Anna's story is collected especially for the SHHH project. All informants and stories in this project have been anonymised. All names are changed.
I had been engaged for five years when I became pregnant in 1967. I was 21 years old. I didn’t tell my parents because sex before marriage was forbidden. We were a well-known family, and I dared not say anything.
I had already told my boyfriend. He left the decision and how to deal with it, to me. My boyfriend was studying in another town during that time, and he told me that he had to take an exam. To this day, I do not know whether he really had this test, or if it was an excuse. I went to his mother’s house and told her about my pregnancy. She wanted me to have an abortion. She gave me the money and the address to a good doctor.
The doctor sent me to a midwife. In her bathroom she had a noodle board – you know these boards people used to cover the stove top – that she put across the bathtub, and I had to lie down on it. She inserted a knitting needle in me, inducing the abortion. I didn’t understand what was going on, because neither the doctor nor the midwife explained anything to me. I was surprised at first, angry afterwards, because she didn’t enlighten me at all. If I had known how she did it, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through with it. The truth is, I was scared when I saw that knitting needle, and too shocked to react.
The midwife reassured me that it wouldn’t hurt, and it would be over in a minute. She then sent me home and told me to lay down for a while. After that, I don’t have any memory, only that I sat on the toilet for three days with unbearable pain.
I felt so miserable after the abortion. I told my parents, who I still lived with at that time, that I had severe menstrual problems. Since I always had painful periods, they believed me; I always lay a day or two in pain. This time I was miserable for three days, but they didn’t notice. There were no other complications, and I was able to continue with my life.
The second time I had an abortion, I found an experienced doctor with a nurse as an assistant; they put me under anesthesia. This time, my husband was there, but it was like he wasn’t. Everything went well, but I didn’t have support from parents or others this time either.
Today I see this: with my strength today, I would not do such a thing, but at that time I saw no way out. I was very weak and alone. If I had received help, it would certainly have turned out differently.
It took me a long time to process these abortions. Years later, I began to live with my grief and honor these children that I could not bring to life, so that they have a place in my life. Since my children now are older, I have told them.