I got pregnant when I was just 18, had just finished school and had my whole life ahead of me. And getting pregnant was NOT part of the plan.
I was completely overwhelmed. I was not ready for the decision. However, my body was ready, and started to change, to flood me with hormones and grow the baby within me.
I decided abortion was my only option, and it was then that I needed a system to protect me from my lack of maturity, wisdom and misinformation.
I had to make decisions quickly. I felt so out of control and I made the only decision I thought I had. I booked an abortion.
No one around me suggested or supported any other options, because, as my counsellor wrote on my admission form, I believed it was "best for me, and my baby, to terminate". And it was my body, and my decision alone.
I was failed by the system that made it easier for me to get that pregnancy terminated and get the baby removed, than it was to have my wisdom teeth taken out.
But getting your wisdom teeth removed is not the same as abortion. Abortion ends one life and changes another forever.
My GP assumed I would get an abortion and so we just discussed how I would go about that. My boyfriend and my family didn't know what to say, so didn't say much at all.
And the clinic brushed aside my fears and uncertainties, and then proceeded to placate me with pleasant untruths about the development of the foetus inside me. They lied to my face. I didn't understand what was growing inside me.
And it was with horror that some years later I looked at the development of an unborn baby at 8 weeks. Only then did I understand that the "ball of cells no bigger than my little fingernail" - the description the so-called counsellor had used to reassure me – which I had got scraped out was indeed far more human than I had been led to believe.
Not one of them encouraged me to stop, take a breath and consider the risk that when I woke up with relief that this could be replaced with a gnawing hollow regret that would dog me for years.
The people around me in large part stayed silent, except to tell me that they would support me whatever I did. So I left alone to make this decision, just barely an adult legally but still so young, and I wish that instead of silence those around me had challenged and supported me to think through what pregnancy or termination would really look like.
This is an edited version of Madeleine Weidemann's speech to a Rally for Life in Toowoomba on 26 September 2018.
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