I booked an appointment at the abortion clinic for four weeks later. I had hyperemesis gravidarum (which most people now know about because Kate Middleton had it), so I spent those four weeks throwing up. I was very, very sick. When I finally went to the clinic for “the procedure” (no-one said the word “abortion”), I opted for the twilight sedation, because it cost $400 compared with $800 for general anesthetic. I still had to get my sister to help me pay for it. I was given an ultrasound, then led into a closet-like room where I took off all of my clothes and put on a paper gown, before being taken to the operating theatre. I’m not going to lie: “the procedure” was excruciatingly painful. It felt like someone stabbing a blunt knitting needle in and out of me, incredibly deeply. I was hesitant to admit that, because I don’t want to scare any woman who makes the choice to abort a pregnancy. When I woke up, I was a bit disorientated and confused, but the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t feel sick anymore. The nausea was gone! I was just so happy and relieved to be done with it
When I was approached to be a part of Choice Words, a collection of essays on abortion, I was nervous. Firstly because I didn’t feel any sense of regret about having an abortion. And secondly because I’ve had two of them. When I felt that familiar wave of nausea less than a year after my first abortion, I thought, “Oh my gosh, not again.” I went back to the same doctor and booked into the same clinic. The only difference was I paid for the general anesthetic the second time around.
At the time, I was very ashamed that I’d let it happen twice. My chapter in Choice Words is called, “The slutty whore from whoresville making us all look bad.” I felt like I’d embarrassed my gender. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised having more than one abortion is so common. I think the pro-choice rally cry “safe, legal and rare” is shitty. It should be “safe, legal and nobody’s business”.
It feels like you’re allowed to tell your abortion story, but the price of admission is that you have to have been completely anguished about the decision and regret it for the rest of your life. That was never my experience. I had two abortions in 12 months and I don’t feel guilty about them. I went on to study writing at university and now I’m a professional writer. I wouldn’t have this life if I hadn’t been able to make those choices about my body. More than anything, I feel lucky. I hope, one day, abortion is seen as just another medical procedure. Because that’s what it is. We all know that if men had to get abortions they’d cost $10 at a vending machine.
Choice Words edited by Louise Swinn (Allen & Unwin, $29.99) is out now.
This article originally appeared in the May Issue of marie claire Australia.