just listen and support. Anonymous.

I was terrified and found it hard to speak to the lady on the phone for my constant tears. Remember this hadn’t even been confirmed yet, it was just a ‘likely’ suggestion made by my GP but it was my biggest fear.

I told the lady, my GP thought I was pregnant and that it was too early to test. I cried and told her my mum was away for the whole summer so I was alone. I told her I didn’t think I could cope with a pregnancy let alone look after a child at the end.

I was still a child myself.

I wanted someone to be calm with me. To tell me everything would be ok. To tell me that whatever I decided to do was the right thing FOR ME.

Instead the woman was horrific. Her impartiality extended as far as to point out I would be wrong to have an abortion. I would ruin the rest of my life. I would make myself suicidal into adulthood. She stopped short of calling me evil, but the intention was there.

I had never heard of such a judgemental service.

I had to battle to get her off the phone as she persuaded me not to have an abortion. Not to make a hasty decision. Not to do anything before my mum returned 8 weeks (!!) later.

Not once did she suggest to go get a test and see for myself. That the doctor perhaps was wrong. That there were places I could go to be tested for free as I didn’t have enough money to buy a test for myself.

Not once did she try to alleviate my fears or calm me down.

This woman had an agenda and she stuck to it. To hell with me and my feelings.

What was the name of the people I had phoned? The Samaritans.

Now I know they do a fantastic job and I probably just got a bad egg, but it worries me that the government think its acceptable to make compulsory counselling a process independent of existing family planning type services, run mostly by charities without profit.

The fact that one of the main advisers to the Right to Know lobby group, Dr Peter Saunders is head of the Christian Medical Fellowship who are also a very pro-life organisation, brings the whole group into question. The source of funding for the group is kept a secret. This has a massive bearing on the motives of the group.

What everyone agrees is that support and information for women who seek a termination can be improved, what not everyone agrees is that it must be compulsory or seek to put women off making the decision. Should Right to Know be funded by pro-life campaigners then it produces a biased lobby, without providing the ability to publicly question, from pro-choice groups.

It seems very closed doors and that is not what this discussion should be. It should be open, honest and most of all, respect each individual woman’s ability and right to choose.

Back to my situation.

Thankfully a very sensible friend, who had gone through an abortion the year before, came to my rescue. She took me to the Family Planning Clinic who told me that not only was my GP wrong about not being able to test but confirmed that the woman on the phone had been particularly unhelpful and downright out of order.

These doctors and nurses listened to me. The told me what my options would be. They gave me the very necessary pregnancy test.

Thankfully my GP was talking through a hole in her arse. I was no more pregnant than I was a man… but for those 24 hours of crying and fear, I was failed by the very types organisations who will no doubt bid for tender on counselling contracts.

When pre-abortion counselling turns into something akin to an ATOS interview where computer (or God) says yes or no, then we have a real problem. When a counsellor feels that their own personal opinions and views need pushed on a scared child, or grown woman to dissuade them of what they see as a viable option to rectify their issue… then there is a problem.

The fact that there is a distinct religious element to this lobbying, and it is headed by a woman perhaps more suited to Bellvue Place than government, worries me no end.

I felt like I was being told off and judged. I felt like a naughty little girl, rather than an empowered young woman.  Before speaking to the woman, I knew what I would have to do to ensure my future, my wellbeing and my sanity. I felt after talking to the independent service, I felt I had no control over any of the above.

I finished my conversation with the woman by saying, “I thought you were just meant to listen and support, not lecture”. Then I hung up.

I cannot believe the government can be so short-sighted.

Pro-choice isn’t about forcing people to have abortions, it’s not pro-abortion. It’s pro the right to choose for yourself what is best for your life and your body. In many respects, Pro-choice is equally as pro-life than the religious pro-life groups out there. Pro choice supports the choice of a woman, it doesn’t force anything on anyone. Pro-life groups don’t respect the lives of the already living.

This is a sad day for women’s right to choose, free from judgement or comment.

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