We often talk about the issues facing our country in abstract terms without ever addressing the human stories actually affected by our debate, whether that’s the environment, migration or poverty.
Abortion is no different, with people readily available to call pro-choice activists amoral murderers and the other side quick to dismiss concerns as simplistic views on the issue.
As the debate surrounding abortion reaches the forefront of the national discussion, Lovin Malta took a look at some of the very personal stories published by Break The Taboo.
“I grew up in a very religious family, attended a church school and had very strong Catholic beliefs. It was either black or white, no grey. Either right or wrong.
When I was 16, I was raped by someone who knew I was a virgin. It was like a challenge for him to do it. I was not on any kind of contraceptive protection, being 16 and a virgin meant there was no need. He followed me home to make sure I didn’t go to hospital or police. The next day I tried to go to the police station, but as I was crossing the road towards it, he was there.
He threatened me that if iIdidn’t leave with him there and then, he would do worse (which to my naive and shocked mind meant he would kill me). That day he proceeded to put a knife to my throat and raped me again.
This was during my O levels. I ended up leaving the house just to go to exams, with my mum driving and picking me up. No one knew what was going on.
Shortly after I finished my exams, I realised I was pregnant. The shock is something i can still remember. The world felt like it had ended. I was pregnant with a rape baby that would force me to stop all my education plans. Still, no one knew. And I kept it that way.
I tried every myth in the book to miscarry, and nothing worked. I started walking to a suicide hotspot every single day, and I set a deadline: if I don’t miscarry within four months I’d jump and kill myself.
Still, no one knew.”
“One morning I started getting awful stomach aches. I didn’t know what they were until I went to the bathroom and miscarried right there in the toilet. It was nothing more than a clump…..I flushed the toilet and walked out. The relief that came with that was overwhelming. I realised I had my life back.
I didn’t go for postnatal checks, I still didn’t confide in anyone, but I was happy again. Suicide was no longer an option I contemplated.
The MAP was not available so I couldn’t revert to that, and still a student I didn’t have money to go abroad. If I had, believe me, I would have.
The trauma of rape is already a massive trauma to go through… having to bear a child through that was too much to handle. I risked my life by not going for check-ups… but back then my mind wasn’t reasoning things out.
It took me two years of therapy to get over the rape trauma…..but through it all, losing the baby was the relief… I never had regrets or guilt feelings about it.
Abortion needs to be legalised. Yes, it has to be heavily regulated, but it needs to be an option for who so wishes.
If you don’t agree with it, it’s simple, don’t get one. But do not impose your opinions on others who you have no idea what they’re going through.”
“After many years of fertility problems, we were finally pregnant. This time around, everything was under control. I was taking all the ‘necessary’ medicines, and so we were happy that finally, we were going to have the family that we always wanted.
We went for the nuchal scan and we were told that the baby had several abnormalities. We were shocked. We had no reaction. We were told that the baby would have to undergo several operations abroad. Moreover, he will be bedridden and most probably feeding from a tube. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing, so we decided to have a second opinion.
We consulted seven specialists both locally and abroad, who said that termination would be the best option. We had support from our families, especially from our retired 60+ years old parents. We never imagined that all the money we saved through our hard work, which should have been used to buy our baby clothes, food, toys and education, had to be spent on a termination.
Medical termination is non-surgical, and the woman is induced by medicines, and the baby is delivered naturally. I am emphasising this because, in terminations, the baby is often portrayed as slashed into pieces.
I still remember the doctor filling out the forms and explaining everything. We were even asked how we were going to proceed with burying our child. We had no other option than to choose the conventional burial held by the hospital.
Signing the last forms while crying, the doctor hugged me and whispered, “You are brave”, and at that point, I confirmed that I was saving my child from all the pain and suffering.
On the first day, I was given a pill and went back to our hotel room. We locked ourselves in the hotel room for two days because we were afraid that we would meet someone we know. After two days, we returned to the ward to get induced.”
“After several hours, I delivered my baby. Despite the apparent anomalies, he was lovely in our eyes. We hugged him, we named him, we spent time with him, we took photos, and we loved him. The staff were super supportive, all acknowledging that we proceeded with the termination because we really loved our child so much that we did not want to see him suffering.
Our dream of starting up our family faded away so quickly. I must admit that this was a rough time for both of us. We were afraid of seeking support as we could not divulge any information. We feel that we are outsiders to our society. We feel betrayed by our government for not taking a stand in such circumstances.
This was not our dream. This was not something that we wished for. We are married, both paying taxes, and we were only trying to build up our own family. We needed support.
Finally, I do thank my gynaecologist, who understood our reasoning and supported us irrespective of the decision.”