What It's Like To Be... a Woman who's had an Abortion


Sometimes in life, there are situations where there seems to be no good answer, just options that are better than others. The problem with these options is that they are seldom obvious, and usually require a lot of thought and painstaking decision making, while being accompanied by doubt the whole time. This can definitely sum up the experience Georgia, a strong and talented Australian girl with an enviable position in the much coveted fashion industry. This vegetarian of twelve years, currently engaged to the man of her dreams, and a talented photographer (as displayed in this post!) seems like one of the coolest girls you could know, and would be an excellent best friend. And she would be, even if a year ago Georgia had an abortion.

The thing about Georgia's abortion is people sometimes forget that Georgia is not her abortion. She is still the warm, funny, friendly girl she always was who made a decision that will be with her the rest of her life, but she made a hard but appropriate choice to have to carry the decision with her instead of the fetus. Sometimes a woman can be careful and smart, but still feel she is not responsible enough yet to raise a child. Sometimes this is the most responsible decision.
Georgia was lovely enough to explain it for me:

Q: What was your opinion on abortion before your pregnancy? Has abortion changed it?
A: I went to an all girls school, where women were applauded, and a broad and unbiased education was paramount. I am also university educated, so I am fortunate enough to have been surrounded by strong and positive female role models.

Abortion is not something I thought I would personally have to deal with, and was definitely not a decision I took lightly. I am still, and always will be, pro-choice. I believe it is a woman’s right to choose her future, regardless of mistakes she may have made in her past.

Q: What was your first reaction when you found out you were pregnant? Did the idea of abortion come to you immediately or did you think of it later?
A: My first reaction to the news was devastation.
I had taken two at home tests. The first was negative and the 2nd positive. It was then I went to a doctor to find out for sure. As soon as she confirmed the news I broke down.

The doctor was very clinical, told me I had 3 options, (to keep the baby, adoption and abortion) and at this stage the best thing for me to do was start a pros and cons list regarding each one.

I did weigh up the pros and cons of every option though, and it definitely helped me to make my decision. Having a baby at that time was never part of my plan, and I knew that I was not ready to bring a child into the world.

Q: How did you pick which clinic to attend? Was the clinic positive and helpful or did you feel judged for what you did? Were there lots of options?
A: I did some online research and basically pulled a few numbers. I phoned around and went with my gut feeling based on conversations I had with receptionists. I cannot say enough about the clinic I attended! They were supportive and helpful from first contact.

I had made an initial appointment, and canceled it the day before because I just didn't feel ready. They were completely understanding, and beyond kind. When I attended a week later, I underwent a counseling session, completed psychology tests and was assigned a personal nurse to help me understand the process, answer any of my questions, and quite literally hold my hand from the start to the end.

I met with the both the doctor and the anesthesiologist before the procedure, and the whole environment was supportive and sensitive. They also ensured patients had a friend or partner to be there when the procedure was over; someone to take them home and support them when they left the clinic. I was completely informed about any risks involved, and supplied with contact numbers and references should I have any issues or concerns after leaving. I now have such a respect for those people who looked after me and all the women in the same situation. They were truly amazing.

justice seekers

indybay
Q: We frequently see people protesting outside the abortion clinics. Was this an issue with you at all?
A: On the morning I went to the clinic there were at least 15 people outside, holding placards, praying, chanting, and protesting. It was horrible to have to deal with that on top of everything else. I understand that this is a sensitive issue, and that people are passionate about it, but I do not believe harassing women in front of a clinic is the right or effective way to get a message across. This was a decision that I had thought long, hard, and agonized about. It was not something I was going to change my mind about upon being set upon by [others].

Q: How do you feel when other people say mean things about abortion? Has this situation ever arisen? Are you open with your experience or do you prefer to keep it to yourself?
A: I don’t advertise the fact that I had an abortion, but if the subject comes up, and I am with people I respect and trust, then I have no problem in talking about my experience.
When people are judgmental and ignorant though, it really just makes me sad. How can you judge not having been in that situation? But hey, all I can do is try to educate and empathize.

Q: Did you have a strong support group while going through this? Was this important?
A: I have amazing friends, and they were very important to me during both the decision making process and afterward. They were willing to stand by me whatever choice I made, and that was really touching. I would have been lost without them, and I think it would be very tough to go through this experience alone.

Q: Are there any days you regret your abortion?
A: The regret I have is getting pregnant in the first place. I am happy in my life, and I know in my heart, that if I hadn’t made that choice, I would have many regrets. There a so many things I want to achieve in my life, and having a child is one of them, but I want to be a responsible and amazing mother, able to provide the best for my child. Quite simply, I would never have been able to do that, if I'd had a child at that time.

I won’t say that it was easy. It took me a long time to deal with. I did go through some depression and a great sense of loss afterward. I cried a lot. I was upset at myself for not being ready to have the baby I had conceived. But 14 months later, I look forward to the day I am ready, and knowing that when it happens, I will be in the best position for parenthood that I can possibly be.

Q: Name some misconceptions about abortions and women who have them.
A: The thing I was most surprised about was that the waiting room was comprised mainly of couples. Ages ranged from 20s - 40s. It was my misconception that mainly young single girls have abortions, teenagers without decent support networks, or uneducated women living "hard" lives. This is most certainly not the case!

I have also heard ridiculous notions that women frequently use abortions as birth control measures, and I simply can't accept that anyone would put themselves through that instead of just taking a pill, or putting a condom on their partner.

Q: Were you religious? Are you religious? Did any of this have an impact on your decision?
A: I was baptized catholic, and spent 12 years in catholic schools, but I am not practicing. I am a spiritual person though, and I do believe in a higher power. There are many aspects from many religions that I take on board, I do believe in re-incarnation, I believe in life cycles, and I believe in karma. But I think, spirituality is a fluid thing that should grow and develop within us as we do. As cliché as it sounds, I do think everything happens for a reason, and I think every experience helps us to learn and eventualize our full selves.
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It is interesting to look far back into history and see what beliefs many of the early people had on abortion. In fact, almost every ancient religion, from Zoroastrianism to Hinduism, had a period between conception and the developement of the fetus into a true child. This has later been scientifically proven, but even in ancient times there was admittedly dangerous (mind you, so was child birth at the time) but will available options for women who were in danger from their husbands or if their health was in concern.

Yes I can use chopsticks
An interesting thing to look at is the practices of many Japanese Buddhists.
" I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance." -Dalai Lama, New York Times, 28/11/1993
Abortions there acknowledge both that the fetus is not yet a child but also deals with the spiritual side with an offering to the god Jizo of lost travellers and children. Small statues are placed and visited annually, with the understanding that Jizo will guide the soul of the child off to another reincarnation which is more appropriate for it. The respect involved in a culture that embraces such practices is admirable.

There are a lot of different choices for a lot of different people; I made the choice to write this, and you made the choice to read it. You may make the choice to always be against abortion, but others of you may make the choice to have an abortion some day, or to be there for someone who has made that choice. In the end, there are a million choices that we are all permitted to make, and I hope that Georgia's story has inspired you to realize that there are many different choices that are appropriate for different people, and to judge without compassion is inappropriate. In fact, to judge at all is inappropriate, and goes against majors tenets in most religions, especially Christianity. Because, in the end, this is not your choice to make.

You may not respect Georgia's choice, but as a person, she still deserves your respect in the same way that everyone deserves the best in life. If there is one thing I can hope for, it is that you all go out and make what you think are the right choices that will give you the best, most meaningful, richest, lives you possibly can live.
Because there is truly beauty in choice.

Always,
Mary

More?
Birth Rate Up, Abortions Down (because girls don't have access...)
Planned Parenthood (for beyond just abortion information and into STDs and general sexual health)
I really wanted to include a link here about pro life people who still managed to respect abortion even if they didn't agree with it. I could not find one. I really hope you understand that it can happen though, I have faith in you.

19 comments:

GraceFace said...

Really amazing post. I admire you so much for putting yourself out there, and putting these issues on your blog. A lot of people might have no idea of what it's like for someone in a situation where they have to have an abortion, and maybe if they read this post, they'll be less judgemental.
xo

Maud said...

wow, mary. you're so great. like so, SO great. i really hope lots of people will read this post and be influenced by it. i love the fact that you respect different opinions. you're so wonderful about not imposing your beliefs on others, but rather opening their eyes to possibilities they may not have considered. well done, really.

Becca Jane said...

this is an amazing and very thought provoking post. Thank you!

Molly said...

i went to a catholic primary and secondary school. one thing that made me angry beyond belief was when it came to red nose day, my primary school refused to let anyone raise money, or even wear red on that day, being punished if they did. eventually they let them, but donated all money etc to a different charity. all of this was because a percentage of the money raised on red nose day was going to pay for women in poverty stricken areas to have safe abortions. in these situations, the mothers could be dying of aids. their whole families riddled with aids, hardly able to eat because of their emense poverty. at best, grandparents or friends would be expected to bring up these children. at worst there is no one.
to judge these people is utterly, utterly wrong. not only that, but they then refused other people that would benefit from the money, not just abortions, to have anything. i dont know how they can preach a christian, moral life when so harshly judging these people that we, thank god, cant possibly ahev any idea what theyre having to live with. im still christian. but i am also ashamed to be associated with these bigots. i appreciate all situations are not as severe of this, but it just brings to light the ignorance that we live in, and above anything, we have absoloutely no right to judge others. i am pro-life. but a real life. i am pro-choice, as long as the choice is based on the benefits to the children, not your own selfishness. but then, i cannot and will never be able to know what goes through the minds of the women forced to make this choice. either way, it takes real bravery. i pray to god that i never have to make that choice.
thankyou mary, for showing that pro-choice doesnt have to be an extremist, judgemental point of view.
xxx

Isabel said...

"There is truly beauty in choice."

Nobody could have said it better.

bobb said...

Terrific post here Mary! Georgia's story, and your comments strongly make the case for abortion rights.

My dad was an OB/GYN who performed abortions, and we frequently discussed the topic and the difficult nature of the decisions faced by those who were considering abortion.

Thanks for the link to Planned Parenthood. Alan Guttmacher, a former president of Planned Parenthood, went to my high school, albeit 90 years ago.

I do believe that there is common ground between many of those with pro-choice and pro-life positions in areas such as the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

Here are some links:

The Guttmacher Institute:

http://www.guttmacher.org/

The Common Ground Network for Life and Choice tried to bridge the gap in their work between 1993-2000.

http://www.sfcg.org/Programmes/us/us_life.html

Although she doesn't call herself "pro-life", since she sees it as a political term, Adrienne Kauffman's beliefs are basically those of a pro-lifer who seeks common ground with those who disagree.

http://blog.sojo.net/2009/05/21/shedding-pro-choice-and-pro-life-labels/

Here's the link to the interview with her. I had to register to get interview, and if you want to read it and don't want to register if prompted, E-mail me at civiltwight55@yahoo.com and I will paste it into an E-mail and send it to you.

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0906&article=a-conversation-with-adrienne-kaufmann&0906_webextra=Extended%20Format

Thanks again for another thought provoking post!

Emlyn said...

you said everything perfectly.. I hope and will try my best to make sure I never have to make that decision.
You owe it to your children to bring them in to the best life you can offer them.
Molly comments about Red Nose day were provoking, I can't believe someone wouldn't sacrifice their own beliefs for an opportunity to help many different causes.
On a technical note the first two photographs aren't showing up (at home or at the library...) just to let you know.

Annie said...

this is amazing. I'm not very politically active, but women having the right to an abortion is something I feel very strongly about. we deserve the choice to take care of our bodies and minds as we see fit, and it's so poignant to hear this story from someone who's actually lived through the difficulty of deciding to have an abortion, rather than just a bunch of people talking judgementally about the issue with very little realistic material to support what they say.

thank you so much for doing these "what it's like to be..." features. it's truly beautiful.

L.P. said...

Mary you are sooo wonderful. Going to a Catholic all-girls school I sometimes forget that I myself have very different views of the world and this post was so educational and eye-opening. You educate us all. Bravo!

Georgia said...

Thanks Mary, it's beautiful. Lovely to work with you :)
Huge hugs!

Lee said...

This whole interview was fantastic. I am, and have always been, pro-choice. It's not a question for me, it just seems natural. But this interview actually built a lot of foundation for my natural feeling to stand on. This is a girl that wants to be a good parent, and wants to be a responsible one. I think the fact that she made a decision that is good for her child and even guilt inducing for her is actually a very responsible choice.

It's a good feeling to know that there are girls out there that want to be good parents for their children and are willing to put that off until it will actually work.

Lee

bobb said...

Didn't mean to imply that I was in high school now per my comment - poorly phrased there. That was quite a while ago:)

Amelia said...

Great interview! I really hate how much people judge someone for having an abortion. It's so ridiculous. Also, I love that the Dalai Lama has a stance on abortion (and a good one, too!). Somehow, I just don't see him as being so in touch with modern issues.

Vanessa said...

I'm so glad you did this, and Georgia sounds like a truly lovely person. I'm glad that she made the decision that she did. I'm pro-choice, as is my boyfriend, and we've discussed several times what our plan is if we should ever accidentally get pregnant. We know that we're too young to have children and that we both need to be able to complete college and our respective Master's Degrees/J.D.s before we get married and, LATER, start a family. We've agreed that, for us and our situations that abortion would be the best choice for us at this time, and it feels so comforting to at least have some kind of plan and support if anything unexpected were to happen. I strongly encourage anyone in a relationship in which they are having sex to sit down and discuss what to do if a pregnancy occurs. If you're mature enough to have sex, then you should be mature enough to discuss what could go wrong and what to do. It's brought me a lot of piece of mind.

Again, this is an awesome entry. Thanks so much for interviewing Georgia and sharing this.

In-tree-gue said...

You're absolutley wonderful. This was a great post(as are all your others). I really admire you for putting these issues on your blog. That's great that the Dalai Lama has an opinon (good opinion) over abortion.

Mary said...

I think what georgia said about harassment outside the clinic is so important. there is an abortion clinic a few blocks away from my house. protestors are outside almost around the clock, carrying Bibles and posters of aborted fetuses. sometimes I wonder when their protesting becomes more than just fighting for reform and becomes intrusive and harrassing.

bobb said...

Here is some information about t the "Freedom of Access to Clinics" Act.


http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/face_act.pdf

Anonymous said...

This is a great post.
Abortion is much more common than we think. Many successful, responsible, mature, and lovely women in my life have had an abortion. I am sure almost everyone knows someone who, at some time, had an abortion.
I myself had to get an abortion when I was 16.
Of course pregnancy is something that should be avoided if it is unwanted, but sometimes accidents happen. Abortions are emotionally painful experiences, but I feel that mine only helped me to be stronger.

Jackie said...

This is a great post/interview. Thanks so much for sharing!