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9 Fashion Journal readers share their experiences with abortion

WORDS BY DAISY HENRY

“I don’t regret my abortion, it was the right decision for the situation at the time.”

Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault and domestic violence

Though we may be watching from across the other side of the world, the news that the United States Supreme Court has voted to overturn the landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade (according to an initial draft majority opinion), is alarming. If passed, it would end federal constitutional protection of abortion rights in the United States, leaving it up to individual states to decide whether to implement restrictions or ban abortion altogether.

While this doesn’t spell the end of abortion in Australia, it’s an important reminder of how vital access to abortion is for womxn’s sexual and reproductive health, and that we should continue to normalise conversations around it. When I think about the womxn in my life, while we might speak about abortion in abstract, philosophical terms, I’ve never heard anyone directly share their experiences.


Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.


But if one-quarter to one-third of womxn in Australia will have an abortion in their lifetime, it doesn’t mean people aren’t having them – it means they’re not talking about it. Although we might be starting to overcome other taboos surrounding topics like sex, masturbation and gender roles, it still feels as though abortion stories are somewhat stigmatised, and are often absent from our conversations.

It leaves me wondering if this will be made worse as events unfold in the US, and abortion is used as a political tool. But on our own shores, abortion-related stigma is made worse by the fact that there are still significant barriers to abortion access in Australia, the implication that it’s something womxn must go through alone, and the expectation that we’ll then act as if it never happened. In an effort to challenge the taboo, we asked Australians to share their abortion stories.

28, she/her

I was 26, with a new partner, both my parents were sick and it wasn’t the right time in my life by any means. I went to my GP and they suggested Marie Stopes. I tried the medical abortion pill but ended up having to go in for a surgical abortion. It was obviously a harrowing experience I will never forget, but I don’t regret it for a second.

It was the right choice for me and I feel lucky to have had the financial ability to make that choice. [It’s] almost unbelievable we are witnessing what’s happening in the US in 2022 at the hands of a bunch of old White men. The ramifications for gender equality and equal rights in the US and globally are plain to see.

30 they/them

My first abortion was after what I would best describe as a ‘slut stage’ [where I was] faking empowerment by dismissing my mental and physical safety through having unprotected sex with multiple people in a short period of time. To this day I am unsure who I got pregnant with. I knew immediately I was pregnant and didn’t hesitate to seek an abortion. I obviously never contacted any of the men it could have been. I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends who helped me through the process.

Eight months later I got pregnant again with my partner at the time. Before I even told him I had booked an appointment at the clinic. His reaction was to propose to me, which I hated. It was already an abusive relationship and this was the final sign that I knew I needed to get out. Had I carried either of these pregnancies through I would not have been able to complete my degree and work towards my career and would be tied to men who in reality, couldn’t have supported me financially or emotionally. I am grateful to live in a country where I have easy access to abortion, in clinics where the staff are non-judgmental and supportive.

To be able to choose the terms of when I become a parent and with who, [is] incredibly empowering. I know neither of my pregnancies was at the right time, or with the right people. I was consciously born into the world by two loving parents and I would like to do the same when I am ready. It scares me that the future of abortion access in Australia could potentially lead down the same path as America, where mostly conservative men are making choices about the bodies of those who can get pregnant. It’s a gross concept that we don’t have the autonomy over our own bodies and futures.

17, she/her

I was 14 at the time. I was in a happy relationship with my ex, everything was perfect until I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared and frightened, barely being a teenager myself. I didn’t want to tell my boyfriend at the time and still have never told him even after not being together for roughly three years. I never told my parents or his parents.

I was a kid wondering how the hell I would go about this. My friend’s mum helped me through it all and helped me get an abortion, and still to this day, I thank her. I think about it now and how things may be different if I didn’t go ahead with the abortion. But I was a kid, barely able to take care of myself. It’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life.

36, she/her

I was 24 and then 26 the second time. The first time was my first pregnancy and the baby had genetic issues. It was done in Victoria (I lived there back then) [and] I got access to it through the specialist who I was seeing. I didn’t know what to expect and dealt with my emotions and personal health concerns as though nothing had happened. The second time, I was on thyroid meds and my GP recommended it. I had it done in NSW through a GP referral. It was done at home and it was the loneliest experience ever. I was married to the same person on both occasions.

The amount of support available for people who make these decisions versus for ‘involuntary’ losses is day and night. [The issue of abortion] goes way beyond ‘my body, my say’. Having the ability to choose enables the woman involved to be able to make calm decisions based on factual, circumstantial and personal information. There are people that are already judgemental about these decisions only because they don’t know what it’s like to consider how the life of the baby may be and whether they will live with the freedom they deserve and with a mother who is mentally stable or available.

This is something that governments won’t know and [they] should leave it for the mum to decide. The government should be here to provide options instead of providing people reasons to hide and do procedures in obscure places. If the US goes through with shutting down these rights, it is only a matter of time before Australia will follow in its footsteps. I’m hoping we’re much more mature about it and don’t follow suit.

32, she/her

I had my first when I was 19 [and] another a little later on. The first was traumatic physically, and the second was a mindfuck emotionally. My parents are relatively progressive, but I went through the Catholic education system which was very ‘sex is bad, mmmkay’ and didn’t really arm me with the knowledge I needed to a) fully understand consent or why I was even having sex and b) then practice it safely.

For the most part, I try not to think about it too much, but over the years my anger and frustration spike when the conversation about attempts to police and politicise the bodies of people with a uterus arises.

37, she/her

I was 24 and one year into a relationship. There was no question at all that I needed to have an abortion. I was not emotionally stable enough to even consider bringing a child into the world. My mum had just been diagnosed with stage four cancer and I was still working through some past sexual assault trauma. After doing an at-home pregnancy test my boyfriend and I went straight to the doctor and received the confirmation. I immediately asked about options to abort, which was not well received by the male doctor in front of me.

The whole process from there was a constant fight to prove that I was of [a] sane mind and wasn’t going to regret the decision. At one point I remember bursting into tears after being berated with questions. The procedure and recovery were quick and painless. I was back feeling ‘normal’ after about 36 hours. I have never for a second had any regrets and dread to think how my life could have turned out if the option wasn’t there for a safe and free abortion.

28 she/they

I got an abortion when I was 16. I was a sexually active teenager without a proper understanding of the consequences of my actions. When I found out about my pregnancy, there was only one option available in my mind, I kept it a secret for the longest time out of shame, eventually, my mum found out and helped me with the process.

The only times available for me at the clinic were during school hours so I had to skip school. I left my pregnancy so long that I almost couldn’t have the termination but was able to do it surgically, which was actually a blessing as I didn’t have to experience [a] miscarriage on the toilet as others have. I have never once regretted my decision in 12 years, but I do think about it a lot still.

40 she/her

[I had an] accidental pregnancy [due to] failed contraception at age 25 in 2007. [I] didn’t want to have a child at that time – it was not my time to be a mother. [The] hospital told me they didn’t offer abortions as they were a Catholic hospital and suggested I talk to my GP. [My] GP gave me the details of the clinic and I contacted them and booked in. [My] partner at the time refused to contribute to the cost, but fortunately I could just afford the $320 on my credit card. [I] had a low income at the time that only covered my living expenses.

I was relieved that I could access the option. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but [it] was smooth and medically uncomplicated. [I] had a general [anaesthetic] and a surgical abortion. [I’ve] never questioned my decision. [It] was definitely the right choice. I felt guilty about it for many years because I thought I was supposed to feel bad or regret it and I have never regretted it, ever. But then I read Clementine Ford’s book, Fight Like a Girl, and felt such a release. Haven’t felt a shred of guilt since.

35 she/her

I was a 26-year-old mum of one daughter who was three at the time. I was in a high-risk domestic violence relationship and [was] questioning bringing another child into such a violent environment. This made me realise I could no longer keep myself or [my] existing child in such a situation. I accessed a phone number from a friend who had accessed an abortion previously, phoned and made the booking. I had the abortion at a clinic in East Melbourne [in] Victoria in 2012.

Protesters were present and [it was] extremely intimidating. It was completely overwhelming. I had a friend support me. I wanted to have access to these options in my previous pregnancy but was told by my doctor in Queensland that it was not an option due to laws and as I did not have a medical condition she would not be able to discuss this as an option for me to consider.

To read more about what is happening to abortion access in the United States, head here.

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