I come from a country where abortion is legal but due to my personal circumstances, I found myself in a country where it is not. I had a boyfriend (the reason I was in Argentina), but our relationship was very new. I worked as a seafarer, I was in a catch-22 situation of having a job that could support a child but I would have to give up that job as a result of a pregnancy. My boyfriend was great and willing to support me but I knew it was not the right moment. I had no home at that point - I had been travelling for 3 years and I had no stability at all. I would have been more irresponsible to continue with the pregnancy than to take the decision to abort my pregnancy.
I still have very strong feelings over my right to have an abortion and I am fully supportive of any woman who wants one. I do not think any conservative 50 year old white politician has the knowledge or the right to decide the future of my body, or anyone else's. However, I do feel that a big part of my emotional and psychological response both before and afterwards was caused by the stigma attached to abortion in Argentina. I feel that if I had been in the UK (or some other place where it is legal) then I would have felt safe, and supported and un-judged and cared for by the medical professionals who help you through that process. My boyfriends family are firmly anti-abortion and say things very publicly about women who get them, and that "if they knew someone had had an abortion, they would never speak to them again," - I really struggle to hear those things as I want to shout from the rooftops that I did and are they not going to continue to talk to me and my boyfriend as a result?
Initially I was prescribed the abortion pills but they did not work for me. I bled a little bit but it did not completely abort the foetus. The doctor said that now the only option was a surgical procedure. In Argentina, as it is illegal, you go to a doctor who writes you separate prescriptions for all the things they need to carry out the abortion. You cannot buy them all in the same pharmacy as the pharmacist will know what the combination of drugs is for. My boyfriend did all this part for me. We then went to the clinic, which just seemed to be an apartment in a normal apartment building. They did a sonogram to confirm the pregnancy was still there - which it was - and that is the part I remember most vividly - I could see the little 'bean' on the screen inside the amniotic sac - I knew exactly what it was and it was so hard to see. They gave me a sedative and I was knocked out. As I woke up - the first thing I saw was the screen of the sonogram again with nothing there - they had obviously done another to confirm they had removed everything. That made me feel physically, emotionally and psychologically empty. I was taken out to the waiting room where my boyfriend was waiting. The doctor told me to sit there and wait for the sedative to wear off. I felt so ashamed, so sick and disgusted with myself, so angry, so emotional that I just felt I needed to leave there and be anywhere but that place. I told my boyfriend I needed to leave. He asked the doctor and he told me if I could walk back and forwards to the door (about 5m away) twice without passing out/fainting, then I could leave. I was so determined to get out of that place that I did it, even though as I stood up everything went black. The doctor gave me antibiotics (which because it was all very rushed, were a type I am allergic to, and he had to go back and change them) and we left. My boyfriend practically carried me down in the elevator to the street where I fainted. He put me in a taxi and took me home.
Did the illegality of your abortion affect your feelings?
Very much so.
How did other people react to your abortion?
My friends in the UK, people who I consider to be very open-minded and non judgmental were supportive and said it was my decision. None of my boyfriends (Argentine) family know. They are very religious Catholics and it is not something he is comfortable telling them.
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