Jane Doe 27

My story: Putting experiences into written words has been difficult, I have started, stopped, erased and begun over a good dozen times. I have had to procedures and when this has come up in conversation (I am not shy) many people make that face, the “how dare you use it like birth control”. Well I didn’t, I was in my early 20’s and fertile, many seen it as a blessing…at the time I felt cursed. No matter how careful we were it seemed to do little in preventing pregnancy.

I became a mother at 17 and a mother of two by 20, this was not how I expected life to be. However, I was ignorant to abortion and had never considered such a thing for myself. Some friends had been down that road but I had a firm belief that it wasn’t for me. And then that cycle of poverty hit, I had been born into a single parent home on assistance…as I grew up life was chaos, my biological father came and went, I was bounced between family and friends. This lifestyle definitely impacted me in a negative way that seeking the wrong type of attention followed, and while I was having “safe sex” I became part of the teen mother club. My mother was vocal that I was to accept my responsibility in having the baby, and I did—twice. Struggling to raise my children on little income, social assistance refused every application I made. Their father was much like mine, in and out whenever it suited–an added stress but I kept going. I finished high school on time with my first child in toe, I started and finished college with two children in toe. Along my journey in college I became pregnant again, I was barely able to pay rent–living off of my CCTB ($720/month). I had pay day loans, daycare bills, rent and all the bills that a typical household had, plus two little mouths and no job because I spent 9-4 in class. My boyfriend worked but didn’t live with me and was very nervous about having a baby, we weren’t young nor old but I did not feel ready to have another mouth to feed when I was already going days without eating to feed the children I had. So I did what we all do, I went to google and thought “I can’t believe I am doing this”, screaming at myself the entire time I was researching my options. I eventually (with GREAT difficulty) found the website for the clinic in Fredriction, I read everything they had on their site and made the call. I wasn’t sure what to expect while I waited for someone to answer, when the call picked up a warm voice calmly told me what I could expect if this was the decision for me. Knowing I was from PEI she made my appointment for the soonest date and as I was getting ready to hang up (shaking as I never have before) she told me “honey, you are not the first or the last woman to do this, and it will be ok, forgive yourself”. I hung up and cried, mixed emotions were flooding from all directions, but this is what was best for my family. I was lucky, the hurdles for me at that point were little to none, my boyfriend provided me the money for the procedure, gas and bridge—he offered to come with me but I preferred another friend, less emotionally attached to the situation, he respected this and my decision—it was for all of us, not just me or him.

The clinic staff were very welcoming, warm and kind. The counseling provided before and after was a small comfort, I was in charge of my life and they empowered that. The only alarming thing that was said to me was regarding emergency after care if I needed it (which I would). I had been told that if I need ER care to not tell them what had taken place, if I did it was possible that I wouldn’t be provided care and it could endanger my health. I thought “wow there is no way that would happen”, little did I know 24 hours later I had an extremely high fever and I wasn’t passing any blood. I timidly went to the ER and held vast to not telling them what took place, I required an emergency D&C. After all of this my emotional stability was on the brink, my boyfriend stayed with me the entire time(thankfully)—during the night I had a nurse come into the room for the routine vital check, she seemed to be very aware of the procedure I under went days before. She looked at my boyfriend and I very sternly while saying “you’re lucky you didn’t tell him (the doctor) the truth, he is very against what you did, and had he known you could of been in serious trouble if he didn’t give you the D&C”. Total shock, a doctor could not refuse a woman care I had assumed, this haunts me to this day.

Life went on and I celebrated the good days and mourned the bad, and again became pregnant. We both had been careful, I was on birth control and it failed me (has done so 3 times). Before anyone asks, I was taking a form that did not require it to be administered the same time each day so the fault is unknown. So again we were faced with the question of what do we do, never what do I do, I was lucky. We couldn’t afford to go to the clinic again, and our relationship was becoming strained leaving me to look into the matter with a friend. I then discovered that the province does allow for the procedure to be covered in HALIFAX, oh dear. I called a number in Halifax, they referred me to a Doctor in Charlottetown, and told me I had to have blood work done and an ultra sound…I was shocked, this was all done at the clinic in NB, why was it different for Halifax. So I called this Dr, made an appointment and went. Well the Dr asked me about 15 times if I was sure this is what I wanted to do, that the procedure isn’t a form of birth control (thanks I didn’t know that) and that being a mom already I should know how to avoid pregnancy. Leaving that appointment I was emotionally drained but I went to the QEH for the blood work, the ultrasound was harder to obtain appointment wise. During my blood work the nurse refused to look at me, speak to me or breathe my way…again thanks, got the message on your PERSONAL opinion loud and clear. Next hoop, the ultrasound, fun, they sent me to the PCH for that–the technician again didn’t look or speak to me, she made odd noises when snapping the pictures and was extremely rough…I had two children and have had ultrasounds so I knew when someone was being a bit too aggressive (this tech has done all of my ultrasounds). At the end I was getting up to leave and I asked her very quietly if I could look, she gapped at me–mouth to the floor and asked “why on earth do you want to look if you’re going to kill it” and stormed out, thank you again PEI healthcare providers for sending me your personal opinions loud and clear. I had been second guessing myself during this hoop jumping, was I a bad person, is this the right decision etc so I wanted to look—I didn’t look, I was angry at this point with how they had all made me feel, how dare anyone make someone feel like their choices are wrong when they don’t know they why. Halifax was not any better, they make you come in what feels like the back way, have your escort wait in one wing of the hospital and take you all over (like a maze). I was left sitting in a room with 6 other women, we spoke here and there, discovering that we all had two or more children…and I was the only one not from NS. Some where shocked that I had to travel, pay bridge, gas and a hotel just to exercise my right to reproduce or not. There was no counseling before or after, it was like an assembly line.

Having two very different experience I hope that our government realizes that the decision does not come lightly, I myself and others I know are better at punishing ourselves regardless of where we go to have this procedure. This form of punishment that is happening on PEI is abuse, of the worst kind.
My relationship dissolved, and we are both in much better places than if we would have been forced to parent together.

I hope the government understands that things change, relationship grow and end, things evolve–now it is time for PEI to join the rest of Canada in treating women with dignity and equality.

I reserve the right to govern my uterus how I see fit, I have done it the pro-life way and I will always love my first two children more than humanly possible to express. It needs to be understood that many parenting journeys are not easy, poverty is real here in PEI. We have lived in poverty and overcome it, that is not always the case.

We have made a small step today in regards to access for women, I look forward to seeing and being a part of the evolution of access here on PEI.

I own my decision and I do not regret it, I am not a mother of three wonderful children, I married an amazing man and will go on to have more children, WHEN I SAY SO.

Love to all that have been on such a journey and compassion to those that will be on a similar journey.

Anonymous – PEI