Ten years ago, I walked into an abortion clinic visibly bruised and distressed, with my ‘partner’ by my side, watching my every move. Just like the other times this had happened, none of the workers at the clinic seemed to notice any of the obvious red flags or ask me if this was what I really wanted.
It wasn’t. And although that abortion was the catalyst in my finally finding the courage to leave a domestically violent situation that also saw me become a victim of sex trafficking, it was also hands down the most traumatic experience I had ever been through. Considering the abuse I experienced, that is saying a lot.
I wanted that baby, so very badly. It wasn’t the first time I had been coerced and threatened into an abortion, and I had sworn that I wouldn’t let it happen to me again. Yet here I was, back again, too frightened to save my baby. I longed for one of the clinic staff to ask the right questions. To help me to get out and get away, with my child still in my womb.
But none of them ever did.
After that last time, I finally managed to escape in the middle of the night when he was passed out drunk and walk miles to the police station. I ended up being taken hundreds of miles across the country to a refuge, until he was eventually safely behind bars. I lost everything to get away, but having already lost my baby, I didn’t care. Perhaps that is why I was finally able to try and escape, because although I believed him when he said he would kill me, it no longer mattered. I felt as though I had died along with my child. I had nothing left to lose.
I slowly put my life back together, and am now in a happy, loving relationship with a beautiful child. I had a lot of therapy to get over the abuse and trafficking, but it was years before I could talk about the abortions, process the guilt and shame, and let myself grieve properly. There was never any doubt inside my mind that those were babies inside my body, not ‘products of conception.’
To this day I still have occasional flashbacks of my lying on the floor, my hands over my stomach in a desperate attempt to protect the life inside it, while he kicked and beat me. Telling me that if I didn’t get rid of the baby then he would do it for me.
It seems ludicrous to me now that the doctors and nurses who staffed the abortion clinic didn’t notice that something was going on. But if they did, nothing was said, or any safeguarding risk ever reported that I was aware of.
Yet for a long time after these experiences, I didn’t think of myself as pro-life. I certainly wasn’t pro-abortion either, but I absorbed the message pushed by society that abortion was no big deal, and it was a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, even though that directly contradicted my own experiences. I assumed what happened to me was uncommon, rare even.
Then I found out it wasn’t. That studies found as many as 74% of women who had abortions were pressured into it[i] and in the UK as many as 14% of all women had experienced reproductive coercion[ii] including forced abortion.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for pregnant women, and yet pro-abortion supporters use this as a reason to lobby for abortion on demand, stating that the best way to help these women is to make it easier for them to abort their babies[iii], rather than to help them escape the abuse with their children.
This viewpoint baffles me. As my experience shows, this will lead to the woman in question suffering more abuse and more coerced abortions, especially if abortion providers view their role as carrying out terminations no questions asked, rather than seeking to safeguard the women who are in their care. When I discovered this rhetoric, I began to seriously examine my own wider views around abortion in general. For if abortion access is about equality and freedom for women, why is it so often playing right into the hands of domestic abusers?
And not just domestic abusers, but sex traffickers too. Further studies show that coerced abortion and sex trafficking are indelibly linked, with many sex trafficking victims being subjected to more than one coerced or forced abortion[iv]. How can supporting abortion on demand, no questions asked, be considered ’feminist’ given these figures? This doesn’t support women. This supports pimps and abusers.
That’s when I knew that I had to take a stand.
I already speak out against the abuses of the sex industry, but I have never publicly revealed my abortion experiences before. Yet knowing how the two abuses are entwined, it is simply incoherent to be against one and for the other.
I am pro-life, and proud of it.