“9 years ago, I was at a doctor’s clinic in Delhi discussing my options to terminate an unintended pregnancy. The next day I had my bloodwork done. And the day after that my partner and I checked into a private hospital. It was an outpatient procedure, but I was put under general anaesthesia. Afterwards I went to his house, ate some tamatar soup and went to sleep. And that was that.
I was volunteering as a peer educator at the time, and when I suspected that I may be pregnant my extremely supportive boss lady sent me to her friendly neighbourhood gynae. The doctor was thorough, and prompt, and calmly walked us through the options. I vividly remember my pelvic exam. I was 20. And anxious. I had never had a speculum inside my vagina before. I remember feeling very self-conscious. And constricted. And I remember the doctor saying, pretty matter of fact, “relations banate hue to khol lete ho, abhi kya hua”. I remember thinking how unnecessary that was, in the moment, but then it passed and we had to check my weight and temperature.
Everything else went rather smoothly. The lab technicians and the nurses at the facility were very sweet. Delhi University had some strike related chutti followed by a long weekend, and I didn’t even have to miss a lot of college. I went back to my life feeling onehundredpercent that everything was as it should be. It was only a week before I resumed the normal pace of my eat-sleep-repeat life. I cried a little, laughed a little, and talked a whole lot – with friends, colleagues, and eventually my mother and sister. Everyone rallied around me like protective elephant mamas, I was well fed and watered and very well taken care of. An immediate aftermath of my abortion was that friends, and their friends, and their friends reached out when they needed advice or were going through something similar. In engaging and empathizing with these familiar strangers, I was able to repeatedly reaffirm my choice.
It was a very rational decision, but perhaps I didn’t allow myself a lot of room to reflect on the emotional process of it. Oddly enough, this year has found me talking about my abortion with a different set of people. A photographer, a researcher, an audience of development/healthcare practitioners. Funnily, these conversations have made me look back and reflect on my experience in a very emotional manner. I think it would be safe to say that I am only now in the process of working through the emotional implications of the procedure.
The doctor’s words, and the way she said them, rile me up now. The tone. The underlying insinuation of it all. In the years that have passed, I’ve had infections and routine checks and scares and then some. I have since consulted with other gynaecologists, who have provided judgement-free reproductive healthcare to me as an unmarried, sexually active woman. But each time I lie on an examination bed with my clothes bunched up by my waist, her words come back to me. Unapologetic, unwelcome, unbidden.”
MyAbortionStory is a crowdsourced project in partnership with
Mybodymychoiceindia campaign. It hopes to provide a platform for people to share their experiences with abortion in their own words. There is so much discourse around right and wrong but little about people’s experiences. Through My Abortion Story, we are hoping we can address this gap by bringing all kinds of personal narratives to life.