One in four women has ever had an abortion. That means there’s a good chance someone close to you has. This makes you think, right? Because you actually have no idea who would do this.Women who’ve had an abortion don’t mention it in any language. Because although abortion is legal in Belgium, it’s not talked about. Abortion is taboo.
Stephanie talked to a woman who still wants to remain anonymous. The people in her close circle know about it, but she prefers to keep it quiet. Out of shame and incomprehension. You can read her story here.
I have been in a steady relationship for three years and was in the middle of my first year in college. As I went from the train station to the campus, I remembered that my period was quite long. But those thoughts quickly disappeared into the background. The next few days I walked around with a tampon in my coat pocket, because now it would really be time. But my periods stayed away and then I realized something was wrong.
That same night I bought a pregnancy test. I informed my boyfriend and I remember doing the test while my parents were sitting next to me in the living room. When I finished, I slipped the test under the sleeve of my sweater and walked to my bedroom where my boyfriend was waiting for me. We didn’t have to wait long before we saw the second dash.
In a daze
We were both surprised. I took my pill properly, how could I be pregnant?! Without long thought, we chose to have an abortion together. I was eighteen, I was in my first year of college and my boyfriend was still in school. We had no financial security and were both not ready for a baby. We made an appointment with the house doctor and today I am still grateful for everything. Next to my boyfriend and I, no one else knew anything about the abortion. Neither of us had even informed our parents as my boyfriend’s parents had insisted on an abortion and my parents wanted to keep the baby.
But it was our choice. Not somebody else’s. We had to do what we thought was best And at that moment in our lives it was an abortion.
Thanks to the doctor we had an appointment at the abortion clinic in Antwerp. The whole period I experienced as a kind of intoxication. First we had an introductory meeting with a very sweet lady. With this standard conversation we wanted to discuss the whole situation and make sure that our decision was well thought out. There was no talk of conviction. After that conversation a date was set. For us it was December 5th.
That morning we had to get up early. Two hours in advance I had to insert a pill into my vagina. If I did this, there was no turning back. So that morning my hands shook and I discussed our decision with my boyfriend. Although we were sure of our choice, I still wanted to talk about it. And then I brought in the tablet.
The address brought us to the Groenplaats in Antwerp. It was a kind of large building with several floors. I don’t really remember what was on the nameplate, but I do remember that there was no word “abortion clinic” anywhere. That made me feel safer. No one would know why we were there, or why we explicitly went to floor three. The care staff was very sweet and I got a bed. The operation was gone over again and thirty minutes later I was taken to a small room. The operation itself took a little longer than fifteen minutes. In recent years I have put away the memories so that I could forget them as soon as possible.
But the sound and the pain I will never forget. During the operation I held back my tears because I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t sure of my choice. I focused on the terrible sound that indicated that something inside me was being sucked away, our baby.
Process of grief
Although me and my boyfriend were one hundred percent behind our choice, we both experienced a kind of grieving process in the following months. Our sex life was no longer what it had been and its spontaneity disappeared forever. We were no longer thoughtless since that day. We both knew we had done something was not right. How could we have prevented it?
We avoided the subject, we never talked about it. But I saw my boyfriend was having a hard time with it and he realized this to me. Yet we remained silent. Because if we didn’t talk about it, then maybe one day we could convince ourselves that it never happened. But the grief ate at us. So strong that we both told our secret. Me to a psychologist and my partner to one of his teachers. We weren’t angry with each other because we both knew how hard it was.
Not much later I quit college. Because the next exam period, I was immediately hijacked back to that moment. I took my life, went to work and made sure that I would never have to make this choice again. The next time I was pregnant, I would make sure I had my life in my hands.I chose to have an abortion because at that point in my life I had no home of my own, no financial security, and I was reckless. I let a hormonal spiral sting and did my utmost to achieve the life I had killed our baby for.
Because that’s how I see myself, still today. A murderer. I took our baby’s life, I decided it had no right to exist. And although I don’t regret it, because I realize all too well that my situation at the time was not ideal, I do regret it. If I had to relive the moment again, I would make the same decision.
Becoming a mom after an abortion
I’m still with my boyfriend today. In fact, we got married and bought our own house. We both have a steady job and are financially sound. My husband wanted to start having children two years after the abortion but I stopped this a bit.
I really wanted to be one hundred percent ready for a baby. A steady job, financial security, a home of my own. Let’s just say I owed that to myself and my first baby, which I didn’t want because my life wasn’t ready. It would be unfair to start having children without being fully ready or having children when I didn’t want my first baby in the same situation.
Now I’ve recently become the mother of a fantastic daughter and I love her infinitely. Sometimes I feel like I am compensating my loss with the love I have for my daughter.
I am the mother of one child. Even though I had an abortion, I never saw that baby as my child. I still don’t. Because I chose not to be a mummy then and although I don’t regret that choice, I do walk around with the impact it has on my life. I hate to hear people talk negatively about abortion. When people claim that it’s their own fault and they had better protect themselves. That they can have sex but don’t want to take care of a baby. Degoutant, I think. And even if I don’t agree with such statements, I will never confess that I am one of them. Because unfortunately, misunderstanding is hard to find and abortion is still a big taboo to this day.