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Story 69 - 19.08.2023

"I want to share my story, and have wanted to do so for a long time.

I'm an expat single mother of 2, with no real support in Malta. 1 year after my marital separation, I found a healthy and loving relationship, with a wonderful man, whom I had hoped to spend my life with. 1 year later, Covid struck. I remained employed, although my salary was low, and my budget was very tight. My usual oral contraceptive went out of stock within 3 months, and I was given an alternative oral contraceptive. It made me sick, gave me stomach issues, altered my cycle entirely, but I persevered, tracked my cycles and sometimes used condoms, in a failed effort to protect myself. I skipped my first period after starting with the new pill, and tested for pregnancy... not pregnant, despite being 5 weeks since my last bleed. I tested 3 times and concluded it was simply a change of contraception. But then, I skipped another period... 2 more tests provided the same outcome - not pregnant. Then, another week passed, by which time I couldn't eat more than a few bites before nausea set in, and got when dizzy getting into bed, so I tested again. Pregnant. At this point, deep down, I knew, but I still howled, and made noises I never knew possible. I know what it is to have a baby and raise a child, the love is like no other. My partner, as wonderful a man as he is, never wanted children, and I already had fears about our future as a couple, despite how much I loved him. The noises I made came from a place inside me that knew I couldn't do this. Not emotionally, not financially, not alone. The next day, I told my partner. He was shocked, but calm and his ever-rational self. I told him I couldn't do it, and we looked at our options, together. The biggest concern was that we didn't know how far along I was. My cycle was a complete mess, and I hadn't skipped just 1 period, but 2... how far along was I? I didn't feel safe getting a dating scan in Malta and having the authorities know I was pregnant. I was scared that having to wait 2 weeks for the delivery of abortion pills I'd be close to the 12 week limit, and if something went wrong taking them, I'd get caught, go to prison, and lose my children. Due to my financial situation though, they were my first choice. Thankfully, my partner was able to give me another option; to travel to a clinic overseas. We picked a clinic in Austria. A simple email sufficed to have an appointment booked and we travelled a week later. I arrived at the clinic and they took the 650€ payment. They could not understand why I was there... abortion is legal in England... but I don't live in England, do I? I live in Malta. When I explained the laws here, with even more restrictions than in Poland, they were shocked and appalled. They treated me with so much kindness and understanding, it was almost overwhelming. All you have to do here in Malta is mention the word 'abortion', and you're shamed and labeled as a murderer. I was taken to have a scan to date my pregnancy. Given the situation, the doctor said if I was more than 11 weeks + 6 days, they wouldn't be able to terminate. As it transpired, I was nowhere near 11+6. I saw my baby on screen, my little blob, that, believe what you want, I loved. I changed into a dressing gown, and folded my clothes into a pile. I was then taken to another room where they took my hand as I got onto the surgical chair, and lifted my gown as I layed down. Next thing I knew, I could taste the anaesthesia, and fell asleep. In what felt like 2 minutes, I was awake. The nurses lifted my arms to help me sit up, then stand. I stumbled, my legs still asleep, and they helped me to a bedroom. White walls and crisp clean sheets, it could've easily passed for a hotel room. I was given a paracetamol, and a sugar tablet. Within 5 minutes , I was ready to dress into my clothes, which had been moved to my room. I got up, asked if i needed to sign anything at reception, then left... And then cried on the stairs, for the little life that I'd chosen to take, that I also knew I couldn't support properly. 2 years on, I still think of him every day. Was it easy to go through? No. But I don't regret my choice. I've not once regretted it, and I'm not emotionally scarred for life, despite the repetitive suggestion that I should, by pro-birthers here in Malta who will fight for the unborn, while turning a blissful eye towards the born children struggling around them. I am eternally grateful for my now ex-partner, who offered me a choice which I couldn't have afforded otherwise. I'm grateful for my right to travel, which in turn allowed me to access a form of health care considered legal in almost every other civilised European country. I'm grateful to the incredible medical professionals in Austria, who saw me for what I am: A woman with the right to choose. Malta has a lot of catching up to do."

- Emmy


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