Thirteen weeks

Poppy shares her story of abortion, arguing that the legal time limit should not be reduced.

thank you choice heart.jpgIn October four years ago, when I was 21, I walked out of my bathroom in shock after seeing that the pregnancy test I’d just used had two blue lines on it. I checked the instructions again and again, but my body had already told me: the day before I had been so nauseous I was actually sick in the street. I couldn’t remember having my last period. I was so exhaustingly tired.

At 21 I was living with my (now ex) boyfriend and had just started as a temporary assistant at a publishing house. I’d graduated in the summer and felt like my life had just got started. So when I found out I was pregnant it turned my world upside-down. Before I held that test in my hands, I had always said that I’d be straight down to Marie Stopes, no questions asked. But the reality was that I had a very real decision to make and I very much struggled with it.

As a result I became very depressed – to the point where I was signed off work. My boyfriend went from loving and supportive, to distant and angry. He wouldn’t talk to me about it but he’d shout at me to get out of bed, to make a decision. He even went so far as to ban “the P word” around him. All I wanted was for him to say “I’ll support you whatever”, but unfortunately it never came.

During the difficult days that followed, it dawned on me that I didn’t want to bring up a child just yet. I wanted to have a secure job, and a loving partner, and to feel like I was giving them the best start in life. But not just that – I wanted to live my life first. Unbeknownst to me, by the time I finally picked up the phone and rang the clinic I was nearly 13 weeks pregnant.

In the past few weeks I have watched US and UK right-wing politicians (Mitt Romney, Jeremy Hunt, Nadine Dorries, Maria Miller – to name a few) toy with the idea of reducing the legal limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 12 weeks. It angers and saddens me that these politicians, who are mostly led by their religious views, want to take this right away from women. The 24-week upper limit on abortion has considerable backing by the scientific and medical communities and so it is disturbing to me that these politicians, who hold a substantial amount of power in Parliament, could bring forward a bill to challenge this.

Jeremy Hunt has been made the new Health Secretary for this country – yet he believes there should be a 12-week limit on abortion. How can a man with such stunted ideological ideas lead the way on health matters? Especially health matters concerning women.

I very strongly believe that if you take this choice away from women, then you are putting feminism back by 50 years. Without control over our own reproductive rights, we are left with very little. Take that away and we would be in a very bleak predicament.

I imagine a very different life for me today if I had walked into a clinic four years ago and been told I was one week too late to have an abortion. Today I have a really great job and a partner who I know would support me and love me if we ever had to face that predicament together. And though the decision was hard, I don’t regret it for a second. It gave me the choice to live my life, just me, for a while longer. One day I will choose to have a baby, and it will be the right time.

We need to do all we can to support a women’s right to abortion, and a 24-week limit. It’s so important to feminism, and to you, in case one day you see the two blue lines you weren’t ready for.

Photo of a red, heart-shaped placard bearing the words “Thank you for giving me a choice” by SMN, shared under a Creative COmmons licence.