Tanya

Share your story

I was not in a stable relationship and was already raising a daughter on my own.

2011 Canada

What were your feelings about doing the abortion/s?

This may seem like a silly story, because it turned out that I was not pregnant afterall. I want to share it though because of what happened for me when I faced the potential of needing an abortion even in a country where it is legal. Even though I didn't end up having an abortion the whole experience was traumatizing for me and impacted me greatly. I had been split up from a 7 year relationship with my 7 year old daughter's father for only about 6 months or so at the time. I had recently taken on a very demanding work promotion in order to support my daughter as a single parent with no financial support whatsoever from her dad. She is nearly 13 and I have still never had any help at all from him financially. I was also just beginning to date again for the first time in nearly a decade, at the age of 30/31. I ended up seeing someone much younger than I was, who was emotionally immature, who was not a suitable serious partner for me and was definitely not ready to become a parent at that point in his life. But we did end up having a sexual relationship with eachother for about 6-8 months or so, and are still friends to this day even though he has no idea that I was convinced at one point I was pregnant with his child and there was 100% no way I would have gone through with carrying that pregnancy- for numerous reasons. But the reasons I was pretty convinced I would likely need an abortion were: condoms had kept breaking for us and my period was extremely late (over 6 weeks since my last period), I'd only had a very light period of half a day which had never happened to me before and could easily have just been pregnancy "spotting" in the meantime, and I was experiencing many early pregnancy symptoms simillar to when I had been pregnant with my daughter. I later realized the symptoms were due to physical exhaustion from the 60+ hour work weeks I was putting in to cope with the demands of my new, what was supposed to be only 40 hours a week job. Due to my newly increased work schedule and my parenting schedule, even being able to see a doctor for an accurate pregnancy test without having to bring along my daughter so I could maintain any level of privacy from her was going to be very difficult for me to sort out, nevermind dealing with scheduling for an abortion or anything that might be related to that. I have no family in the city I live, and contact with my daughter's family here at that time was minimal due to my split from her dad so any type of childcare I might need in relation was going to be extremely challening at best. So with all that in mind, I went about determining what I was going to need to do to access an abortion should I need one, since I was convinced it was highly likely I would. I certainly was not prepared to put myself or my daughter at a disadvantage in so many ways due to an unwanted pregnancy which I had taken steps to prevent in the first place. And even if I had ended up in that situation without using birth control, I still believe that my sexual, physical, and emotional health and well being are my right and should therefore be considered the utmost priority in relation to a pregnancy. My first logical step was to call my obstetrician's office, afterall this doctor had cared for me and made sure I stayed healthy during my pregnancy and for the delivery of my daughter- surely this would be the exact type of healthcare professional who would be performing or at could at very least assist with any termination services I might require, right? Apparently not the case. When I called his office to enquire about termination the receptionist on the other end of the phone clearly didn't even have a clue as to what I needed. She had to put me on hold for a moment to even figure out my question. When she came back on the line she told me that my Doctor "Doesn't. Do. THAT." She was not able to assist me any further. I can't even recall at this point if she actually told me she couldn't help me any further, or if the tone of disgust in her voice when she came back on the line to answer my question was just enough for me to know that the conversation was over and there was not going to be any help for me coming from my own obstetrician. Normally I would consult friends or family for any type of important professional recommendation, but in this case I knew every single person in my life that I could confide in would in one way or another have a negative reaction and judge me for it, even when trying to offer me their support, except for one. So that simply wasn't an option for me to try to get reliable information. My next step was internet research. I managed to find out that there was literally only one clinic in my entire city where abortion procedures were performed. Worse yet, with pregnancy confirmed I would still be required to have a referal, I would need to have counselling (prior to and after) and this would all likely require time away from work which was already difficult enough for me to keep up with. Worst of all I would not be able to attend the appointment by myself. The policy was that I was going to have to tell someone in my life, possibly more than one person just to find one, who would be able to make the time to come with me for the actual appointment. Even though this is supposed to be a confidential medical procedure, something that I felt was absolutely nobody's business but my own. The worst part of that prospect was the only person I knew I could confide in and ask for that kind of help without judgment lives 2 hours away, so I would be putting a big strain on her time and resources, but even worse is the fact that more than anything in the world she is someone who wants to be a mother - despite suffering incest all throughout her childhood and multiple rapes as young woman in college. It broke my heart tremendously thinking that the one person I would be able (=forced) to go to for help just to be able to access a legal abortion procedure I feel I am entitled to and was certain I wanted, was also someone who would give anything (she still would) to be able to carry a pregnancy of her own. Because I also feel I am entitled to select my own care provider for any medical procedure, especially a legal one, and there was zero information online as to who the doctors at this one and only clinic were, I then phoned the local health authority to try to get more information, especially to even be able to find out where in the city the clinic was located as this information was (unfortunately with good reason in both instances) not advertised online but I would require it in order to know what further steps I would need to take to access abortion services. I also wanted to make sure there were literally no other options for me to access a safe legal abortion in the city I live in, particularly to make sure there was no feasible way I could have the procedure done on my own. The nurse I spoke to at that time was at least informative, professional and non-judgmental with me in answering all my questions on the phone. She also let me know that any pregnancy test I bought over the counter at a pharmacy were just as accurate as those being used in doctors' offices at the time and that over the counter pharmacy pregnancy tests were actually used by doctors all the time when clinics happened to run low on their own supplies. I went and picked up multiple pregnancy tests from the store, all of which confirmed I was in fact not pregnant. To my supreme relief my period arrived within a few days of taking the tests. But my experience of how abortions are (or at least were) provided to women in our healthcare system in Canada in 2011 was eye-opening for me in a most shocking and disappointing way. The absolute worst part was the prospect of subjecting someone I love dearly to a situation that would be the exact opposite of what she would wish for herself, just so I could get the help I needed to keep myself and my daughter safe and healthy, was humiliating and heartbreaking for me. In a way I am glad I went through the experience, just because if I ever DO need an abortion at least I will already have an idea of what I might be up against, even now. And in case anyone in my life (especially my daughter) ever needs to come to me for help with something like "THAT" I will have actually have some advice to offer, which will include not being afraid to demand healthcare options that meet your needs whatever they may be including insisting on access to this type of health information from anywhere or anyone you should reasonably expect to find it, and on your own terms- especially in regards to your own rights to privacy and confidentiality for your health care. To anyone who actually read through this whole thing, please know that even though my experience is different from yours I care for you and will continue to advocate for and support your human rights, whatever you might be going through or not, which includes the right access to abortion.

How did you do the abortion?

Traumatizing. I actually did not end up needing to go through with an abortion, but I wanted to share my story because even in a country where abortion is legal I could not believe the circumstances and reactions I would be subjected to trying to figure out what would be my course of action if I needed to have an abortion.

What was your situation at this time?

Personal reasons included that fact that I had used contraception but the condoms I had kept breaking, even though I had bought them myself, they were brand name (DUREX SENSITHIN Lubricated in purple box), they were recently purchased/not even close to expiry, and I had stored them properly.

Did the illegality of your abortion affect your feelings?

While abortion is not illegal in Canada, the taboo surrounding the entire process where I am from (Edmonton, Alberta) definitely made the prospect of an abortion even more difficult to handle than I had mistakenly believed it would be.

How did other people react to your abortion?

I felt I wasn't able to tell anyone in my life about it without negative judgment.

legal/illegal

What is your religion?