Saturday, November 3, 2018

Termination


I had an abortion. I already had two children. I was informed about foetal development. I also knew and accepted that my health rights came before those of an embryo or foetus; my human rights came before those of an embryo or foetus that only existed because of my body. 

I told my GP I wanted an abortion. She was very supportive and organised an appointment with the abortion clinic in my area. At the abortion clinic I had to convince a doctor, a psychologist, a nurse and a surgeon that I understood the implications of having an abortion and that I still wanted to go ahead with the procedure. 

The psychologist offered me counselling. But she also made it clear to me that I would only be allowed to have an abortion if she and the doctors considered my mental health would be impacted negatively by keeping the baby, which is to say, I had to pretend that I would be mentally ill if I was not granted access to a procedure to remove something from my body that I did not want there. 

The nurse talked about the foetus’ heartbeat and asked what I wanted to happen to the products of conception – the same terms had been used to describe the three foetuses I miscarried before having my children. It felt like I was being guilt-tripped, but the nurse assured me she was just making sure I wanted to go ahead with the abortion.

The surgeon tried to pressure me into having a contraceptive coil inserted during the procedure. When I declined, he laughed at me and proceeded to mock me. I can still hear his laughter. His undertaking of the procedure triggered sexual assaults I had survived from the age of eleven. 

Having no autonomy over one’s own body is traumatising; having no choice is traumatising; having to lie about one’s mental health is traumatising; and having to suffer the social stigmatisation, not from the wider community but from the health professionals who, because of legal constraints, are not giving the health care they are meant to, is traumatising. 

Since having an abortion I have been pregnant twice. I miscarried one pregnancy. I am pregnant now, because pregnancy is my choice. I didn’t have to break the law to get pregnant or to miscarry, and no person should be forced into potentially breaking the law in order to choose to end a pregnancy.  

The most distressing part of having an abortion in New Zealand is not wrangling with the philosophical dilemma of where humanity starts for the foetus but when one’s own human rights will be considered.






If you're interested in New Zealand's abortion debate history, read this Auckland Libraries Research Centre blog.

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