When it comes to abortion, a certain amount of secrecy still surrounds the subject. It can be hard to find information about abortion in New Zealand, and even harder find real stories about the experiences of real women. In our Villainesse Abortion Series, we're committed to changing that.
In our second personal story about abortion, another brave Villainesse reader shares her experience:
Were you planning on getting pregnant?
No. I was really scared as I knew what had to happen but was scared of how to organise it and any side effects etc. At the age of twenty at the time, I was so young and not thinking as clearly as I would be now that I’m in my 30’s.
Was termination always going to be your choice?
Yes. I didn’t know initially how to go about getting an abortion, but figured it out by starting with a call to a health clinic, which then advised me to call a family planning centre.
Was the father part of the decision-making process to get an abortion?
Yes and no. I told him, but also informed him what my plan was, and he did not disagree.
Did you feel that you were supported in your decision to terminate by your medical consultant? Were you offered other options?
Yes I was supported. My mind was already made up so I wasn’t really interested in other options.
Do you feel that the medical community gave you enough counseling during the decision process?
In my case, absolutely. I had a clear idea, and the family planning doctors were great.
Talk me through the process of what happened in the termination. Was it difficult or manageable? Did it hurt?
It was totally manageable, and it didn't hurt. I booked into the clinic, was seen by a doctor who took a ‘psychological’ history as well as a medical check, to make sure I was clear on what I wanted. The staff were very calm and supportive. I did not feel ‘judged’ or ‘shamed’ at all – just the overwhelming feeling of being in good hands and cared for and supported. I was led to the procedure room, and a drip was inserted, and I was sedated; again the doctors and nurses were warm and supportive and made me feel really positive and not scared. When I woke up, I was wearing a pad and went home on the same day - it only took a few hours from walking into the clinic to walking out the door.
Were you alone through the process or did you have support from a partner or friend?
The father came along (at his insistence – he saw it as being supportive, but I would have preferred my best friend) but my best friend was the support afterwards.
What happened over the first few weeks afterwards?
I had some tummy cramps, like slightly worse period pain, and a period that lasted about 10 days. That was it.
Can you describe how you felt emotionally?
Mostly relieved. It was not a difficult decision for me in terms having no intention of continuing with the pregnancy, but I was a little worried about whether it would affect my ability to have a normal pregnancy in the future. I was a little melancholy about it for the first year or two (still mostly relieved), but later, and especially now as a mother of two wanted, planned children, I feel really strong and independent about it.
How did your partner feel afterwards?
I think he was relieved, but a little sad about it. Sadder than I was.
How easy do you think it is to find out information about termination?
Back then, it was harder (I used an actual Yellow Pages!) Now, with the internet, it’s very easy. And to be honest, if you go to a GP, they will be able to point you in the right direction anyway. (Ed.’s note: Some GPs are known conscientious objectors when it comes to abortion and will refuse to refer you to abortion providers. Check out our guide on how to get an abortion in New Zealand for more information.)
Do you feel that it is something that you would do again? Why / why not?
My circumstances now are vastly different. Then, I was a 20 year-old student, with a guy who was nice, but definitely not a keeper, and partway through university in a tough degree program. I had no career, no money, no partner I deemed suitable for me to have a family with, no home (just rentals and uni accommodation), and honestly, looking back, no maturity or desire to have children at that point.
At the time I felt that there was no way that I would progress a pregnancy from embryonic stage to an actual human, when I couldn’t provide any stability because of the above reasons. I also felt that it would derail my entire future, as well as saddle me permanently with a guy I had no interest in furthering a relationship with (because even if we broke up, he would still be the father of my child).
As a direct consequence of my termination, I completed my degree(s), established a career, and my independence. I can now provide for my wonderful husband (who is an amazing father) and our two beautiful children, in the way that I wanted to. Emotionally, financially and physically, I am more present for all three of them now than I would ever have been age 20. Today, if I had to go through a termination, it would be a joint decision based on whether we wanted a third child (we don’t) and whether I could medically have another baby (I had medical complications with both my full term pregnancies).