My Abortion Was a Great Day Out
Because I have reliable and affordable healthcare, the “life-altering” procedure felt routine and non-judgmental.
Taking my place in a time-honored lineage of women, stretching back generations, I was sitting on the toilet when I found out I was pregnant. It was the staff toilet at the sixth form school I was attending, and I had snuck in there so that I could pee on the stick and on my hands in privacy. I was 19 years old.
Finding out I was pregnant was bad news, but it shouldn’t have come entirely as a shock. The contraceptive pill is quite hilariously ineffective at keeping you not pregnant. In the U.K., where I was sitting on the school toilet pregnant, the blessed NHS reports that nine in 100 women taking the pill will get pregnant each year. Slightly more than three million women are currently taking the pill in the U.K., which means that 30,000 women every year will become pregnant despite eating the daily hormone lozenge that makes you fat and sad and gives you blood clots and robs you of your sex drive. On that day, it was just my turn.
My Best Friend Offered Support at the Abortion Clinic
I immediately called my best friend, JC, and because she is a hero, she told work that there had been a family emergency and came to pick me up from school in her car. We drove to a supermarket and ate a depressing breakfast of morbid buffet sausages and congealed beans while we strategized about what to do next. I knew with unflinching certainty that I wanted an abortion and felt no nerves or apprehension about this whatsoever.
We are taught to believe that having an abortion is a huge and life-altering decision rather than a routine healthcare procedure. The point of this is to moralize the decision and infect us with uncertainty and guilt. It also appears to be linked to the sticky but erroneous idea that women inherently want to be mothers, and therefore any decision related to mommydom should be wracked with identity-level significance.
When the day of my abortion came around, JC drove us to the city where I would have the procedure done. We raved to dance tunes in the car and discussed the many and various merits of Scotch eggs as a snack food. We got semi-lost on the way and had to ask for directions from a taxi driver who was parked up on a side road. When we first asked for directions to the “Marie Stopes” clinic, as it is hygienically referred to, he had no idea what we were on about.
“The abortion clinic,” I said and smiled in case he felt the need to offer any condolences.
“Oh yes, of course, love. Off you go up this main road here…” He was very nice and gave us top-quality directions because we arrived at the clinic four minutes later.
We spoke to the very nice lady at reception.
“One abortion, please,” I requested, which made JC snort, and to her credit, the nice lady at the desk smiled too. The abortion procedure itself was uncomplicated. I have had more unpleasant and stressful haircuts.
I Was Fortunate to Have a Network of Care and Compassion
JC and I celebrated the fact that this was a free and easy to access procedure by having a posh lunch and doing a bit of shopping. We sat in a lovely outdoor dining place with a view of the fancy shops all around the nice part of town we were visiting. There was a jeweler with a burly security guard at the door for whom we spent a gleeful hour making up a life story. The highlight was that his name was Boris, and he had a catheter fitted because he was never allowed to leave his post at the jeweler’s door and had, in fact, been standing there since 1998.
The only painful part of the whole day was the *insert deluded branch of Christianity here* women who were praying outside the clinic for the murdered soul of the 8mm glob of cells in my uterus. Presumably, God had revealed to them that this was a better and more pious use of their time than, say, litter picking or volunteering at a children's shelter or any other activity that would yield a net positive impact on the planet.
When JC dropped me off at home, we said, “I love you,” like we always do. I ordered takeout and rolled around in bed watching films and bleeding what appeared to be chunks of uncooked liver into my epically proportioned sanitary pads. My mom checked in on me every now and again. I felt totally looked after, extremely relieved that my life would not be destroyed by enforced parenthood, which I absolutely did not want, and my belly was full of curry, which is truly a utopian trifecta.
JC and I still chat about Boris and what he might be up to and how his catheter is doing. We reminisce about our great day out and sigh with deeply felt relief that I’m not a parent. I wouldn’t recommend getting abortions as a fun new hobby or anything, but if you do find yourself in need of one and you are fortunate enough to live in a place where women are given more legal rights than a corpse, then I encourage you to enjoy the day in whichever ways you can.