As she stared into the emptiness she felt overwhelmed. The weight of the universe was crushing her lungs but for the first time, in what felt like an endless eternity of drowning, she could breathe. Her knees were weak and she could feel her body tremble in the palm of her hands. Dizzy from medication, she gathered some strength and pushed herself to stand up. She needed to get on with her life, looking back was not going to change her situation. It would only feed the hate and guilt that the world was consistently pushing down her throat. Her hands trembled slowly up her face to assert that she was actually still alive.
The past fortnight had been an out of body experience, she had been alone, helpless and trapped. A subtle wet sensation met her fingertips- she was crying. She wasn’t sure how long she had been crying or if anyone had been listening to her sobs. She looked at her reflection on the window. That partial reflection brought gave her unexpected strength and clarity. She realized she had no regrets and she wasn’t crying from guilt anymore. Some of her tears were of relief and the only thing stopping holding her back was fear…
The events leading up to that moment probably started a while back but to her, they started after she peed on a stick. She had walked up to a pharmacy about thirty minutes away from her home. She needed to do this for the sake of discretion, prying eyes never sleep when a girl is about to do something ‘shameful’. She bought a home pregnancy test and peed on the dreaded stick in a public toilet at a mall. She left that tiny cubicle with a sigh of relief when there was only one line-not pregnant. Two weeks later, after a month of missed period, she fell into a state of panic. Despite the proof she had she knew something was off. She had heard of stories before of false negatives and faulty kits. At that point, something in her took over as she needed to make her decisions with precise haste. She concocted a series of absurd symptoms geared towards getting a blood test that would give her the information that she needed.
“Congratulations honey, you are not sick you are pregnant…about six weeks from the look of things, ” said a radiologist.
In that uncomfortably pale room, with the stinging scent of disinfectant, her whole life flashed before her eyes. A nurse came in to help her get dressed since she was in shock and could not make a coherent speech or coordinated movement. Everything zoomed into a blur and at some point, she vaguely heard the question “didn’t you use protection?” and a few other statements that brought more confusion…something about safe days and the word contraception came up too. Realizing that she was not okay, the nurse stopped her rumbling to calm her and asked if there was anyone she could call. While in that dazed state, she made her way out of the room. A series of thoughts went through her mind, everything seemed to be flashing past her while she was stuck in slow motion. All that was left was her thoughts, loud, confused and racy. The whispers of her mind took out everything else, they snapped out everything on their way until all that was left was an emptiness that was almost peaceful.
The next hours passed like the scenes on a trailer of a horror movie. She was walking out of the hospital, then she was smelling an intoxicating concentration of disinfectant, suddenly there was a white robe and a dim light, the room was small and its walls excreted fear. Her legs were parted, her back on some slightly wet linen, eyes half open, dizzy…then the scene panned out in darkness. The light was back on speed part of the “trailer” A gurney was speeding through a hallway, rushed steps and quick instructions were being passed in some jargon, blood and a whole lot of it flooded one half of the stretcher, and a pale looking unconscious girl lay motionless on the gurney that was moving towards a room.
A familiar touch on her shoulder calmed her momentarily, it was the same nurse from two weeks before. The nurse wore an expression that carried out a conversation she had already had within herself. It was a conversation that had led her to the fastest and the hardest decision she would ever have to make.
“Shh…I won’t tell, I understand,” the nurse said and helped her back to the bed
Abortion is real whether we approve of it or not. It is possible that we have taken too much time arguing about the legality and morality of abortion that we failed to pay attention to the fact that millions of women are dying due to unsafe abortions (about 25 million annually). Restricting access to abortions does not reduce the number of abortions but it increases the chances of the occurrence of unsafe abortions. There are also millions of women who have gone through abortions and have to deal with the emotional and psychological hardship from the exclusion, judgment, and guilt society throws their way. Instead of receiving love and support. There is no woman or girl that sits down wishing to get an unplanned, complicated or unwanted pregnancy.
There are times when we need to question ourselves about what is more important. Often we fail to ask ourselves why people go through abortions in the first place. These situations come up because the sexuality and sexual health of women are often dismissed in many parts of the world. They have resulted in a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, un-affordable maternal healthcare, limited or no sex education and the unfortunate production of counterfeit contraception and pregnancy kits.
If we empowered people with information and resources to make decisions concerning their bodies and lives we might not need to argue about whether abortion is right or wrong as we will have a chance to prevent it. We need to acknowledge the fact that there is a need to prevent abortion and to ensure that women have access to safe abortion when they need it. Abortion is more than just a moral issue: it is a medical, policy, and human rights issue.