My story: I chose to have an abortion when I was 20 years old after finding out that I was pregnant. I suspect my experience is fairly typical. I was a university student (as was my boyfriend — now my husband — at the time) so we were broke. While I would have received support from my parents had I chosen to continue with the pregnancy, I know with certainty that my boyfriend/husband’s family would have disowned him. We both knew we were unprepared and ill-equipped to raise a child and thus made the difficult decision to end the pregnancy. We had to borrow money from my roommate and travelled to Halifax to the private clinic. I had spoken to a few health care providers (before and after) in PEI about my decision and receive very little information or guidance. One councillor at the university advised that she couldn’t see me any longer because she opposed abortion. So my boyfriend/husband and I travelled to Halifax in January 1994. After the procedure, we needed to come back to PEI because we had absolutely no money to stay over in Halifax. But by this time, it was a raging, blinding snow storm and the drive that should have taken 3 hours to get to the ferry took almost 8 and the drive from the ferry to Charlottetown took well over 3 hours. But we had no choice. I guess that’s the operative word “Choice”. For me/us, it was the right decision given the circumstances and I truly have no regrets. I am of course saddened that I/we were in that situation. I also want to clarify a few misgivings that seems to be perpetuated in the media but individuals who oppose abortion. Not all women who chose abortion are raped or “careless”. The reality is that birth control is not 100% effective. For me, my doctor switched me from a 21 day (constant estrogen) birth control pill to a version that fluctuates the amount of estrogen every 7 days. I specifically asked if I was going to be protected during the first month on this “new” version of the pill because I know that the birth control pill is not affective the first month. I was assured I was protected, but clearly I was not because I became pregnant during that first month on the new doses of pills, despite taking them as directed. I informed my doctor and he just shrugged. I also want to say I have had no negative repercussions from my decision to terminate my pregnancy. Yes, I felt sad. But I certainly did not suffer any mental or physical health problems. My boyfriend and I got married 7 years later and then, when we were ready, had a perfect baby boy whom we both cherish and love. We are devoted parents. We were both also able to finish our education. I have 4 degrees (three at the graduate level) and my husband has two. We are both very successful professionally, but this would have been near impossible if we had become parents at 20 years of age. Abortion is not something that people chose to do “for fun.” The reality is that birth control isn’t 100% effective. The reality is that the responsibility to raise a child continues to disproportionally fall on the woman’s lap. The reality is that raising a child before you are physically, emotionally, and financially ready is a huge burden and causes enormous stress for many many women. The reality is that society continues to perpetuate income disparity for way too many women across all professions and occupations. The reality is that quality affordable child care and reliable health care can be incredibly hard to find. Until we find a 100% fool-proof form of birth control (beyond abstinence), make quality child care available and accessible for all families, see fathers take on a full 50% of all parenting responsibilities, and pay women fairly for their contributions to our economy and society, there will continue to be a need for and demand for abortion services in this world. I applaud the PEI government for taking a positive first step in making abortion services a bit easier for women by making the service available in Moncton and removing the arcane requirement to have a referral. But there is more to be done.
Anonymous – PEI