The Vagenda

Why Getting An Abortion Was The Best Decision of My Life


It was summer break, and my husband and I were going to Hawaii for the holiday.  It was at one of those resorts with the all-inclusive-never-ending-mimosa package, and we had both had one hell of a year.  Yippee!

It was finally the day we were to catch our flight, so of course, I had the worst sinus infection ever.  Well, I didn’t want to miss my trip. I went to my doctor and got antibiotics.  No big deal, right?  24 hours and 8 rum-filled fruit drinks later, my husband and I had sex: unremarkable, marital, drunken, slightly sandy sex. Par for the course.

There are probably many people who, while reading this, are able to pinpoint my fatal flaw.  Antibiotics and birth control do not mix well.  In fact, antibiotics make birth control quite useless.  I shouldn’t have been too surprised when, five weeks later, I was extremely puzzled over my sore breasts, constant fatigue, and new difficulties in working out at the gym.  I routinely skip the non-hormonal pills if I’m not feeling like having a period, so there was no giant “I’m late” talk with my husband.  Nobody, not even my doctor, warned me of this interaction.

When I found out I was pregnant, my immediate reaction was to recoil in horror, throw that little plus-sign out the window, and bang my head against the wall while thinking stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid.  My husband had a similar reaction.  We are both young, educators (we’re in it for the outcome, not the income!), enjoying our freedom and flexibility, and nowhere near ready to care for a child.  I wasn’t looking at pregnant women enviously or with anticipation when I saw them pass by, but instead with a sort of quiet pity.

So it was settled.  I was to have an abortion.  We set a date, we bought heating pads and chocolate snacks, and then we made a critical error: looked up what to expect during a medical abortion.  The stories were horrific, detailing extreme pain, emotional distress, sickness, complications, and violence.  It sounded more terrifying than childbirth itself.   However, we were in this together and would stick by our decision, come hell or high water – both of which seemed to be on the cards.

The day came, and off we went to the clinic.  We waited for hours and were sent on home with some pain medication and the medication that would end my pregnancy, to my relief.  While talking to the doctor, he asked what I do for a living.  I told him that I am a teacher, as is my husband. It was as if I had told him that I’m a secret Soviet spy. He immediately recoiled, unable to control his facial expression. To make matters even more surreal, he then quickly cleared his throat and said, “That’s nice.” Seriously?  It would have been better if he said what he was thinking: But surely, if you’re a teacher and a woman, the only thing you could ever want is a baby! Surely, in some way, you’re now no longer safe around those innocent children!  The doctor then asked my husband to leave, and asked me if I was being coerced into this abortion.

My abortion was nothing like what I had seen in the media. In fact, I hadn’t seen any abortions in the media at all.  My mind seemed to have even forgotten that it was possible, and my actions seemed separate from reality. Adults don’t have abortions, after all; only slutty high-school students do.  Adults think about abortions, but never actually have them. I am reminded here of two movies in particular: “Saved” and “Juno”.  In both movies, the characters are so underdeveloped that the idea of an abortion is only a fleeting thought, just enough to make the viewer know that the character is ultimately a “good girl” and “doing the right thing”.  Oh, and they were both silly kids, so the idea of an abortion is more acceptable. If they were thirtysomethings, abortion probably wouldn’t even have been shown to cross their minds.

My view of abortions, shaped by this sort of media, was that it would be an awful, gory, painful mess – like a surgery gone wrong or something out of the “Saw” movie series.  But, it wasn’t. It was painless, thanks to the medications the doctors gave me.  It was funny, again thanks to the pain medication.  My husband and I got to spend two days together watching movies and eating sweets.  We bonded.  We talked about what we would name our children when we decided it was time to have them.  We both came to the realisation that we were doing nothing wrong.  We are in control of our bodies and we have the right to choose when we do or do not have children.

I’m reminded again of a media influence: “The Walking Dead”.  My situation wasn’t exactly ideal for rearing a child.  But a zombie apocalypse?  What could quite literally ever be worse?  When a main character in the series gets pregnant, she immediately decides to have an abortion.  I certainly would have made that decision as well, and would have enjoyed seeing her develop into a more well-rounded character.  But what does she do?  She breaks into a pharmacy and steals Plan B morning-after pills. She then swallows about thirty of them, regrets her decision, induces vomiting, and is discovered by her husband.  Instead of being concerned for her mental and physical well-being, he is immediately outraged that she is trying to preserve her own life and wait until a better time to have a child.  Like, you know, maybe not a zombie apocalypse?

Not only is this a twisted thought process, but now, millions of viewers also think that the morning-after pill is the same as an abortion.  This means that many women who are uncomfortable with the idea of an abortion will not seek out Plan B, which may lead to an unintended pregnancy.  And thus the cycle continues.

How does all this affect us as women and male feminists?  Especially in the US, we are inundated with representations of abortion that are simply and completely inaccurate.  We are not educated about family planning, and the subject is largely taboo among our friends and family.  So where do we turn?  The media, of course!  And what does the media tell us?  Abortion is bad, painful, immoral, a last resort, completely undesirable, sad, tragic, traumatic.  I would like to see an abortion portrayed how mine was: like a cosy sick day. Hell, I would even like to see humour. As I said, my whole experience was kind of funny. I don’t feel traumatised, and I don’t stare out the window on rainy days with a sad backing track and wonder what might have been with a baby that never developed.

Sometimes, however, I do feel guilty for not ‘sticking it out’ and ‘doing the right thing’.  My husband feels the same.  But then I think to myself, who is telling me that I should feel this way? Because I know, with a deep certainty, that the answer is: not me.  I am thoroughly enjoying not being pregnant and not having a baby, and I refuse to apologise for it. I believe that I made the right decision for all of us. And I hope that by the time I am ready for children, they will feel the same kind of ownership of their body and choices, and receive an accurate and helpful reproductive education. Because, put simply, getting an abortion turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

18 thoughts on “Why Getting An Abortion Was The Best Decision of My Life

  1. I also had an abortion when I was in my early 20s. Best decision ever and there isn’t a SINGLE day I regret it. I still adore children, and I am NOT reminded of it every time I see a child. In fact if I felt guilty at all it was because I wasn’t feeling terrible about it. Wasn’t I supposed to be agonised over the choice? Needing counseling? Remembering ‘the date’ forever and ever? Nope, nope and nope. It was a silly mistake I made and it was a few hours of physical discomfort (not pain). I’m still looking forward to having a family one day and I don’t feel like a bad person. I hope your article reaches women who are made to feel guilty about their sensible decision.

  2. Hope i can find a girl with the same mindset. Not that I want her to have abortions all the time, but a girl that would think realistically. I have yet to meet someone like this, but then again, I haven’t really looked for any either.

  3. Actually there is a movie about abortion that approaches the topic with humour it’s called “Obvious Child”. I think Vagenda wrote about it last year

  4. Brilliant article, thank you for posting. I grew up with the “abortion is the hardest decision a woman will ever have to make” rhetoric which perpetuates the idea that abortion is “wrong”. For many of us, it’s the lesser of several evils – I certainly don’t regret mine, particularly when I think that had I gone to term with a pregnancy, the offspring would be in its teens now…

    I also think that the points you raise in the article about being in your 30s are so important. Every forced-birth comment I read online implies that women shouldn’t be having pre-marital sex and therefore won’t need access to abortion services. They always conveniently overlook the older women (often pre-menopausal), the married women who don’t want children, women whose families are complete. Are we supposed to never have sex with our husbands in case the contraception fails?

    So, once again, thank you.

  5. You must have been very unlucky – there are only a couple of forms of antibiotic that actually cause the contraceptive pill to be ineffective – they recently proved that about 90% of antibiotics have no effect on the pill at all…

    Great article though.

  6. Obvious Child was one of my favourite films last year – I thought of it when you said you hadn’t seen any abortions in the media. When I watched it I was surprised when I considered it was the only time I had EVER seen the choice to have an abortion portrayed as a positive thing.

  7. This article and your comment Sasha completely sum up my experience of having an abortion in my early 20′s. I suffered psychologically more from feeling guilty about not feeling guilty than I did from the actual event.
    Women need to know that for some people, it is an easy decision, and that’s ok.

  8. I highly respect your decision to have an abortion and I think it’s great that more people have more reproductive rights than many years ago, but your idea of the media showing abortion in humour and as a “cosy sick day” is quite harrowing, given an abortion is killing a foetus. It does trivialise abortion.

  9. Erm… since when did accuracy in portrayals of diverse experiences equate to trivialising a subject?

    You might just as well say that showing a family getting out of a car after a safe journey home is “trivialising” to car crashes.

    It is not trivial to acknowledge the fact that someone else’s experience may differ from your own, or from the stereotypical portrayal. In fact, I personally believe that that acknowledgement may be the least trivial aspect of the whole discussion.

  10. Why not? Gallows humour is as old as humankind. You think doctors, nurses, ambulance crews etc spend their lives deadly serious, only speaking of the death, disease and horrific things they see every day in hushed tones? Because as the daughter of two medical professionals I can confirm that that’s not the case. Hell, a lot of the time dark humour is the only way to cope with a tragic situation.

    You also assume that everyone considers “killing a foetus” a huge deal. They don’t. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, many people really do see the procedure as the removal of a simple bundle of cells. Who are you to demand that everyone share your view?

  11. When did I assume that everyone considers killing a foetus a huge deal? I know that some people don’t think of a foetus as a full human and some do.
    Or when did I demand that everyone share my view? I said I thought it was harrowing; that’s my opinion, and I’m fine if you don’t share it.
    Please can I post my own opinion without someone accusing me of forcing it on other people?

  12. Well said Ember – you are absolutely right that humour is a way for us to cope and make sense of the darkness that happens in the world.

    As I commented further up, women have been presented with the rhetoric that abortion is devastating for far too long. We need to see a diversity of views and experiences presented, and this includes humour. This does not necessarily need to “trivialise” the experience, particularly when women are being honest about their emotions on the subject.

  13. Great article – I too went thorugh something similar: hubby and I were waiting for our social housing to be built, temporarily holed up with my parents, 7 of us in a 3 bed house; I was at uni and hubby was applying for his leave to remain in the UK – when I found out I was pregnant there was only one option. It wasn’t a trivialised issue as Leah infers above. It was a matter of fact decision. We were not in a position to bring a life into the world and give it anything like the stability a child requires. It was also not yet a baby. It was a difficult scenario in which a decision needed to be made. I have never regretted that decision and indeed our lives have gone onto be something quite wonderful. Had we made a different choice I am adamant that we would not be in such a great position today. So great that now we can genuinely have a dialogue about bringing children into the world knowing that we would be making that choice for the right reasons.

    Since taking that decision I have confided in several women who have turned around and shared a similar experience. I suspect that there’s lots more of us out there: grounded, centred, erudite and articulate adults who have elected to be responsible and not see an unwanted/unexpected child born to an unprepared environment – shouldn’t we be commended for such decisions?

  14. So happy to find this story……Been there….. And the deadly serious dark humour Ember speaks of is true. Absolutely true.
    There are no saints. Only sinners trying to do the right thing. Sometimes, the right thing only makes sense to them. Judgement only shows ignorance. Guilt is torture.
    Thank you for bringing a fresh view into my secret past

  15. What a great article. I am currently in an amazing four year relationship, with all the right things. We recently discovered that we are pregnant. We talk constantly about our options. I’m 32 and somehow feel bad that a child at this time might not be what we want. We could do it for sure buuuuuut do we really want to. It’s a big struggle with a big decision. Do I want to travel more …hell yes. Do I want my life to drastically change? Not really. I wanted our pregnancy to be planned and happy instead of a bit of a downer. I’ve never been so torn but your article made me realize too that I don’t have to do what everyone thinks I should. My body. My decision.