I’ve had two abortions all below the age of 18, why you ask? I lacked basic sex education because it’s quite the taboo to educate young people about sex in Malawi.
The first time I got pregnant it took me about five weeks to realize I am pregnant, I and my then-boyfriend didn’t use protection or any form of contraceptives because then I had no knowledge of morning-after pills or birth control. I was lucky to have been working then and I could afford to pay for my own abortion. My then partner wanted me to have a baby but I knew it wasn’t the right choice for me, I was young and had just finished high school there was no way I was going to able to afford a child financially and mentally. The first abortion I had, I took pills from a well reputable hospital in Malawi. It was illegal to abort, but the law wasn’t very strict. I had no advice on aftercare or how it was going to be painful because I live in a society where it’s still very taboo to go and have an abortion so people won’t speak about it, I wasn’t able to speak about it as well which meant I dealt with the cramps and the slight illness I felt on my own.
The second time was about a year later at this point I should have learned my lesson the first time but again I didn’t have the necessary knowledge due to lack of sex education and we were both being careless. I had hesitated before making the decision because I thought I was being given a sign to have a child but in reality, I wasn’t using contraceptives at a time I was ovulating. This time around the law abortions had become sterner and I was turned back at the hospital that I went to the first time, they said they couldn’t help me unless I could prove it was life-threatening (in retrospect it was threatening to the life I had built this far so they should’ve helped me). Since the first hospital was a no I had to go to a dingy hospital with very questionable hygiene in Bangwe where I thought I was going to lose my life, just because they wouldn’t legalize abortions that I had to use a back-alley hospital. This time around I went for the surgical procedure, it till this day is my preferred procedure it’s short, hurt a bit but apart from slight cramps after, I was okay. I never regretted it not once after a month it barely crossed my mind.
Years later I would still make the same decision, it was the right one for me and I will never regret it. Society says I should be ashamed but I do not let society police the decisions I make for my body. Years later abortions are still illegal and apart from the internet, there’s lack of sex education in schools and homes. The people with the power to legalize abortions seem to not understand the effects of unsafe abortions, a lot of women have had to go to hospitals like the one in Bangwe and have lost their lives or have suffered severe health complications because of it but still, the people in power want to police our bodies. Surely this is a violation of our human rights?
A Brave Woman