“It starts almost the same for every woman in my position. For me it started with stuffing lemon juice up my vagina because I read somewhere that it caused miscarriages. I even ordered abortion pills online. If you want to do it, you do it. Thinking back now, if I opted for a steel hanger, or a knitting needle, I could have died. No way was I going to hospital if the abortion pills went wrong – to go to prison? Fuck that.
No morning after pill for me, it wasn’t being sold here. There was no option. It was at that moment that I knew what I needed. There was no speculation. No confusion, no doubt in my mind. I needed an abortion because there was no way I was going to have a child. I did not have a penny to my name. I had only one change of clothes because I had been kicked out of home.
I was taught abortion was wrong. I was a catholic, I used to go to church, and they made me watch the Silent Scream. None of that stuff worked. As long as you feel the need to do something that you know is going to positively affect the rest of your life, then that’s what you’re going to do, and no one else is going to decide that for you. And at that moment, no man, woman, priest, church goer or politician was going to decide for me. I pretty much spent every waking moment reading about medical abortion.
Then I come across it. That dreaded article that made my skin crawl. ‘The punishment and imprisonment for a term from eighteen months to three years shall be awarded against any woman who shall procure her own miscarriage, or who shall have consented to the use of the means by which the miscarriage is procured.’ ‘Punishment.’ ‘Imprisonment.’ ‘Woman.’ Our Father Who Art in Heaven, what the fuck?
Women on Web sent me an email saying that the pills would take 4-6 weeks to arrive. I couldn’t bare another second of being pregnant, let alone 4 weeks. I walked to the bridge in Valletta, and I might have spent an hour staring down. I wanted to jump. It was over, and there was nothing at that moment that would stop me from colliding with the pavement down below.
After some advice from a loved one who reached out, I decided that I was going to travel to the UK to have an abortion. I called myself lucky. I was lucky that my partner at the time had a good job. He could afford to take me to London for what I needed. Other women have not fared so well. How were they going to spend 700£ on a procedure alone, flights not included? How were they going to travel inconspicuously, alone and with no knowledge of what happens? Dear women, this country has failed us so.
I did not know anything. No one was talking about it. I knew no one who had been in my shoes and had the same procedure I was going to have. Lost, alone, feeling like a criminal, knots in my throat and in my stomach. A loved one got to know and threatened to call the police. What am I doing wrong? I buy the tickets, I book the appointment (I opted for a surgical abortion with sedation) and I’m off.
I step off the plane and I take a breath of fresh air. I’m no criminal here. I step into the clinic. 30 other women at least, sitting and waiting, all of different ages and walks of life. I wait and wait. I’m so nervous. Waiting and nerves, waiting and nerves. My appointment is delayed so I wait some more. Finally, I’m in a room with about 5 other women. We’re all sitting on a bench in front of a TV screen, showing what happened to be one of my favourite movies. The doctor calls me in and he’s surrounded by sweet and chummy nurses who are full of laughter and smiles. They ask me questions about sunny Malta. Before I have some time to respond about how it’s not so sunny, I feel the cold anaesthetic up my arm and I’m out.
I wake up and I cry because it’s finally over, and I’m no longer a prisoner inside my own body. I’m on a sitting gurney next to another 15 women. The woman next to me stands and gives me a big hug. This still brings tears to my eyes. We had a chat, and she was one of the loveliest women I had ever met in my life. She had 3 kids, one of which had special needs and she just couldn’t continue with her pregnancy. I wish I knew her name, she made me feel so comforted when I needed it most. I step out to a surprise box of fish and chips. The best fucking meal I have ever eaten in my life. It was over. And I was going to enjoy the rest of my trip with a show.
People who tell you that women regret their abortions are LYING. People who tell you that women who have abortions are butchering their unborn children are lying. People who tell you that abortions are dangerous are lying. I have a good career, I’m successful and I’m happy that I took control of my life. When I heard about the bill to decriminalise abortion, I cried and I cried and I cried. Finally, our voices are being validated, maybe one day women will not have to go through what I went through.
Thank you for reading my story.”