I sat waiting on the bathroom floor for three hours for that second pregnancy test line, confirming my pregnancy, to disappear. I re-read the pregnancy test instructions over and over again as I was convinced there was some mistake. I couldn’t possibly get pregnant whilst on the contraceptive pill, right? Wrong!
It’s been just over 16 years since and today, I’m the very proud mother of a strapping young man and an equally wonderful 12-year-old little young lady. Over the years, I’ve spoken to my children at length about just how they came to be, so what’s to follow is no surprise to my liberal thinking two-some, who have both been wonderful surprises and yet they are truly my life’s blessings!
I was living in the UK with my boyfriend at the time, completing my studies and working full time in Central London. I had just turned 19, yet I was financially independent, having worked and studied since I was 15-years-old, in fact, I had just purchased my first property back home in Malta. My future couldn’t have shone brighter, the world was my oyster. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.
That fateful day that I found out I was pregnant, I prepared for my afternoon shift at my client-facing role in guest relations in one of the trendiest five-star hotels in Trafalgar Square and walked myself through just how I was to break the news to the father of our unborn child, with whom I had been in a relationship with for 3 years. He was immediately immensely supportive and we agreed that I would find out what was to follow the next day. I purchased a ‘Mother and Baby’ book and made an appointment with the local medical practice two weeks later.
As we sat in the practice, the Gynaecologist greeted us both, yet looked directly at me and asked me three questions: ‘how old are you?’, ‘are you married?’, and ‘would you like an abortion?’. Age. Status. Decision. The promptness made me feel extremely uneasy. This was in no way what I was expecting and is not to be seen as normal practice.
At first glance, the Gynae had come to understand that I was potentially vulnerable and wanted to understand whether I was able to make my own decision for my own body and unborn child.
Though I quickly declined, it was quite reassuring to know that I did have a choice, and it was to be offered without shame or stigma and I felt most liberated to have the ability to make a choice without any condemnation.
I declined as I personally felt a maternal responsibility, was in a stable relationship and had both a supportive partner and parents, whilst living most independently. It must, however, be recognised that hypothetically, had I had a weaker familial, financial and support structure, deemed crucial pillars in starting a family, especially as a teenage-unmarried-parent, I may have required more support and guidance in order to reach my final decision.
I have never for an iota regretted my personal decision.
It really does take a village to raise a child, and with my two, I took on board the whole village. Meanwhile, I was also needlessly judged and shunned by society for being an unmarried teenage parent and equally have been discriminated against in the workforce for being a mother too. It is because of this same support structure and sheer determination borne out of the refusal for myself and for my young family to be deemed a statistic that I maintained my motivation to continually strive for more.
Needless to say, having had my children in my life has propelled me to vow to provide a better world for their future generation, a world in which they can enjoy more civil liberties and fewer injustices, for the world is now their oyster to discover and to make a difference in, in just a few short years to come.
Pregnancy and the expectation of a child is deemed by society to be a joyous and beautiful journey embarked upon in wholesome circumstances. It must be said that most women don’t simply choose to terminate a pregnancy as if it were a get out of jail card; the reasons are at times far more complex and include health as well as life-threatening matters that are deeply traumatic, most often to both future parents.
I therefore wholly struggle with our parliamentary political class treating society as if it were made up of underage children yet ironically, they deem the same society aged 16+ mature enough to make a choice on their political career. We are therefore forced to challenge what our future holds. The decriminalisation of abortion must be seen to go hand-in-hand with an accessible support network that includes assessments, counselling, provisions, accommodation, parenting classes, access to free contraception and the like.
We are but one people in this community and who are we to judge another who chooses to make a decision different to our own? Others may have different views yet I encourage those who have chosen a battle between being ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ to look beyond what’s good and bad and rather choose to lead compassionate lives, empowering women without judgement, offering abundant and bounteous understanding, love, support and acceptance.
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Should Malta decriminalise abortion?