When I was 16, my best friend came to me after being raped by a date. She had kept the assault a secret, even from me, until it was clear she was pregnant. We were in high school, unmarried, minimum wage part time jobs, little money. She knew she could not cope with a pregnancy and she certainly could not provide for a child. She was frantic and desperate for an abortion. She was also terrified that adults in her life would find out about the pregnancy and, if it happened, the abortion. She knew her family would not support her. She made me swear I would not tell any adults and she begged me to help her get to Halifax.
I remember being on the pay phone at the Confederation Mall – the only place we could access a phone away from parents and teachers – calling the Morgentaler Clinic trying to find a way to get there. When the staff told me she could not go alone, I knew we were toast. Neither of us could drive and even if we could, we had no car. Now we were both terrified and under incredible stress.
I kept my word and did not tell. But as time was ticking away and we knew her window was closing, the stress became so bad I had a meltdown at my part time job. As I was crying, my co-worker said, “You need to tell someone”. I told a trusted adult with my friend’s permission and that adult helped us access the services we needed. That adult accompanied my best friend to the clinic and helped her get home.
We never told a soul.
Not only were we unable to access any help on PEI, she was unable to access any follow up care. We’re lucky in that she did not have complications. Looking back, if she had, I’m not sure what would have happened.
It is unacceptable that we live in a province where scared young women are having to try to access health care via a pay phone at the mall. We need change. We needed change 20 years ago.
Kelly, Charlottetown PE