"Rita" 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.
I was 28 years old, living in a foreign city and working the job of my dreams. I had been with my boyfriend for just over a year, when I found out that I was pregnant. When I told him, he told me that he wasn't ready to have a baby and that if I kept it, he would disappear entirely from my life. This broke my heart, but the thought of having to leave my new home, my job, my friends and the life I had created in the city to go back to Malta to raise a child on my own broke my heart ten times more.
After my boyfriend's confession, I felt really alone, and I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant. I went to the clinic alone.
I wanted to do it alone, firstly because I was petrified that I would be disclosed and secondly because I felt like if I could do this alone, I could do anything.
I thought about telling my parents, but I was scared. I really wanted to, but I was so scared of what they would say. I kept thinking they would think I'm a slut for getting pregnant and that it would be unbearable for them to hear. They had always been pro-choice, but "what to do if you plan to get an abortion" simply isn't a topic you talk about at the dinner table, is it? So, while I desperately wanted my mom and dad by my side, I chose to believe they would never understand, and I chose to have my abortion on my own.
The people at the clinic were very friendly. When I arrived, I asked to be taken to a secluded area to explain my situation to the medical staff. The second I explained I was from Malta, they planned out the process of my abortion in a way which protected my privacy even further than regular patients.
First, they told me about a specific fund they had for women coming from San Paolo. They offered to have my abortion paid from this fund. I refused as I could afford it, however they accepted that I pay cash so that no monetary transfer to them would be registered on my bank account. They also allowed me to use the back entrance the next time I visited so no one would see me going in from the front entrance.
What I found heartwarming was that because I chose to do the procedure alone, the doctor who saw me on my first visit changed her shifts around that week to be there during my second and third visits. There were seldom times I cried during the procedure, but I couldn't stop my tears when I received that doctor's kindness. It was the first and only time during the procedure where I did not feel alone.
The procedure was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I remember during the initial consultation my gynae recommended that I wait a week or two more and go for a surgical abortion. Having watched ‘The Silent Scream’ at school, I outright refused. No way was someone putting a coat hanger inside me and ripping my uterus into shreds, I remember thinking. I know now how wrong my perception was.
I had the medical abortion instead and spent over 7 hours on my bathroom floor in agony, on my own, begging God to take me now. There was nothing more I wanted throughout, then a hug from my mom and some words of encouragement. But they never came.
Around 4 weeks after the abortion, I chose to tell my parents. A week later my father came to see me. When he arrived, he put his luggage down, gave me the strongest hug he's ever given me, looked me in the eyes and told me their biggest secret.
12 years before I was born, my mother got pregnant. Hardly older than a teenage herself, she and my father rushed off to England for the procedure. She had a surgical abortion. It was done under anaesthetic. It didn't hurt. She was fine. And in that moment, I realised she did understand. I realised that the one I wanted the most to be there for me, was the person I needed the most to be there for me. But my fear of the taboo paralysed me from asking her.
I believed my parents would never understand my choice, because for all of my life I have been surrounded by a society which refuses to understand any choice. Little did I know, that my parents understood it too well.
I love the beautiful island that I call home. But I will never forgive it for creating a society which conditioned me into fearing my own parents during my darkest moment. I will never forgive it for instilling a fear within me so bold, that it stole the opportunity to let my parents be there for me.
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