I call my response mindless because I had never thought deeply about why I was, or rather, why I thought I was pro-life. It just seemed to be politically correct, and more so because I grew up in the church.
But it took a crisis, an unwanted pregnancy, to turn my stand and thoughts on abortion upside down.
It all happened so fast.
I had just completed my degree and landed a coveted internship at an NGO. I felt so lucky. Life was just beginning for me and the world was my oyster.
I was what you would call the ‘good girl’. When I started working, I was shy, but my supervisor was kind and patient with me. He started inviting me to lunch to ‘mentor’ me.
And being the naïve girl I was, I jumped at the opportunity. Lunch turned into weekend adventures and trips outside the city.
My older female colleagues noticed something was amiss.
‘Tracy, be careful. The man is married. You might be unaware of this, but he has a reputation for cheating interns and dumping them.’
By this time, I had started liking my supervisor a lot and I just did not want to hear it.
I knew things were getting serious when we were walking one weekend and he grabbed and kissed me. I felt a rush through my body and I hate to admit it, I didn’t really care that I might be hurting his wife.
Then he took me to Dubai. I felt on top of the world. Up until that point, I did not even have a passport.
I felt like I had found the one, as silly as it sounds.
During our trip, we shared a room and had sex. Without protection.
I had never bothered to find out about contraception because I was not having sex. It never dawned on me that I could get pregnant the first time.
Well, weeks later, my period failed to show up on the expected day.
I didn’t think much about it and even joked with my supervisor: ‘what if I’m pregnant’.
He laughed it off but was uneasy. ‘Did you take your pills?’ he asked.
‘What pills?’ I said.
He looked disgusted. And said, ‘You’re a woman. You should know these things and follow a schedule of contraception.’
That was our first fight.
More days passed and still, my period hadn’t shown up.
On day 15 post-expected period date, I decided to take a pregnancy test. I wanted to ask my supervisor to take me to buy the kit. But seeing as he had stopped talking to me, I decided to go alone.
It hurt that he hadn’t bother to inquire if my period ever had come.
Well, the pregnancy test turned out positive and when I told my supervisor about it, he told me to get rid of it.
I was hurt because I thought he loved me. But honestly, I wasn’t ready for a child either.
I took the money he gave me and spent a few days wondering whether I should get an abortion or keep the pregnancy. I finally went to a clinic.
I was all alone. I thought of telling my mother, but I was too scared. She would be angry and disappointed.
At the clinic, it was estimated that it was still safe for me to have a medical abortion, but it would be painful.
The other option was a surgical abortion. The doctor advised me to do this because it was a ‘one-off procedure’. That I would bleed briefly, but be okay the same day.
With the medical option on the other hand, I would have to take two pills at different, specific times and would have heavy bleeding for up to 10 days.
I wanted to be over and done with the ordeal, so I picked the surgical option. But when I went to the operating room and saw the surgical tools, I froze and started crying uncontrollably.
The doctor advised I take the pills instead. I did. And had bleeding for several days. I had to change my pad every hour.
I didn’t go to work. In fact, you could say I absconded duty. I didn’t want to see my supervisor ever again.
I know they say overwhelming guilt comes with the procedure, but I felt relief.
I didn’t want to be one of those mothers who hates her child because it reminds her of betrayal.
It's been 10 years since I got that abortion and I’m married now with two children.
I am pro-choice. And that does not make me anti-life.
We all have choices to make and forcing a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want is not a good decision in my opinion.
Of course, I wish I had taken preventive measures by using contraceptives, but I’m not going to beat myself up or allow anyone to look down on me because of my choice.
My message to society is, ‘Yes, it would be best for us not to reach the point where a woman is faced with the choice of abortion, but we have no right to judge her if that is what she wants.’