“Liza” first told her abortion story to Break the Taboo Malta, which is an initiative to end abortion stigma in Malta by sharing personal abortion stories and related experiences. The following story highlights the uncertain times and the disadvantage of women in Malta seeking to get an abortion in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I never thought it would happen to me. After all, I had thought things through and had an IUD inserted; a very reliable contraception method that was supposed to be more than 99% effective. However, in my case, something went wrong and the contraceptive failed. There were no signs that it failed and a previous visit to a gynae showed that the IUD was in position.
I knew I was pregnant, but because of stress, anxiety and denial, I put off having a test by a week. Upon insistence by my long term partner, I had a variety of tests done and found out that I was 6/7 weeks pregnant.
I was devastated because I thought that maybe, just maybe, it might have been just a pregnancy scare. I was in a panic because: 1. There was a risk of ectopic pregnancy, 2. This was definitely not a good time to have a baby, and 3. I was angry. The contraceptive should have worked! I was not sleeping around as some others might have put it since I was with my partner for more than 9 years, and the last check-up visit showed it was working and in place.
The next couple of days were intense. I went from moments of extreme anxiety attacks to moments of total denial. I never wanted children and always wanted a permanent form of contraception (female sterilization), which regrettably enough is not provided in Malta to women who have not had children and are in their 20s. I kept telling myself if this was available I would not have been in this situation at all.
In the days that followed, I thought about everything: the future baby’s life, my life, my relationship, making it work, how I would tell my employer, how it would affect my career, how I would cope financially, how my family would react, having no place of my own… I thought a lot, and the more I thought the more I knew this wasn’t what I wanted for this child and wasn’t what I wanted for myself.
I searched online but the decision was not made lightly. I was in a position that I was not supposed to be in. The safest option that might have been possible was going abroad and having a surgical abortion, but with the Covid-19 situation this was not going to be. I was truly panicking now. I knew about groups in Malta that offer advice on the situation such as Doctors for Choice Malta, who directed me to contact Abortion Support Network, who in turn let me know of sites where pills can be purchased for the abortion to take place at home. Pills would not have been my first choice should the situation have been different, but circumstances did not allow for other alternatives. I would have liked to have the procedure in a clinic where you would be supervised and still treated like a human all the way rather than at home, with no sympathetic doctor near me to help should the need arise.
I must say, the 2 weeks’ wait was very disheartening; filled with anxiety and suicidal thoughts should the pills not arrive in time. Yes, I was in such a state, I searched for herbs online and had a suicidal thought at least once or twice a day, thinking of ways it could be done. I was in panic mode all the way through. After two weeks the pills arrived. I was relieved. Aside from the physical pain in the initial hours of the procedure, it mostly felt like a very heavy period. I didn’t regret it and I didn’t feel evil. I bled heavily for four or so days and moderately for around two weeks, but was almost pain-free after the first week. I knew I had made the right decision.
I was fortunate that the pills managed to arrive on time. However, women who are unable to obtain an abortion will either remain pregnant and/or resort to more unsafe methods; something I was going to resort to. I cannot imagine the situation of those women or couples who do not want to carry on with the pregnancy but are now forced to keep going or give up to adoption because they could not get access to services or found out late so much so that the pills cannot work. Access to medication should be available and I still cannot understand why Malta has this view on abortion when so many resort to it. That said, I cannot thank those who supported me enough!
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