This is my abortion story:

I had just recently moved to Toronto from Halifax, and was already drowning with a full time internship, as well as two jobs to pay the bills. I had carelessly slept with someone over the Christmas holidays, and within a week I had “the feeling”. The feeling consisted of a gnawing dread that we weren’t careful enough. It’s so hard to explain when the symptoms so closely mirror how I feel before I get my period. My mind kept returning to that night and going over each step of the interaction. Even though common sense told me I was fine, I knew. I was pregnant. I had always known that I would have an abortion if I was in this situation, so I started looking into locations, etc, immediately. In Toronto, I was lucky to have many different abortion clinics at my disposal, but I didn’t have an Ontario health card, or the $400 it would cost to have my abortion at a clinic. Luckily in Ontario, an abortion is free of cost when administered through a hospital. So, there I found myself on February 15 (they offered me an appointment on valentines day but the irony was a little too painful).

I have to reiterate how incredible my experience was. Every step of the way, I had support from the staff, who made sure to explain everything that was happening, and made sure I wasn’t being pressured into it by an unsafe home environment. Because of a heart condition, they felt it was safer to do my surgical abortion under general anesthetic in an operating room, rather than a room at the women’s clinic of the hospital. It’s a scary thing, and while I was terrified, I was sure. This was not my baby, and the father agreed. I was doing this because the babies I have will be welcomed happily into a healthy home, with two parents and hopefully stability. I’m too thoughtful and cautious to be throwing everything to wind because of one drunken night. Some might say I was unabashedly selfish, but I don’t regret it.

Now, the reason I’m sharing my story even though it doesn’t take place on the east coast is because every woman should have access to the kind of care I received. I had two counseling sessions beforehand, and up to five free counseling sessions after, of which I only used a few. Every medical need was taken care of for weeks before and after. Only once did they ask me if I was sure this was what I wanted, and I’m glad they asked, because it gave me the opportunity to say my reasons aloud to another person instead of keeping it my internal mantra. I went from the sheer panic of holding that pee covered stick in the staff bathroom on my lunch break, in tears, to an incredibly supportive environment of women whose sole job was to help me.

I felt a mixture of emotions after my abortion. I grieved the loss, welcomed the return of my youth, I dreaded having to explain my absence, but mainly I just felt relief. The idea that women don’t have free access to such an important, life-altering thing is shameful. These are women who need to be supported by society and medicine, not shunned by them. All we want is the option, the right to make our own choices. It’s our lives, and I wholeheartedly believe that happy mothers who are ready will raise happy children.

Thank you for listening.

Julia – Toronto