When I was in the Senior Cycle of Secondary School ‘What would you do if you got pregnant?’ Was as common a conversation as ‘Why do you reckon Mr. Doyle smells so bad?’
At the time we all had very definite ideas about what we would do. Yes or no, black or white. There was more diverse debate regarding Mr Doyle’s odour.
At the time I thought for me that I would never have an abortion but if my friend needed one I would crack open my post office account and help her however I could. And somewhere in my brain I knew I would never have to think about abortion because I was ‘clever’.
The next break time the conversation veered to abortion it was different. I was pregnancy and it was a secret. And it wasn’t like any of the circumstances we had played out at break before. It was me, it was real, and it was shitter then I ever could have imagined. I was completely muted by loneliness and despair. Turned out I wasn’t so clever after all. The issue of abortion for teenage me all got a little greyer.
Early on in my pregnancy I went to the organisation Cura with my Mam to discuss my opinions. We met with a very nice elderly woman who was one of the counsellors. We started by having a cup of tea. She asked me how I felt about having a baby and then about my feelings on adoption. That was the end of the discussion and I went home a little more upset then when I went in but now with a handful of dated leaflets.
I think there was more options discussed when it came to the tea to be honest. On the way home though I thought of all the women that must have been and gone before me without the positives I had in story. Even though I didn’t feel it I knew I was lucky. I had made my decision prior to Cura I just didn’t want to admit it to anyone yet.
I didn’t have an abortion. Because it wasn’t the right decision for me at that time in my life. But I knew after experiencing a crisis pregnancy I now had no way of predicting whether or not I would ever have to make a different decision if faced with it again.
I also knew my plan for cracking open my post office account for my imaginary friend in an imaginary scenario wasn’t really good enough either. Even on a personal level If I’d felt I had a real choice without leaving my country, I think I would have felt more confident and empowered as a woman and in control of my future. Like I was trusted to make that decision.
Just because abortion is available doesn’t mean everyone makes that choice. It means people can make real choices about real life situations affecting them.
Crisis pregnancy is a complex issue and it should be treated with compassion whatever the outcome. No one likes abortion. Myself and my classmates figured that out. We just never got around to figuring out accessibility in Ireland. It was only a 15-minute break after all and sure we never even got to the bottom Mr Doyle and his odour.
6th year was a long time ago though and we’ve all grown up a lot since then. Hopefully we are growing up as a country too.